It’s been a particularly rough few weeks.
There wasn’t one specific trigger. It was more like a persistent trickle of things chipping away at me until I finally broke down. I don’t feel like going into the details.
It was scary. The intrusive, suicidal thoughts were overwhelming and I started to worry that I couldn’t keep myself safe. Luckily, I have a strong support system at home.
It was also incredibly disheartening. This breakdown was so intense and I found myself completely unable to use any of the skills I’ve worked so hard on. It was hard to feel so helpless. I blamed myself for not being “strong enough” or not “trying hard enough”.
Now that I’m coming out the other side of this, I can tell myself that that was my inner critic talking. But when you’re in it, when you’re stuck in that dark place, feelings of guilt and shame are hard – if not impossible – to shift.
But I had a realisation.
I realised that in my attempt to improve myself, to strengthen myself, make myself a better person, my personal development journey had become toxic.
Constantly analysing my weaknesses and trying to implement new habits, new routines, a new *me* – I was exhausted. Exhausted from the effort of constantly pushing myself, and exhausted from trying to tackle every single conflicting flaw my brain could come up with.
Be hyper-productive, but don’t burn out.
Lose weight, but love your body as it is.
Stop feeling so much, but don’t bottle it up.
I read books and wrote lists and made schedules and drew up habit trackers and changed and stayed the same and changed again and tried and tried and tried until one day… I just couldn’t try anymore.
Everything came to an abrupt halt and I collapsed into a deep pit of self-hatred and despair. I didn’t want to die, but I most definitely didn’t want to be alive.
Thankfully, as it always does, this passed. But I knew I had to make a decision.
No more personal development. At least not to the extent I had been doing it.
I decided to get rid of the numerous self-help books on my bookshelf. I purged my Pinterest boards of personal development/productivity/self-improvement resources. I deleted apps off my phone. I cleared out files on my laptop.
The problem isn’t that I’m not trying hard enough. It’s that I’m trying too hard.
I bully myself relentlessly. I pretend to be okay when I’m not and just push on, terrified of being seen as weak or lazy. I keep my feelings locked away inside. I trap my words in my throat, letting them lodge there and build up until I can barely breathe.
It’s time to stop and let myself breathe. Let myself just be rather than constantly do.
Maybe I’ll let you know how it goes. Maybe I won’t.
Maybe I’ll just see how I feel.
How I really feel.