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How I Learned I Was An Escapist, And Why I’m Better For It

Your mental needs can change, and sometimes your coping mechanisms change with it.

Unsplash | @rithika_gopal

Disclaimer: I am not, nor do I claim to be, a medical professional. The information below comes from personal experience. Please do not use this in place of professional care.

Escapism (es·cap·ism):

Noun

The tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy.


When you’ve dealt with consistent, and somehow irregular, fluctuations in your mental health, it can be easy to fall further and further into negative ruts. The older we get the more we change, and so do our mental needs and hardships. From a personal standpoint, I can honestly say my depression now is nothing like it was a few years ago; oddly enough it’s both worse AND better. As for my anxiety? Let’s just say it’s a gift from college that I’m ready to return.


Yes, these things are rough on their own, and sure, they suck ass. But I was someone who’d been used to dealing with a negative mindset.

Notice the past tense there?


As I got older and traveled further down my path of healing, I’d realized that now, more than ever, feeling miserable seemed to be my default setting.


Where my depression had been somewhat contained in the past, the recent introduction to anxiety broke that mold. Suddenly I wasn’t just feeling controlled bursts of negativity: it flowed like a constant stream in the back of my mind, randomly peaking but never leaving. Talking didn’t make me feel better, art was never more than a distraction, and the isolation I endured (both physically and mentally) just ate away at my strength. I found myself losing touch with my identity.


I knew who I was, but I felt like I was just going through the motions. The fire that fueled my ambition—that made me proud of my creativity, and let me hope for the future—barely felt like a spark.


I was spiralling and struggling, trying every technique I could to feel connected again but nothing worked. That is, until my saving grace came to me in the most unexpected ways: an anxiety attack, a friend, and some personal realizations.


I had a tendency for escapism without even realizing it.