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When Life Tells You To Slow Down

Photo by Jay Mantri

There was a point in my life where my nickname might as well had been superwoman; I literally tried to do anything and everything under the sun because in my world, that is what productivity looked like.
Living in NYC can always make you feel like there’s no excuse for not being productive. New Yorkers don’t slow down or stop; we go until we can’t go anymore. I eventually found myself drained and exhausted. Burnt out might be the proper terminology for what I was going through because I couldn’t feel anything except a wave of tiredness and emotional distress.
I always knew that I needed to slow down, but what does slowing down look like? Does it make me look lazy? Does it make me seem unfulfilled with my life? Or even worse, will it make me more susceptible to depression? These were the questions I would always ask myself.
Productivity was once a cover up that over time became a habit. In the midst of my battle with depression, loneliness and isolation were my two best friends. People around me began to notice and when I didn’t want anyone to know that I was slipping through the cracks of discouragement and distress I created a to-do list to keep myself occupied. I always felt that depression couldn’t come to visit me if I was never home. So I checked out, I always made excuses and told myself that I needed to be busy, I needed to always be occupied because being productive felt better than being lonely.
Depression always interfered with my life, which I’m sure, if you are someone who has had to fight this fight you would understand why I would do anything to avoid the symptoms that come with encountering this monster. I hid behind my schedule, I never stayed home because home was too much a familiar place – it’s where I could smell the melancholia and feel the woefulness.
This quest for productivity became a desperate distraction. To me, spending all day in a supermarket was better than having to be alone with myself. So when my body finally gave in I became flooded with worry because my greatest coping mechanism was taken away from me and I was left having to do what I always feared doing – being alone with just me, myself and I.
If there is one thing that my journey with depression has taught me, it is to make room for learning to spend time with myself. I am not sure, which one is worse, being afraid of being alone, or being afraid of being alone with yourself. Maybe the two overlap, but for me I always feared what I would encounter about myself if I truly took the time out to get to know myself. All my life all I knew is that I had a history of struggling with depression, but I also realized that there is so much more to me other than my mental health status.
In the midst of journeying with myself I discovered every intricate part of me that makes me unique. When I took off the superwoman cape that I hid behind for so long I stumbled upon so many strengths that were hidden beneath my weaknesses. I was awakened to the idea that the best form of productivity is found within the quiet time you have with yourself, not by tallying off how many items you can accomplish in one day.
I encourage you to take a break from that productive lifestyle that you’ve created and create more of a schedule that pertains to learning and loving yourself. You are more than a depression diagnosis and anxious symptoms. You are more than the hours you spend at work or the to-do list hanging on your fridge. I understand that it’s scary, learning to spend time with myself has been the hardest thing I ever had to do in life but it also has been rewarding for my soul.
So use this time to take off that superhero cape and become one with your mind, body, soul and spirit. Step away from yourself and be open to following the course life has carved out for you. Be at peace with yourself and know that it is okay to love yourself in the quiet hour of the night and not just during the busy hours of your day. When life tells you to slow down, don’t be afraid, listen.
Written by, 
Minaa B.

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