I almost lost the battle with my demons.
With lips tight, heart guarded, and stoic face on, I almost lost the battle because I tried to fight it alone. I found myself lying hopelessly with wounds on my heart and deep slashes in my mind that hurt worse than anything I had ever experienced.
I almost lost the battle, but I didn’t.
I didn’t lose it because finally, with no more strength to hide the depression stealing Elizabeth and leaving me her body, the people who loved me refused to let me fight alone any longer and came to my side.
Unfortunately, the battle didn’t end that day, and a new feeling replaced the desperately lonely pain: terror.
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I didn’t fully realize or accept it at the time, but the horrors I had experienced when I tried to fight depression alone were still branded in my mind.
As I began to regain my strength, I became terrified my fellow soldiers would think I didn’t need their help anymore, and I would once again be left to fight my demons on my own.
I was afraid they would start giving me responsibilities outside of the battle I couldn’t handle, and I would end up disappointing them and losing their love and their aid. I was afraid they would start to treat me differently, wouldn’t be as loving or as gentle with me, and would start to pull away from their support and leave me stranded before I was ready.
Without even realizing it, I began to dread getting better because I was so afraid health would mean a return to fighting the pain of this life by myself.
Finally, in a conversation with my therapist one day, I began to see this fear was zapping my strength and taking away my desire to fight.
Unsurprised, my therapist asked me to think back to what caused me to fight and feel alone. Was it because nobody was willing to help me? Was it because people didn’t love me enough to be by my side? Was it because my friends and family didn’t think I deserved or needed someone to support me in this life?
For the first time, I started to think about the fact that it was me, not the people around me, who had isolated me.
It was the part of me feeling unworthy of love and of care, it was the part of me thinking self-sufficiency was my only attribute, it was the part of me unwilling to let anyone close enough to hurt me.
I began to think about the people who had rushed into my life and my heart as soon as I let them: my dad, my mom, and my best friends.
My therapist asked me a question that changed my perspective completely: “Elizabeth, you would do anything for them- you love being someone who loves them and someone they trust enough to share life within the good times and the really darn awful times – why do you think it’s any different for them? Why do you think that the only reason they would possibly be willing to sacrifice for you is that you are desperately in need and so they feel obligated?”
As I started to accept recovering from depression did not mean graduating from support, it became easier to fight.
It was a difficult process of continually adjusting my self-talk, but as I began to seek and find recovery, I started to find as I healed, I gained strength and no longer needed to be carried through my battles because I could walk on my own. But it didn’t mean my fellow warriors left my side. Instead, they kept on holding my hand, reminding me that I never had to be alone again. Our relationships slowly became more and more reciprocal.
And then something beautiful began to happen: I started to notice I could see things other people couldn’t see.
I could see people fighting on battlefields that others didn’t see or notice. I could see them even when they tried to hide. As I reached the end of my battle and emerged victorious, with my loved ones and me still supporting each other, I was able to walk onto the battlefield of many suffering people. I was able to pick them up and support them through a battle I knew how to win.
I thought when I recovered from depression, I would have to fight in a lonely battle again. And thankfully, I have.
In fact, I have had the chance to come alongside several lonely people and help them win their battles!
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