It's Sunita here.
I recognize the look on Gracie Gold's face in this picture. Gracie details her fall from figure skating champ to near suicide
I remember what it felt like when I realized that the only way out of the hell I inhabitated was to start fighting the demons that resided deep inside me. Intense feelings of shame, embarrassment, self hatred and a sense of failure invaded my entire being. Little did I know then that these emotions were a ploy of depression and the unconscious processes sabotaging my efforts to seek the care that I needed. I look back and thank my lucky stars that I kept fighting through painful feelings and persevered with therapy and self discovery to be where I am now.
Having a successful outside life was not a facade for me. It came about fair and square through hard work, tenacious efforts, dedication and discipline. And with the help and support of a wonderful family and mentors and of course, many lucky breaks. However, it also served as a diversion that aided and abetted me in avoiding the pain that I was feeling.
My success also caused me question the existence of my depression, anxiety and mental suffering. I learnt to negate and downplay my emotions by lying to myself- I'm feeling this way because I have an exam coming up- I'm stressed because I need more new patients in my practice- I have to learn more to be able to practice the way I want to...
It was a never ending list of I need to do more- I need to be more
There were not enough medals for me to win. There were not enough courses for me to take. The pursuit of perfection came easy to me because I am a born learner and am committed to self improvement. But my journey was accompanied by an unconscious thoughtlessness and hidden emptiness. The effects of Attachment Trauma, toxic stress and ACE's would reappear after the initial thrill of an accomplishment died down and would lay seige on my mind, body and soul. This would happen again and again. Predictably and consistently.
The other side of the success coin was massive guilt. How dare I feel down when I have the life I have. Others would kill for what I've accomplished. I'm ungrateful. I don't even really deserve my success. What do I have to complain about. Shame on me.
In the end, I had to battle the trappings of every aspect of my external life to seek help for my broken internal world. I had to leave my fake pride and ego at the door and acknowledge that I needed help. I had to refuse to wear the visible labels of my life to find out who I truly was.
So I had to strip. And ask for help.
It was scarcely a whisper
That escaped the long hush
A plea undiscovered
In a language unknown
It was missed all along
By the light keeper on call
Eclipsed by the storm
Oppressed by the calm
Some part of a delusion
Or a chimera
#27 in the collection
Stripping:My Fight to Find Me
I wish Gracie all the luck in the world as she embarks on fighting her demons. I applaude her courage to stand up and say 'I need help'. I admire her honesty and her refusal to continue to suffer emotionally. I cheer her on as she honors her inside world and gives it the attention and tender loving care it deserves. I respect the seriousness she is giving to seeking professional help for her depression and everything that is connected to it.
I know how hard it is to strip every layer of protection we build against feeling the pain of the reality of our lives. But once we do, we learn of our intrinsic value as a human being. We no longer have to incessantly achieve to be worthy.
I now know that
I am enough
I wish Gracie the feeling of being one with herself at every level and cannot wait to see what she does next in her life. Because she is a true champion.
As am I.
Let's inspire each other by celebrating our true selves and encouraging each other to do so as well. I invite you to make Self Love Self Care First a commited way of life. I promise you, it will change eveything for the better. Not only for you, but also for everyone around you. And that will change the world.
Wishing you a week of honest self reflection,
Be well Do well Live well,
All photograhs of Gracie Gold are courtesy previously published articles on the internet