In my life I have had a lot of medical issues. It started when I was around fourteen. When I dig in my mind I can’t figure out where the start of my miseries lies, (maybe writing this down will help me see it).What I can remember and go back to, is the feeling. Sadness, disbelieve, physical and mental pain. The first time in my life I got confronted with the reality of life, and I didn’t like what I saw. 

At that age I didn’t have the knowledge, the insight to see what was going on. The only way I knew how to deal with the world and what it did to my system, was to ignore it. If I pretend I’m not feeling what I’m feeling I will be fine. Little did I know.  

I kept ignoring it for a long time. The right and wrong people tried to help me. But I didn’t want to see. I found a comfortable spot in my misery and planted base there. For more than ten years the pain and misery grew. It manifests itself in epileptic seizures, Crohn’s disease and a long list of associated miseries. 

At some point in time my colleagues found me on the floor next to the coffee machine, shaking, my eyes turned to the back of my head. Even now, writing this down, I feel the pain that my colleagues felt seeing me suffer an epileptic seizure. And I can still see the expression on their faces when I walked back into work the next day; the bewilderment, the pity, the fear, the sadness. 

Though I now know that the way I feel and see other people’s emotions is not how everybody feels and sees them, at that point in my life I didn’t know different levels of feeling, seeing or hearing even existed. So the only way I knew how to deal, was to block it all. Block all the emotions, my own and those of everybody around me. As a result, this seizure was one of many, and just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to confronting emotions. 

To say I am stubborn is an understatement. The pain I have experienced because of my stubbornness is endless. I didn’t want to see and feel. I found people who express emotions weak, I felt sorry for them. I thought they were pathetic. And as tough as I was towards other people’s emotions, I was twice as tough towards my own. I was my own personal toxic friend saying; “don’t feel sorry for yourself, this is what you got, this is what you have to deal with, grab your shit together and move on”. 

I think it was inevitable that I had to go to the extreme before the penny dropped. I had a couple of shoulder and bowel surgeries, tubes and cameras in all the orifices of my body, many visits to the emergency room. Medical trauma was unavoidable.

Simultaneously I was being confronted with the pain that the people who love me felt by watching me go through it all. Seeing their pain was much more painful than all my physical pain. This made me choose to take my pain in solitude. Well that’s not true. I did talk about pain. At some point during those years I learned to talk about my shit from a psychologist. But I excel at speaking about my shit without showing emotion. So I ended up choosing to take my emotional pain in solitude, so I didn’t have to see my pain through the pain of others. 

But then, and inevitably so, after about ten or even more years later, the emotional pain, linked to physical pain became too big. There was literally no way I could keep it in anymore. 

I remember the day. I spoke to myself: stop crying, you have to go to work, pick up your shit and don’t feel sorry for yourself. This was the first time this technique didn’t work. What to do? How to handle this? This was the first time I wasn´t in control of my emotions. I went to a colleague’s house. Of course I chose a colleague I liked. But not one who really knew me or who was strong enough to confront me with what I was doing. I chose someone who avoided conflict. Now this choice tells me a lot. I needed help picking up my shit. But I still wouldn’t look it in the face. 

After the conversation with my colleague, I gathered my shit together and went to work. 

This was the week I went to my boss’s office and told her I was depressed. Even then, my stubbornness was still there. I remember that I said that I could keep on working, that I would figure it out. Luckily my boss thought otherwise. Saying out loud that I had a depression was powerful. As if a veil was lifted. Now it was there, out in the open, nowhere to hide. 

This was just the first layer of the onion. Many more layers came after that. But now I can say that this was my mental low point. My physical low came years after, want to read more about that?

Click here.

Coming out of the depression was tough. But admitting I had one was tougher. In the years that followed I learned to look at my pain, and even act on it, though that took me a bit longer still. And even more years passed me by before I was able to see that it’s not my strength, but my willingness to be vulnerable that makes me strong. 

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