This week saw for me the start of my second semester at Slippery Rock University leaving me with only 2 more semesters before I will FINALLY have completed my bachelor’s degree. It is an indescribable feeling to see the end of the tunnel so close and to find myself steadily charging towards it. It is so hard to even think about the person I was just 4 years ago compared to the strong woman I am today, finally actually living my life.
However, even with all of these positives things happening and although I am feeling great both physically and emotionally, it has still only been 4 years and in the grand scheme of things, that’s not all that long. I need to remind myself that it is still a work in progress and it is OK to not always feel 100% and to still hold some of those memories of my darker times, even if it is just on a subconscious level.
Two weeks leading up to my first day of classes I began to have dreams that seemingly were recreating my past failures. I would find myself going to my new classes unprepared or without assignments that were due. Even more than that, and the dream that would hit home the most, was when I wouldn’t go to class at all and instead be sleeping in a dark dorm room.
Now, to many of you, these may sound like silly dreams and no big deal. What’s so upsetting about missing a class in your dreams? But for me, this was one of my worst nightmares.
When I attended Georgian Court University right out of high school, my days consisted of hiding away and sleeping in my dorm room. I would set alarms for classes, but would rarely find the energy or willpower to get up and make my way to the sessions. This went on for much of the fall semester until it finally all came to a head and I found myself in the mental health services office on campus talking to a woman who’s extreme youth and lost look as far as what to do to help me made me even more anxious. When she uncomfortably announced that the police were outside the door of her office to take me to the hospital and that I shouldn’t make a scene, I found myself at one of my lowest and scariest moment within my struggle with my mood disorder.
My dreams every night were reenacting the starting points that lead me to this exact moment.
With this context given, it is more than understandable that I am a bit shaken when I wake up in the morning. Ending up back in that place is my biggest fear.
Once I really thought about why I was having these dreams and so often, I realized that my biggest fear wasn’t just being back in that situation at school or back in a police car headed for a stint in a mental health facility. I am afraid that I have made so many powerful and consistent strides forward that I am due for a slip up. I can’t possibly keep going in this positive direction. Every time I have in the past, it has come to a screeching halt as I fall apart and lose my marbles once again.
And this fear has to stop.
Everyone who has personally struggled with something, whether it be a mood disorder, an addiction, a physical illness, or something else entirely, has felt like this at some point at least once, but usually many times, during recovery and sometimes throughout their entire lives. We have to give ourselves more credit than that! We deserve better.
This falls under the category of changing the tape in our heads, taking a negative thought and turning it positive or at the very least, neutralizing it. It’s not easy but it’s a skill and it can be learned with practice. I realized that these dreams are not going to stop until I start to consciously let go of the past. I need to start trusting myself and my progress and not fearing that in the next step or the one after that, it could all fall apart.
So let’s all make a pact, right here, right now – no more living in the past. No more stepping cautiously because we don’t trust ourselves to walk with confidence. No more not trusting ourselves and our progress. No more not living our lives to the absolute fullest.