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  • H.M. Jackson

Now Entering the Denial Spiral

Updated: Apr 16

Self-sabotaging, spiraling in denial, trying to hold it all together while pushing the root cause down - everything I know not to do, everything I preach about not doing, yet - here I am.

I've said it before, and I know I will say it again, but healing is not linear. Healing is up and down, it truly is waves. That's the entire basis behind learning to catch the waves, go with flow, and understand that at times your healing journey, that you might be riding through could crash - causing you to stop, re-adjust, and get back on board. However, even knowing that, I find myself stuck in a spiral of self-sabotaging, closing off, and ignoring the things I need to focus on. I've seen this film before, and in the wise words of T-Swizzle and Bon Iver, I did not like the ending - and I don't want to see this film again.

I realized this weekend; the last few months have been a true spiral. While I truly thought I had it all together, you know that's my best trick, holding together on the outside, succeeding in areas of work, and the community to put on a front. Especially as someone who doesn't love to talk or open up - (even though I am the first to say how important it is), it's hard. Instead, I put my head down, work my ass off to succeed to avoid people asking what's wrong. If I have it all together on the outside, surely, I will eventually pull myself out and move on. Right? Shocking, no. It will not last, and eventually I will crash - we all will if we continue avoiding the root issues.

Lucky for me, I did spend the last two years truly engulfed in therapy and riding the waves. I spent the time learning my window of tolerance, understanding my triggers, warning signs, and behaviors for when I do enter a spiral, or continue the spiral down towards the abyss. I spent the time to build my support system with my close friends and let them in - especially in areas I didn't want to, so that when I am spinning, if I don't recognize it (or pull my famous hat trick of true avoidance), they will call me on it. Again, luckily for me that is what happened recently.

I withdrew from my friends, focused on my work to continue my drive, but I was draining myself trying to hold it together. I shut down in therapy, I reverted back to not wanting to talk, even in session. I could feel the physical sensations of anxiety crippling me but couldn't open up and talk. I was easily frustrated, mad at myself, and trying to fill a void in all the wrong ways. All these items, but I continued to tell myself I was fine, just as I told everyone else around me I was fine, I didn't need to talk, everything was great, I mean look at me? Successful job, good life, everything is awesome.

Several months of this, and I still felt convinced I was truly fine, and it would pass. Even now as I sit here, reflecting on all of this, I realize how similar of a road map I was riding to two years ago, which is not a place I ever want to go to again. Here is the positive to me opening up in the past, and letting my friends in to a difficult spot, they didn't let me spiral all the way down, they helped me catch it. Between Makenzie, Avery and Brandi, they know me too well. While it is annoying, I'm thankful they know me like they do. I had completely withdrawn from Makenzie and Avery, not purposely, I just didn't have capacity in me because I was drained. I was in my head, beating myself up, and ignoring those around me. They all tried to check in, and I pushed them off. Then, Avery made a comment about Makenzie reaching out to her to check in on me, and then Avery casually said to me, "It is scary how good you turn it on at work, you would never know when you are having a hard time." I told her, "I know, it's always the happiest people who struggle the most I think, but I'm good."

After one more weekend of avoidance, it hit me like a train. "Hold on, wait a minute......" I reflected back and realized I had completely reverted back to two years ago, it was truly a road map of the same actions that led me into a complete spiral once before. Had Avery not made the comment, or pointed out that I wasn't talking to my friends, I don't know how long it would have taken me. Once I noticed and realized how much I had gone back to my 'complete spiral' habits, I was scared. Scared because I worked too hard to not be here, I worked too hard to better myself and open up, I worked too hard in therapy the last few years to spiral out now. I knew I had seen this film before, I also knew I didn't like the ending, and I wasn't going to watch it again. Clearly, my way of avoiding, repressing, and withdrawing had not been working the last several months, and I know it didn't work last time either.

So, shockingly, I opened up. I recognized what was happening and knew there is only way to end the spiral and the answer is not denial. The answer is opening up, talking, being honest in therapy about what I'm avoiding, and that's exactly what I'm going to continue to do. The only way out is through, as cliche as it is.

⎻ H.M. Jackson

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