What I’ve Learned in 2020
2020 has been a year of change.
On top of the political unrest, unstable administration, global pandemic, crashing economy, and countless other curveballs thrown our way (remember the murder hornets?), I chose to undergo an additional transition: wean myself off of antidepressants I’d been on for about 10 years.
I know, I know. Brilliant timing, right?
I’d been wanting to get off of meds for...well, since I started them in the first place. I never felt completely comfortable taking a pill every day, even if I understood all the reasons I was doing it.
(My impulse at this point is to explain all the reasons I started on medication, but I’m going to stop myself. First of all, doing so makes me feel like I have to justify the decision to go on them, and I don’t need to or want to do that. It was the right decision at the time; it helped me be able to function. The reasons why I started on meds are also not the point right now.)
What I will tell you is why this year felt like the right time to be going off medication, despite all the chaos swirling around us.
When I first started taking meds, I was living a life I thought I “should” be living. I was happy in stretches and enjoying my life, but I would feel anxiety and depression frequently, often to a crippling degree. At the time, I saw those feelings as problems that needed to be solved so I could go on with my life.
In some ways, that’s true—medication definitely helped me graduate college. But I was feeling anxious and depressed because I was living out of alignment from my values. My instincts were telling me, “something’s not right,” but I was doing everything I thought I should be doing, so how could that be the case? Even if I had understood this lack of alignment, I don’t think I knew myself well enough then to make a meaningful change.
My life looks very different now. I’ve built a business aligned with my values and goals. I’ve been intentional about how I spend my time and who I surround myself with. I’ve done a lot of work on myself and I’ve developed self-care practices that keep me centered.
When I’m feeling anxiety now, there’s a reason. The anxiety itself isn’t a problem that needs solving. Instead, it’s a signal. A spidey sense. A metric informing me as to how I’m interacting with the world. When I feel anxious now, it means I need to take a step back and figure out the reason. I don’t need to make the feeling go away, I need to stop and listen to what it’s telling me.
This revelation cracked everything wide open.
It means there’s nothing wrong with me. This thing that had previously felt like a character flaw or a chemical imbalance in my brain has been right all along. By acknowledging the strength of my intuition, I can transform this thing I’d previously considered a defect into a superpower.
And not just a superpower, a feminine superpower. A feminine superpower that by nature is a revolutionary act against white supremacist, patriarchal culture.
Patriarchy wants us detached from our emotions, following the status quo, staying in line. It wants us disconnected from nature and each other. If we start listening to our intuition, the jig is up. The corruption and exploitative power structures become impossibly clear. It becomes unthinkable to continue living quietly under them. Patriarchy doesn’t want us understanding our own potential. White supremacy doesn’t want us realizing our interconnectedness.
Which, of course, just makes me want to dig in deeper.
I’m having a profound experience of re-learning, seeing the world through my own familiar eyes for both the first and millionth time.
It feels like a return to something I didn’t know I’d forgotten. Interwoven in all I’m learning about myself is a deep connection with others and with the earth. I feel wings expanding from my shoulder blades and my feet sinking past soil, into a network of tree roots.
There is nothing wrong with me. And there’s nothing wrong with you, either.