Scream or Cry for Help: Existential Crisis, Confronting Past Trauma, and Embracing My New Reality.
It’s been about 19 months since I last wrote. Wow! Time really does fly.
A whole lot has transpired in that time but that is not the main reason why I’m writing this. Alright, maybe a little bit because of the interconnectivity of things on planet earth. So, I’ll catch you up to speed, try to connect the dots, and see where the proverbial pen takes us.
Great! Let’s do this.
So, a few days ago I felt very overwhelmed by my existence. Existential crisis? Hmmm. I suppose so.
Over the years, whenever this happens, I feel a strong urge to disconnect — no phone calls and/or a prolonged break from social media and it’s usually helped after doing so for about two to three months. This time, I had the urge to get rid of most of my stuff in addition to disconnecting from society. So, while crying and listening to Jon Bellion’s ‘Stupid Deep’ (J’adore!)on replay for almost two hours, I organized my clothes into piles and got rid of about 70 percent of them. I felt slightly better. Temporarily.
I then decided to think introspectively about the root cause of this recent bout of depression and I came to the realization that I was most likely feeling overwhelmed because I work two full-time jobs and have poor health which seems to get worse just when I think I’m recovering not to mention the added pressure to add pretty things to my Instagram saved lists. To give some context, I am saving for a not-so-leisure trip and to get a phone that was released a year and a half ago while working two remote jobs to meet my savings goals. I still couldn’t see the end of the tunnel with my growing ‘Things to buy’ list on IG obscuring my vision.
Why do I need to work two full-time jobs as a Product Manager?
Well, in an unexpected turn of events, I was laid off my previous job in March 2019, a month later, I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease and Graves’ Ophthalmopathy. In January 2020, after being literally crippled by pain for months, I was finally diagnosed with Depression, Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, and Hypermobility at 27 years old. It turns out that all these were triggered by stress and trauma. On reading more about these illnesses and experiences of people with similar conditions on The Mighty app (Thank God for this app), I deduced that sooner or later I’d have to come to terms with my new reality- bulging/starey eyes, chronic pain, and fatigue amongst other things.
I thought to myself that I’d need to have a job where I could work from home all or most of the time, a job that blends everything I have come to love into one — business, design, and tech. A friend and former colleague suggested a course in Product Management since we’d worked on a number of side projects where I’d taken up a PM role without even realizing such a role existed. I took courses on Product Management and got an Associate PM role from a random tweet I posted on Twitter.
I decided to double down on my practical knowledge as Product Manager while supplementing my income, thus, I took on a second full-time PM role at a startup. I also took an interest in UI/UX design and I’m loving it thus far.
Back to Introspection… days ago
Anyway, for quite some time I had a lot of resentment for losing my job the way that I did, falling ill at the peak of the stress at work and my inability to do the simple things I used to be able to do like walking for hours on end or combing my hair without feeling so much pain or jumping rope without dislocating my ankle from brittle bones. Ugh!
It only just dawned on me that though the stress may have been brought on by one significant event, the effect was trebled most likely because I was in fact going through more than one thing at the same time; uncertainty about my future at my workplace, the worst patch thus far in the game my parents play called marriage which led to my Father “disowning” me because I stood up for my mother and PTSD from an incident where I was robbed at gunpoint.
After over a year, with resentment gone, I could finally see that I internalized all these incidents; the trauma, and the negative emotions that stemmed from them. I tried to act tough and be strong when I heard my car windows shatter into a million pieces from a supposed concoction of saliva and salt that the robbers had made. I tried to act tough when for the fourth time in my life, I was staring down the barrel of a local, crudely-made gun with nowhere to turn because I was stuck in Lagos traffic. I acted tough when I came home to narrate the story and I was laughed at, “Welcome to Lagos”, they said. I acted unfazed in all these scenarios and it took one last straw for my body to scream, “ENOUGH!”. It took one domino falling for the perfect facade to crumble with ripple effects that could last well into my old age.
Onward: Looking to the Future
I have decided that if ads on IG and Twitter trigger anxiety for me albeit economic anxiety, mental anxiety…whatever it is, then I’d just have to live without them as long as I gain some sanity and peace of mind. I would also like to live a minimalist lifestyle because I believe it’d take some pressure off of me and help me heal my trauma. I’m starting to read up on minimalism and must say, I think I may have unconsciously begun my journey a few months ago. Regardless, I still have a long way to go and I’m fine with that.
I’m also still thinking about ways that I can be better, create more, consume less, and have a sense of freedom. I am aware that it’s a journey of learning, healing, and unlearning and I appreciate that I’m a work in progress. Most importantly, I appreciate that I’m becoming more self-aware and in touch with myself to observe patterns, recognize trauma, be open-minded, flexible, and honest with myself to know what’s best for me and pivot in the right direction according to my current experiences.
Career-wise, I believe I’m finally on the right path; fulfilling my purpose despite the fact that it took a series of unfortunate events to get here. I’m still grateful to the universe.
PS: I’ll keep you updated on my journey as a minimalist but two things I know for certain are that I definitely wouldn’t apply minimalism to my UI designs because I love bright colors and patterns too much. Secondly, I doubt I’ll subscribe to mainstream minimalist aesthetics of monotone neutrals without the pizzazz that colors bring. Colors are the canvas on which I portray my personality. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m quite EXTRA! :)