EDIT: My girlfriend came down with something and we have shifted our date to either this weekend or later next week. Nonetheless, we are both very enthusiastic!
Valentine’s Day holds special significance for me, even if the turn of events that brought my good fortune had not occurred. These are for reasons that I am not yet quite comfortable sharing, though perhaps that may change over time.
Nevertheless, I use Valentine’s Day as a sort of day of retrospect. It is a convenient day of recollection for me. I go back to the previous two years at this point. How far have I really come?
The Hard Fall
Two years ago, I was in a very dark place. I was floating aimlessly, out of school and adrift. My dreams of being an animator had been ripped to pieces. The writing was on the wall, with a poor fall semester and a withdrawal from spring of that year. I had no sense of purpose, of what I was going to do with my life. I spent much of that time idle with my parents, my friend group had largely dissipated. Everything slowed to a crawl, and I spent much of my time literally doing nothing as other people worked in the background to help me get back on my feet. The depression, the anxiety, everything seemed to be against me. I felt like this was how it would be for the rest of my life.
I did not think about friends, or relationships, or any of the other topics that have now become so important to me. It was like I was living in some sort of limbo, left exhausted and forgotten. I wanted to write again, but being a fiction writer was going to require that I take a day job. I needed a more reliable job than that. I thought of becoming an art teacher but quickly discovered through volunteering that teaching was not for me.
Things got better a year ago. After forging more bonds with my current friend group, I began playing Dungeons & Dragons again, started going back to school and performing excellently. I established a great rapport with my journalism teacher, and I’m still talking with him about several aspects of my last semester. With a bit of security in place, I began to climb Maslow’s Hierarchy. I began looking around for relationships, maybe there was something to try.
This year, I am in close range to graduation. Though some classes got cancelled due to low enrollment, the end is nonetheless in sight.
I am regularly writing for a local digital publication. My editor enjoys my work and has praised it on multiple occasions. If I know how to do one thing well, it’s journalism.
But I also reached the halfway point of my first novel, One Hundred Days of Mist. Sure, it’s only the first draft, but it’s on the page. Many don’t even get that far. I have 53,000 words that you can’t take away. Again, it’s a long ways away from being remotely ready for publication, but I can see it being built.
I feel like I’ve lived two lives already, in only the span of two years I have gone further than some other people have in their entire lifetime. It’s been a smorgasbord of adventures and not just in the tabletop realm. I feel good about myself, and I think I’ve come to a place where I can feel confident again.
When I spoke to my therapist a couple of weeks before, she informed me that we could not meet at our regularly scheduled time once every two weeks (I’d like to point out that we used to see each other weekly, but that was no longer needed) due to outside circumstances.
For the first time I responded with confidence, that I was going to be fine. I didn’t need to see her until a month from then, and that there was nothing to worry about.
It would be premature to say that I’ve gone as far as I can. The road ahead of me is long and winding, and there will undoubtedly be many bumps. Insecurities, worries, anxieties, and just the general setbacks that life will bring.
But I feel like I’m in a place where I can better deal with them. What would have destabilized me for days before can be handled more gracefully. Setbacks that would leave me to sulk in my room to play over events in my head on loop, can now be quieted with some effort.
I don’t feel like I need to constantly apologize for everything that I do. I spend less time perseverating over regrets and more time making good things happen.
I haven’t done the self-esteem exercises I previously mentioned after the third iteration. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t really need to. My positive self-talk has actually gotten to the point where I can say positive things about myself without much prompting.
I still intend to keep doing them, for moments of doubt will come and I’ll be turning to them once more. But the fact that I’ve gotten to the point where I am able to persist as such is heartening.
There were moments of darkness within all this. As I understood, relapse is part of recovery. But I have come back, and now as I look at the Dylan Greene I was many years ago I can see a clear change.
Looking Back to Look Forward
My point in laying out all of this is that I had no idea what would happen when I started this journey. If you spoke to me two years ago, I could not have possibly envisioned this future.
I know I’m not alone. There are many who are walking among the mists of depression, and they may not be able to see that there is a point where things do get better. But coming from a place of what seemed to be immeasurable darkness.
Now, I’m going to spend the rest of the day talking to someone awesome. For those who are struggling, know that if you face the darkness in your life, you can prevail.