Saturday, April 28, 2018

When You Can't Have Closure

If there's one thing millennials have the desire to work on, it's their mental health. Not that we don't work on other things; if you are of the opinion that millennials are lazy and want everything handed to them on a silver platter, you should simply click away right now. Not because that is what this post will be about, but because I have absolutely no room for that opinion or negativity in my life.

Moving on, I have spent the better part of the last four years working on my own mental health. I've fought depression and anxiety for half of my life by now. I've been in therapy, I've been on medication, I've been in the hospital. But so far, the best healing that I've found have been the things I've done on my own (with some help along the way, mostly from people who are not mental health professionals).

I've been blessed with a spouse who understands that at this point in my life, since I have had to push it to the back burner for so long, my mental health is of the utmost importance. In order to be a functioning human being, I need to fix what's broken inside. However, delving deep into your own mind can be a scary and dangerous thing... But it can also be liberating.

I'm talking about repressed memories. It seems to me that the further you explore yourself, the better your own mind gets at exploring itself without your guidance, which can mean remembering a memory that you had locked away at 2am while everyone around you is sleeping, your spouse is leaving for another state the next morning, and you won't have anyone to talk this through with except for yourself.

Obviously, this happened to me. However, I was fortunate enough to develop a shockingly healthy habit a few weeks in advance to this revelation: video journaling. I'm the type of person whose thoughts move too fast for me to be able to write them down quickly enough. It's why I actually have a hard time writing, because my thoughts flow faster than my fingers can (despite the fact that I am a relatively fast typist), and why I have moved more toward voice-to-text while I am in the comfort of my own home. My limbs simply can't move like my mind does, so when I try to write down my thoughts in a traditional journal setting (I've kept many private blogs through the years, but can never seem to stick to them), I eventually get frustrated and stop. Which is why I began video journaling.

So when that repressed memory came charging back at 2am and I had no where to turn except for one single friend who was awake (bless the time difference... for once), they helped me by providing me with some tips they'd learned in therapy. And considering that this was a situation that I had no intention of bringing up with the person who featured in the memory (as the tips I received more or less leaned toward), I had to work through this on my own. Which is when I turned to video journaling.

And here, my friends, is where I tell you how I worked through four different scenarios on my own by giving myself the closure I needed, one being a repressed memory and the others simply being situations with other people in my life that have had no answers or resolutions. Please keep in mind that I'm sharing something that worked for me in a dark place, and that by no means is this the advice of a medical professional. If it works for you, fantastic. But try it at your own risk.

Step 1:

Turn on the camera and start talking. If this is your first time, introduce yourself and the situation. Explain what just happened. It's helpful if you can see yourself on the screen. Our brains like to talk to other people, so even though you are truly talking to yourself, your brain will flow a little better if it thinks it is having a conversation. It also helps with this next part.

Step 2:

Play the other person and give yourself closure. Apologize on their behalf for what they did to you. Explain their actions. Rewrite the story. Did you know that our memories aren't true memories? When you remember something, you are remembering the last time you remembered it. This is why memories become warped over time. You can literally rewrite your own memories by imagining over them. So do that. Stop the traumatic experience before it starts and, using dialogue (or whatever works for you), have a calm and rational conversation with yourself and the other person/people, playing all sides. Write the script in the way you need it to go. Don't forget the original memory or what happened, but change what you need to change in order to move past it.

While I'm not willing to share the repressed memory because it is much too personal, I am happy to share the other three scenarios that I rewrote for myself using this method. They're all friendships that ended without a word and without any closure. We were fine one day and the next, they simply stopped responding to me, after having been an integral part of my life for such a long time. So what did I do? I had a conversation with them. And on their behalf, I explained to myself why they did this, that they enjoyed my friendship but had to move past it due to reasons unrelated to me, that they wished me well, and that they were sorry that things moved in the direction they did.

I realized that I had been holding on to a lot of sadness that was parading around as anger towards these people, but today I feel like I've made a huge leap toward healing, and I no longer feel that anger. Of course I feel sadness, but I can feel it for what it is now; a loss. I talked to myself for over 25 minutes. I cried a lot and I was exhausted afterwards. But today I feel at peace.

This is a method that I will be sticking to for a long time to come and I've already started a list of "people" I need to have "conversations" with (although I may need an external hard drive soon; videos do not take up a small amount of space!), and I am happy to have come across it just in time for me to start taking my own steps toward healing. I may not be able to undo the damage that has been done, but I can stop these scenarios from creating more pain and hurt so that I can work on being whole again.