Since I was a young child, I have always been an empathic person and been very curious and interested in other people. I enjoy hearing other people’s stories and learning how their experiences have shaped how they live their life. This interest and curiosity piqued while growing up with my older brother, who was plagued by depression, drug and alcohol use, and chaotic personal relationships and work situations. He wandered around aimlessly in his life and could never figure out what his purpose was or what could or would make him happy. He had no clue how to tune into his own needs and wants, as he worked to only survive in life and he got into relationships that were emotionally exhausting and sucked the life out of him. My brother died an early death at the age of 40 years old; he had a heart attack from many years of untreated high blood pressure. He had no idea of the extent of his medical problems, as he never slowed down enough to have a check up with a doctor and he lived a high-stress life with little sleep, lack of proper nutrition, and continued drug and alcohol use. I watched my brother slowly kill himself via lack of self-care and a “I’m too busy” attitude; he didn’t have enough self-worth or self-awareness to realize what he was doing, despite it being obvious to everyone around him.
My brother taught me that we cultivate our own lives and even if things seem hopeless, things can always shift towards growth if you choose that you want your situation to improve. It truly starts with a choice that you want something better for yourself, and that only YOU have the power to change things. My brother had so much potential and so many opportunities to create a better life for himself. It was truly heartbreaking to watch. By the time I experienced my own bouts of depression, I remembered my brother and realized that my self-loathing needed a serious reality check! With a little self-reflection, I realized that my depression had been the result of increased family stressors, being spread too thin with work responsibilities, not enough sleep or proper nutrition, and lack of self-care. I needed a mental break, a time-out, so to speak. I found myself a good therapist and got to work with putting myself back together so I could be “me” again. It took hard work, persistence, and a daily effort to get myself back on track with taking care of myself and attending to my own needs. I realized I was worth it, just like my brother was worth it, and just like you are worth it, too. Recovery starts with believing in yourself and realizing you deserve something better.