Embrace The Journey

Chris Ianni


**Trigger Warning**

This piece discusses suicide and suicidal ideation, and some people might find it disturbing. If you or someone you know is suicidal, please, contact your physician, go to your local ER, or call the suicide prevention hotline in your country. For the United States, the numbers are as follows:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255), or message the Crisis Text Line at 741741. Both programs provide free, confidential support 24/7.

  “Too Much” – a Drake song that always reminds me of Sean. “Don’t think about it too much” if only I could brush it off so easily…

Before I speak about my personal experience, I want to say thank you to both the Locke family and the boys of 136 for creating this platform and allowing me the opportunity to speak about my ongoing battle with my mental health. I was hesitant about writing this because, quite honestly, I don’t like drawing attention to myself; it enhances my anxiety. Nevertheless, sharing this is important to me. As scary as it is, I hope that writing this can help me heal. 

I went through a battle with Lymes Disease six years ago, one that affected me physically and emotionally. On top of the constant feeling of anxiety and wondering if I would ever feel better, I was slowly slipping into depression. I was too sick to do anything. I spent my days sleeping, trying to eat anything I could to keep from losing more weight, and hoping that one day I would simply wake up feeling normal.

 I missed so many things. It forced me to miss a semester of school, but I missed more than just my classes. I missed out on valuable time with my friends, and being isolated was the most challenging part. As years passed, I began to recover physically, but mentally I was falling into a sinking hole. I was frustrated, lost, and confused. I felt empty. I often wondered if my mind would ever rest. If this is how it was going to be forever, I didn’t want to do this. I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about how I felt because it didn’t seem fair to burden other people with my problems. 

The feeling of desolation became the norm. I simply just learned to live with it. I was never truly myself. I felt like I could never shake that permanent feeling of brain fog. Sure, I had days where my energy felt good, but at all times, I had a ticking time bomb in the back of my head of panic and anxiety, ready to explode at any moment. At times I didn’t even feel comfortable leaving the house; I was so content just being alone sleeping all day. It was where I felt safe. But it was only making things worse. I was stuck. I began thinking about ways to better myself. I saw a therapist, but to me, that wasn’t going to be enough. I started working out pretty regularly; it was my getaway, where I could clear my mind. It felt like a positive step because at least I was trying. 

Little did I know my biggest test was yet to come, moving across the country. I needed a fresh start; it was necessary for my growth. My family and almost all my friends were still back in Delaware. What if something happened? That fear always filled my thoughts. As more and more time passed, I felt like I still couldn’t get over that hump. The constant feeling of anxiety with the daily waves of depression were taking over my mind. I felt lost that I was just going through the motions of this meaningless life. I felt like I had nothing that I was simply just there. Dark thoughts of do I even belong here, mixed with does anybody even care? Where do I go from here? I knew I couldn’t live like this long term. It wasn’t sustainable. 

I’ve never been an expressive person, speaking on how I truly feel. I never felt comfortable doing so. I’ve been so used to holding in all these thoughts and emotions; it became the norm just to bottle them in. Being consumed by and suppressing my  thoughts was beginning to take over my everyday life. I felt like I wasn’t able to entirely focus on things that mattered most to me, and that genuinely hurt me.

That leads me to this very moment today. I had to sit down and do some self-reflection. Days filled with frustration, sadness, tears, sleepless nights, all of which felt uncontrollable. I can’t live like this. I know deep down inside of me that this energetic, caring kid wants the best for not only himself, but for others as well. I took some time to myself to contemplate what kind of man I aspire to be. How can I grow from this and become that person, but also be there and support others going through similar situations at the same time.

The truth of the matter is, I am still struggling this present day. I am still searching for the best ways to overcome this, but that’s ok. I am learning to embrace the journey. I am becoming deeply invested and committed to helping myself. I’m trying to focus my attention on things that will help me grow and be a better person for myself. Nothing is accomplished overnight. Success is a series of small victories. Do you live in the past on certain things which then allow them to dictate your future? Maybe I have been letting my emotions get the best of me. At times my mind wanders and I can’t help it.  All these years of built up anger and frustration inside me, I’ve been letting them control me. But it’s time I take control before things escalate further. We weren’t raised in a culture where it is okay to not be okay. But, you have to be willing to understand that you’re allowed to feel that way! You must live your truth. That includes not hiding if you are feeling a certain way and want to speak up. At first, nervousness and anxiety filled my brain as I thought about this change and entering upon a new journey to find peace.  This is all new and fresh to me, I truly have never just set the time aside for myself to work on self-love. As scared as I am, I’m incredibly excited to learn about my emotions and thoughts. I’m looking forward to embracing this feeling of uncertainty and getting to that place of being comfortable and content with my thoughts and emotions.

I read a quote the other day by Bob Dylan that stood out to me that said, “Destiny is a feeling that you know something about that nobody else does. The picture you have in your mind of what you’re about will come true.” It is ourselves who are in control of our own emotions. Be that person you want to be and start living by that. 

I want people to know my story not because I’m searching for sympathy, rather because I know we are all battling something. It’s ok to be frustrated. But to not be discouraged, but embrace the position you’re in, and trust the process. It will not happen overnight, but that’s the beauty of it. All this time, I’ve been so focused on the future, thinking there was this imaginary timetable when things might be better, that I entirely forgot what matters most, the NOW. I’m learning to live in the moment and trying not to look too far ahead, for I’m causing self induced anxiety over something that has not even occurred yet. I’m learning about different ways to help cope with these emotions. I understand this is a long process that requires daily work, but I’m happy about breaking out of my comfort zone. 

I’m beginning to focus on my true passions and other ways that ease my mind, such as cooking and running. What do YOU love to do? Find joy in things you genuinely enjoy doing. I encourage you to speak out, do not hesitate to express your thoughts or ask for help. Be free with your mind. Do not be defined by the bad days.

Family, friends, humans, we must be conscious of others’ emotions and feelings. We must listen diligently to each other. We must grow together. Most importantly, we must be patient. I want you to know that you indeed are never alone. I understand the pain, the frustration, that feeling of no worth. 

I want to hear your story. I want to talk to you. Whether we know each other or not, I want you to know that I care about you. Please reach out to me at any time to talk about how we will get through this together. There is so much beauty in this life, so much to be happy about. This is only the beginning. There is so much that has yet to be written. I look forward to speaking with you and embracing the journey together. 

If you want to talk, please do not hesitate to reach out to me via phone at 302-367-9967. I know how good it feels to just have somebody to talk to about anything. I promise you this is a judgement free zone. We are living in unprecedented times right now, I understand that feeling of being overwhelmed. Be patient. Listen to yourself. Remember, you are loved. You are incredibly important to me and the world, and I’m both excited yet grateful to ride along with you to find our inner peace.

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