I'm Sergio. I was 29 years old and now I am 31. And I was very lost.
To say that I got "out" of a crisis is to put it mildly. It was more like escaping from a darkness that was trying to swallow me whole. I think of that time as my existential crisis. Everything in my life seemed to be going wrong, I was so anxious and depressed that I could barely function.
On the surface, I had everything going for me. I was self-sufficient, I lived in a decent flat, I had a permanent job and my boss sponsored me because he saw potential.
But inside I felt like something was wrong, I started having serious mental health issues and existential angst and had to face some hard truths about what was going on in my life.
Denial and silent suffering was a big part of the problem.
My catchphrase at the time was "I'm fine."
"How are you today?" "I'm fine, thanks for asking. How are you?"
I was always trying to change the subject to something other than me.
Scared, insecure and anxious, he was not well. But I couldn't say anything, I had studied a career that I liked, I had a decent salary, a house that was fine... What reason did I have for being so lost and empty?
When I got to the bottom of the well, I tried to avoid all contact with my surroundings. I isolated myself from the world.
If you are struggling with depression or some kind of disorder or illness, please don't wait as long as I did to ask for help.
So how did I get over it?
I had to admit that I had a problem, and then I looked for help. I spent a lot of time reflecting, and made some big changes in my life. Here are the top five things I did to get out of my meltdown.
1) Professional help.
I started going to a psychologist. It was hard to talk about painful things, but I was able to because I knew that nothing I said would get out of the therapist's office. It was a safe space where I could be myself and express my feelings without anyone judging me.
If you are going through a crisis or any difficulty that is causing you emotional and mental distress, please seek the help of a professional. I know it's hard to take that step, but you'll be glad you did.
2) I learned about emotional intelligence.
Instead of being intimidated, I learned to treat myself as I would treat a good friend, I managed to change my way of thinking.
I created a safe space in my mind where I began to work on complicated feelings that I had been ignoring for years. Now I notice how that inner work has made me more resilient both emotionally and mentally.
3) I changed jobs.
I quit a job I hated at a bank and became a freelance photographer. This was what has marked a before and after in my life. For the first time in years I no longer woke up every morning tired and depressed.
We spend a large part of our lives at work. Sometimes, especially after school, we have to do jobs that we don't like. But if you spend years stuck in a job or field that doesn't satisfy you, it will take its toll. Ask yourself what you enjoy doing and what you're good at. Then find out how you can help people and make money doing it.
5) I have rediscovered my intellectual curiosity, my values and my purpose.
Somehow, in the years after college, I lost my old passion for reading. My curiosity to study had vanished. He no longer knew what he was interested in. I began to lose my identity.
"Once you stop learning, you start dying." - Albert Einstein
In my desperation to get better, I started reading again. At first they were just self-help books. Then I started with other things, philosophy, psychology, politics. Some of my old opinions and beliefs completely changed. I felt less cynical and more hopeful. I took stock of my values and began to discover a new meaning, a purpose.
Re-discovering my intellectual curiosity gave me a new energy.
Even if you don't feel like it, read. Read an author or listen to a podcast you disagree with. Hear both points of view on a controversial topic. In doing so, you may find yourself with both of these results: 1) You'll be shocked and start wondering, or 2) You'll start thinking about all the specific ways you disagree.
Either way, it will get your brain working. This will distract you from negative and unhealthy thoughts.
And now that?
My life is not perfect, nobody's life is. I work daily to improve. The difference is that now I am aware of my ups and downs and I have tools with which I can overcome the bad moments.
In short, the five things I did were:
1) Talk to a professional.
2) Practice introspection and self-knowledge.
3) Set healthy boundaries in relationships.
4) I reassessed my career path and made a change.
5) I discovered new intellectual curiosities, my values and new purpose.
If you do these five things, you will come out of the crisis with a new confidence. You will know yourself better and you will feel better in your own skin.