On loss, sadness and the capacity of moving on

At the end of January, a good friend of mine passed away in a car accident. Soon after, two of my friends lost their respective fathers. In the midst of all this heartache, I had to deal with my own struggles. I was on the verge of losing a job that I loved and worked hard for, facing another period of financial insecurity and desperate job search. These events, combined with the greyest and gloomiest time of the year, resulted in one of the hardest, most painful stages of my early adult life.

Everything seemed deeply unfair on multiple levels and nothing, absolutely nothing seemed to go right. I felt alone in an apartment I would soon be unable to afford. My heart was broken after the irrevocable loss of a dear friend and I couldn’t bear to tell anyone about my own professional failures. I was discouraged, angry, sad, and depressed.

Even though I had friends and family supporting me and trying to share my sorrows, I gave way to endless days of crying and despairing. I was unable to sleep, I ate very little. I went out solely to smoke on our porch. Cigarette after cigarette, I tried to fog out my mind, clouds of smoke slowly enveloping me, eating me away.

By mid-February, nothing had changed. Every day was more or less the same: I would wake up before lunchtime, still tired because of the nightmares that transformed my sleeping hours into a sequence of crying, nightmares and 5-minute deep sleep sessions. Then I would eat something, smoke a lot and watch Netflix compulsively until it was time to go back to bed.

Guilt was crushing me. I knew I wasn’t doing anything to better my life. The emergency reserves in our bank accounts would soon be depleted and I hadn’t sent out a single job application or updated my CV in the slightest.

My nightmares were the worst part of this self destructive cycle. They came creeping from the back of my mind just when I thought I was finally going to fall asleep. I never remembered exactly what had happened, but they were dark, painful and heartbreaking. I would wake up with a jerk, sometimes waking my boyfriend in the process. Then, I would be unable to calm down for at least an hour, crying and shivering until I was too tired to go on.

Something had to change, and soon.

I would like to believe it was the thought of my dear friend, laughing and smirking at me because I shut myself off from everyone instead of going out and having a few drinks. But I know it wasn’t just that. I knew that I was going to die (both metaphorically and literally) if I didn’t do something about it. In retrospect, if it wasn’t for my partner who took care of me, I wouldn’t be here, writing about this.

With his help (actually, with a lot of help from everyone who love me), I forced myself to wake up early every day. I started eating breakfast. I started meditating again every night before sleep, which helped me with my thoughts and my nightmares. I tried to be present and to be more open about my struggles with my friends and family, which was met with incredible support I had never sensed before. I even tossed aside my smoking habit with the help of a coaching app my boyfriend suggested to me. I started going out for walks, listening to podcasts, keeping my mind busy. I even got horribly drunk with a friend once, which reminded me of all the reasons why I’m not particularly fond of extreme partying.

I updated my CV, sent cover letters to companies and even landed an interview that lead to a testing period, which I am currently undertaking. Fingers crossed it goes well and lands me the position!

And then, somehow, I came through. Granted, the nightmares are still present. The clench has loosened up, but the hand is still there, ready to strike at the first sign of weakness. But now I know I am able to fight it.

It’s not much, but it definitely is something, and I need to hold on to that at all costs.