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Jun5
2014

Whatever It Is, It’s Already Here

By Amanda Kasper

“It’s OK. Whatever it is, it’s already here. Let me feel it.”

During my second week in an outpatient psychiatric program, we did a mindfulness meditation which involved listening to the repetition of this mantra alongside slow, deep breaths and quiet music. Months later, those are still the words I say to myself when I feel like the walls are beginning to creep back up again, when the feelings become bigger than I am.

My anxiety and depression didn’t come gradually. They didn’t slowly introduce themselves into my life, to my family, my friends. They just showed up on my doorstep one day, unannounced, and began unpacking their things.

In 2009, I became physically ill with symptoms that mirrored Crohn’s disease. Several years of doctors, hospitals, medications, and life-altering symptoms taught me I had no choice but to be resilient. In the spring of 2013, I was finally diagnosed with a rare disease called Mastocytic Enterocolitis. Last month, I was diagnosed with another rare and competing disorder called Waldmann’s disease. On a daily basis, I experience more physical pain and uncomfortable GI symptoms than I ever could have imagined. What I can and cannot eat, what my body will or will not reject, the levels of pain and nausea in my body … it all changes on a daily, or sometimes even hourly, basis.

At best, it’s challenging, and at worst, it’s impossible to live with.

Last year, it became too much for me to bear. I didn’t want to do it anymore.

I wanted to be done. I wanted out.

I was used to suffering through horrible physical symptoms and their ramifications; but the mental ones were different. They were overwhelming. They were painful. They were too hard to talk about (this from a girl who has had to describe most bodily functions to dozens of doctors and hundreds of acquaintances, friends, and family members).

I burrowed. I folded into myself. I thought that I had to be depressed and anxious alone. I thought I couldn’t tell anyone that I desperately wanted to end my life.

I desperately wanted to end my life.

How do you come back from that? How do you push the thought away, for good?

I’ll start by telling you this: You can’t do it alone. One of the things that has always resonated most with me from TWLOHA is the statement “people need other people.” There might not be anything more true in this world, especially when dealing with mental health.

My journey to recovery has been rocky. It’s been complicated. It has involved so, so many people, without whom I honestly might not still be standing. It required love and support (from myself and others) and a significant amount of radical acceptance—a concept I learned in group therapy.

“It’s OK. Whatever it is, it’s already here. Let me feel it.”

I learned that it was OK, and necessary, to validate my feelings, both physical and emotional. I learned that a lot of days involve wrestling with myself; sometimes accepting that what is just simply is, other times feeling completely oppressed by the things I am experiencing. Most importantly, I learned that even when I didn’t want to fight for myself, there were a lot of other people in my life who I wanted to fight for. People who wanted, or rather, needed me to keep fighting.

Sometimes I remember that I have a story, which isn’t over yet; in truth, I think parts of it have just begun. But most of the time I remember that the people I love and cherish also have stories, and I want to be a part of those. Marriages, and families, and careers, and dreams coming true … I want to be here. I want to see them. Let me feel it.

The truth is, I hope to have the same.

But it took me a long time to want that. I’m not going to lie, it was exhausting, and challenging, and overwhelming. Recovery wasn’t anything like the straight line I imagined. It was two steps forward, then one or two, even three steps backward. It was hard as hell. And sometimes it felt like it was never going to get easier, that it was never going to hurt less.

The thing to remember is that your life doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Whatever you’re feeling in this moment, know that your life matters. Your story matters. You are important to someone, to many-ones. Never doubt that.

Wherever you are today, right now, put your hand over your heart.

Feel that? Your heartbeat … You’re here.

And wherever you are, you’re not alone. I can promise you that. Someone, somewhere is feeling something like what you’re feeling.

Tonight, maybe that someone, somewhere, is me. 

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Comments (14)

  1. K.X.

    Amanda, I’m so proud of you. I’m honored to be a part of your journey. You are so brave.

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  2. L

    Thank you so much for this post. Thank you for your honesty. It reminds me that I am not alone and that ‘people need other people’. Desperately.

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  3. Anonymous

    Thank you for this. What really got to me was the line: “I learned that even when I didn’t want to fight for myself, there were a lot of other people in my life who I wanted to fight for”. I needed this today. Thank you for sharing it.

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  4. Cassandra

    For some reason your blog is exactly what I needed to hear tonight. Thank you. It was beautiful and inspiring and so true. One thing people need to do is accept what they feel, not hide from it. Thank you for opening my eyes a little more.

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  5. Lisa

    Some times the hardest part is finding the people who will be there to help you through the worst moments in life. Those people are priceless!

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  6. Maritza Meza

    Thank you, for sharing and this is amazing. I couldn’t have described it any better. You are not alone and we are not alone.

    Simply amazing.

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  7. WaToWi

    So powerful… “I didn’t want to fight for myself, there were a lot of other people in my life who I wanted to fight for.”
    Thank You for sharing your story.

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  8. Caroline

    Hey Amanda, thank you for that. It made me feel a little better.
    Today I’m feeling like the last person of the world and your words touched me. I’ll try to remember them.

    Love, Carol

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  9. Ayesha Qadeer

    Thank you so much for sharing your story.I am so proud of you and look up to you. I think it takes a lot to come out and talk. I wish I’ll do it someday. Sending you lots of love
    – Ayesha

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  10. Anonymous

    Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that sometimes those individuals fail to see past the fact that there are others who are there for them and want to be there for the hurts and hidden feelings. Their are other people out there fighting for them and who would drop everything in that heartbeat they feel to be there for them and this ranges from the littlest ones to the oldest ones. No matter who you are, they are there and want you to continue to fight even when you feel there is no fighting left. Reach out, let someone be there for you. Just as you may feel all alone they too will feel alone should you not recognize that, “The thing to remember is that your life doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Whatever you’re feeling in this moment, know that your life matters. Your story matters. You are important to someone, to many-ones. Never doubt that.” We want you here for your life does indeed matter.

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  11. R.E.O.

    Thank you for sharing your difficult story. It’s a large step to realize we’re all a part of something bigger and I completely agree with your feelings on “people need other people”. Your description of the will to fight, the need to survive resonated with me very deeply.

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  12. Alison

    As someone with 12 different stomach illnesses, two bone illnesses and a severe neurological disease that has left me seriously ill, predominatly bedridden and with an uncertain life expectancy, i send you all my love. God bless x x

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  13. Kari

    Wonderfully written! I have have a terminal disease and i feel the same way sometimes! Hang in there! Hugs & love and keep writing!!

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  14. Emma

    Thank you.

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