when the switch flicks

With age comes wisdom, for most people anyway. Some people are stupid and will forever remain that way. Like my ex, for example.

Imagine this: you wake up in the middle of the night usually to go for a wee because you've been doing so well at your drink-8-glasses-a-day New Year resolution but right now it seems like a curse. You reluctantly stumble out of bed and head towards the door and fumble to turn the hallway light on so you don't accidentally stub your toe on the ugly oversized bureau which your Mum insists is practical. You finally locate it and clumsily flick the switch and the lightbulb instantly illuminates. At first you're blinded but once your eyes adjust, the stairs to the bathroom appear perfectly lit up as if a pathway to heaven.

The process of self-actualisation is much like that lightbulb moment when the switch flicks except all of that is happening inside of your head. Well, sort of. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that it takes you a little while to navigate through life's ups and downs and all the other crap it throws in your face. It feels like you're never going to get anywhere. Ever. But then, one day you'll just wake up and unexpectedly feel a life-affirming shift in perspective.

I had one of these epiphanies during one of the many overly tipsy (AKA drunk) conversations with new gal pals in a nightclub bathroom. Those girls who tell you how gorgeous you look are, and will always be, national treasures. Of course you shouldn't feel the need to be validated by some randomers on a night out but, strange as it may seem, these encounters have often led me to give myself a motivational talking to.

You see, getting ready for any outing, even just a corner shop emergency chocolate run, was once a chore for me. I hated how any single piece of clothing looked on my fat body. My hair was unbelievably frizzy. And all that was way before I even attempted to put any make up on. My eyeshadow was always simply shit. My teeth always appear yellowish upon application of any shade of lipstick. And, despite what all the YouTube gurus tell you, all the baking and setting spray in the world could never eliminate the oil from my T-zone. If I was lucky, I only ended up in tears but too many times it manifested into an ugly panic attack which usually sent me back into bed where I would stay not to be seen by the world for a few days because of how ugly and disgusting I thought I was.

One day, as if by magic, everything changed. I decided that I didn't want, but more importantly, didn't need to care anymore. Or maybe in reality I was just exhausted. Either way, my mindset had completely changed. I was going to be confident. I was faking it at first but eventually I did made it. Just like they say you do. Don't get me wrong, the voices in my head were still there but I realised I had the ability not to listen and put them on mute, so to speak. Ultimately, I think the thought of living a life where I obsess daily over my appearance was truly terrifying. Now when I look in the mirror, even if my eyebrows look at best like 1st cousins, I can still appreciate that I am beautiful. The same goes for when I catch a glimpse of my reflection in a bus window driving past and I see my VBL (Visible Belly Line) on full display,  I can't help but think my (not so) little pouch is actually quite cute.

Another example dates back to about a year ago, when I met a counsellor who I feel like I owe my life to. I hope she gets all the karma she deserves. I went to see her because I desperately sought answers. I couldn't make sense of my thoughts anymore and some help was well overdue. I needed to escape from my own mind and I eventually did. We worked through my issues session by session and I eventually had a major breakthrough. On what turned out to be my very last appointment, as usual, I filled out a mood self-assessment questionnaire and the results were interesting. I'd scored extremely high for low moods and feeling panicky despite the fact that I felt better than ever.

My counsellor asked me to explain. I tried and I failed. I can never pin point the exact point in my life when my depression hit but it came hard and fast and it was seemingly existential. Depression consumed me entirely and controlled ever single aspect of my life. It had become part of my identity. At this point during the session, I realised that for the longest time I just thought that being a moody cow was part of who I was. I opened up about how I genuinely believed I had an innate incapacity to be happy or even content. Depression isn't a personality trait though, which seems obvious now however at the time it hadn't been. I also had the same issue with anxiety. I'm still currently working on separating my mental health from my personality and identity in general by trying to differentiate the characteristics of depression and anxiety from my character as a person.  Nonetheless, now that I am aware, I know to ask myself whether its me or my mental illness that's come out to play.

It would appear that I'm finally having my 2k16 Kylie moment of realising things. I think it's also just called growing up or, to put it more eloquently, having your very own personal enlightenment.

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