According to convention wisdom, it seems there are two ways of completely changing your life, in the case that you wake up one day and realize you’ve been living it entirely wrong.
The first way involves introducing small changes that you repeat over time until they become habits. The only way for something to stick, one hears, is to start small, one change at a time. Only if what you’re looking to do is make lots of really big changes, that’s not really the advice you want to hear. Admittedly, the reaction to such advice doesn’t make much sense, which is to not make any changes at all. After all, if you’d started making those small changes one by one a year ago, you might have an entirely different life by now.
But still, when one is trapped in fear and desperation, the idea of somehow ignoring all of that and going about your day, slowly becoming untrapped, undesperate, and no longer paralyzed by anxiety and soul-crushing sadness doesn’t always sound like a fun option.
The second way involves having some transformative event that completely changes one’s life a la the Biblical Road to Damascus transformation of Saul to Paul. You hear about these types of events all the time: “it changed my life”, someone might say, and they don’t mean that in the way that everyone’s life changes all of the time with everything we do, but rather that they went from one kind of life to a different kind of life. I had hoped that a near-death experience would have come complete with a life exchange silver lining, but you can’t get everything you wish for.
Perhaps fortunately, a complete mental breakdown may be all that a girl needs, so I’ve been exploring that possibility. I had been toying with the idea of having myself (hopefully temporarily) committed to an institution whose sole goal it is to provide transformative events through serious medical treatment, but I’ve since discovered one of those more peaceful (by which I mean luxurious, by which I mean expensive) locations that celebrities retreat to due to “exhaustion”. And now that I have taken enough Xanax, I even feel stable enough to book into the non-clinic portion of said location (by which I mean, the section that doesn’t have admittance rules banning sharp objects).
Will it really help? I have no idea. The mental breakdown itself is already dramatically changing my behavior. “You’re saying no to things. That’s great!” says my breakdown-triggered newly appointed twice-a-week psychologist. It’s not the result of the efforts of something I’m trying to do, I explain. I mentally have no ability to add anything else. I’ve become completely non-functional. I have no choice but to say no. She suggests I look at things differently. I’m still meeting deadlines, finishing projects, running a company. I finished the manuscript for the new edition of my book. I’m going to the gym. I may not be as functional as I’m used to, but I’m functioning.
I think of all of the things I haven’t done. Everything I’m completely blocking from my mind because it’s the only way I can function at all. The mornings I need a Xanax to get out of bed because I wake up mid-panic attack. The times I’ve been unable to move from the couch. For hours. How I went to bed last night at 8pm and slept for 12 hours, waking up only for the nightmares. That doesn’t feel like functioning to me.
So maybe that’s the transformative event. I can’t go on feeling like this. Insanity, after all, it doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So if I want to end up feeling differently than this, I will have to do something other than what I’ve been doing (by which I mean for my entire life).