Thank you for saving my life

Many times I’ve been asked, “who’s your hero?”. And many times I’ve searched for a true answer. I usually came up with a different family member, but I never truly believed it. I grew up in a family who didn’t express their emotions openly. We mostly kept to ourselves and lived individual lives. Family gatherings were and continue to bring me feelings of awkwardness and discomfort. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my mother unconditionally and she is a hero for holding our family together all those years. But I grew up an only child, feeling alone and wanting more.

Fast forward to today. I’m 33 years old and finding myself. A year ago I was at the lowest point of my life. As many of you are aware, I began noticing my first signs of eczema. Beyond the eczema were years and years of unattended anxiety, stress and depression. At 21 I had my first panic attack driving home from Vegas. At 26 I had my second panic attack at work. My wife came to pick me up and I went home, feeling paralyzed in my own body. I became afraid to go out in public for fear of another panic attack, and I constantly made sure I had benadryl onsite just in case. After that second panic attack I met with a therapist for the first time. This was the first time I ever opened up to anyone about my childhood and my father. My father had recently passed away and we had not communicated in a few years leading up to his passing. We met five times before she explained my insurance no longer allowed us to meet. At the time I felt like I had made progress and was okay with this decision. Knowing what I know now, I have the understanding that continuing was likely the better decision.

August 2021, I notice my first rash on my right wrist. I think it’s an irritation from an exercise band. A month later, it hasn’t responded to the numerous topical ointments applied. Even the urgent care doc was stumped. For the 5 years leading up to this, I have been slowly crumbling inside. I am quick to react to people, often becoming irritated at small things. My wife and I are continuously arguing (we were dating at this time). I find myself coping with my feelings by having a few drinks after work and on the weekends. Thankfully it never interfered with my life and I knew when to cut it off, but I was struggling with this relationship. I was mad at myself, mad at myself for my anger, and stuck in this loop of self destruction.

I remember two instances laying in bed, itching all over, never wishing this on my worst enemy. I look over to my wife and tell her I wished I was dead. I was in so much pain both physically with my skin, but emotionally as well. I was broken. I had hit rock bottom. I’ll never forget seeing and hearing my wife that night. The genuine fear and sadness in her voice. She was worried about me, and I was worried about myself.

January 2022. I made a promise to help myself. I began exploring breath work, journaling, and meditation. I began meeting with a therapist again. I found a job and a company that gave me a platform to express myself, all of myself, as I am. I began figuring out how to love myself, and through that how to find happiness. I have become fascinated with Buddhist teachings and the words of Thich Naht Hahn. One of my favorite lessons says without pain and suffering, we cannot truly appreciate and understand happiness.

For all the pain and suffering my skin has caused me, I say thank you. For without this suffering, I wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate the joy and happiness I now feel. Thank you for showing me the way to true healing. Thank you for making me a better husband and son. Thank you for helping me be a better friend and colleague. Thank you for showing me who my true hero is, myself. Thank you for saving my life.

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