[TRIGGER WARNING: MENTION OF CONCENTRATION CAMPS, SLAVERY, & CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE]
As I continue to get better, emotional health-wise, I'm starting to get a clearer picture of what happened to me leading up to my full-on existential crisis last year. I think that the ongoing horrors of the Trump administration and my inability/unwillingness to avoid looking at them combined with some other events, particularly finding out that the guy who writes the music that was previously leading me down a path toward something like spiritual health is a rapist, led directly to a crisis point.
I was faced with the human rights horrors created and perpetuated by the country I live in, up to and including concentration camps and likely child trafficking, and I felt absolutely unable to do anything concrete about them. Any action that felt like an appropriate response would lead to the end of my life, either through imprisonment or actual death, and anything less than that felt like it would be little more than something that would make me feel better without doing anything to confront the roots of the problem. Meanwhile, kids were disappearing and dying.
I'm pretty sure I accidentally came to the conclusion that I wasn't allowed to be happy as long as that kind of suffering was taking place. I'm pretty sure I've touched on this before but it seems really clear to me now. At the very least, I wasn't allowed to be happy unless I was dedicating my life or all my free time to doing something to help people in a way that my brain felt was enough. That's why I couldn't enjoy any of my old recreational activities anymore. I shut down.
But I couldn't just go and join every charity organization around and spend all my time volunteering, either. In fact, I did none of that. Because I was already weighed down by anxiety, depression, and massive amounts of guilt that my brain, the same one yelling at me that I needed to DO SOMETHING, was also screaming that it needed rest and self-care. A lot of that was really it running to its old favorite defense mechanism -- avoidance.
Basically, I wanted to distract myself from all that shit with video games, but I couldn't enjoy them because of the nagging guilt that I wasn't DOING SOMETHING, until eventually video games themselves became an anxiety trigger. It was a vicious cycle spiraling down into absolute fuckery.
I'm not sure if cannabis helped me or hurt me during all of this, or somehow both?
What I realized recently was just how much guilt I was pouring onto myself and how this all culminates in one of my core issues, perhaps the root of all my issues -- that I'm not good enough. Fundamentally, as a person, I'm not good enough. This is a belief I've been trying to kick to the curb since my first therapist brought it to my attention at age 16. It reaches its insidious little tentacles into everything. I'm not a good enough writer. I'm not a good enough friend. I'm not a good enough student. I'm not a good enough gamer, for fuck's sake.
But the root of this belief is that I am not good enough as a person, somehow. And that really hits when it comes to the thing that has become the center of my life, my one real goal, the thing that guides my every action. I want to be a good person. I want to do good. I want to lessen suffering and bring people more happiness than they had before. I want to leave the world a better place than it would have been if I had never existed.
If I felt I could not be a good person as long as concentration camps existed in the U.S., it's no wonder I shut down and eventually had a crisis and a depressive episode. Some of it almost seems silly now. I'm not supposed to be patriotic, I'm not even a fan of borders or the very concept of nations. So why should I only freak out when human rights abuses happen in "my" country? I also had to contend with the idea that we've always had concentration camps in the form of our standard prisons. That slavery was never abolished because our prisons became work camps that we filled with people of color. Then I read that book about how we never desegregated our schools, holy fuck.
Not to mention how our demand for modern technology has fueled child slavery in the Democratic Republic of Congo, China has re-education camps for its Muslim population, also most chocolate is brought to you by slaves, and probably coffee, etc. Why did I only freak out when it came closer in physical proximity to where I live?
The answer is probably because that's how the human brain works. Things become more real the closer you can associate them to yourself. It sucks and it's absolutely still wrapped up in racism but the point is, it was arrogant of me to believe, on some level, that I was immune to that.
Human-made horrors have existed for every moment I've been alive. I know that. This doesn't mean I'm going to stop trying. I believe my goal to lessen those horrors and promote justice and well-being as much as I possibly can is sincere. I also believe, or am trying to believe, that the more psychologically healthy I am, the more able I will be to make that happen. This crisis of mine is good evidence of that. I wasn't able to much during that whole thing, which really lasted over a year if you count the year leading up to it in which I was using cannabis to further avoid dealing with my issues and feelings.
The good news is that I'm coming out of it. I had a moment a couple weeks ago where it felt like I settled back into the real world, if only for a few seconds, in a way I hadn't been for many months. It's possible I have been low-key dissociating for quite a long time. But I know I'm getting better because I'm starting to feel again, really feel, both good and bad emotions, and either way, it's just good to feel. And I'm starting to really feel like it does feel good to feel even when the feeling is bad. That might not make any sense but it's how I FEEL okay I'm done.
One more feeling. It feels like coming alive again. Like I'm in an early Spring period of my life.
I still have loads of guilt piled up. I'm getting back into video games again and I'm trying to allow myself to just enjoy them, but the guilt does keep coming. Guilt is such a sticky and nasty thing, it really doesn't do us any good when we let it pile up like I have. It might make us behave better as a society but if we don't let it go, it really becomes just a useless weight that's so difficult to get rid of.
I think I just need to let myself feel it all in order to do that. Not all at once, that would be overwhelming, but a little at a time.
Writing this out is also helpful, and I hope it can help other people who might be going through similar stuff. Let's all feel things and forgive ourselves be good people together, huh?
It's okay to feel good. It's okay to feel good.