The Shoe Analogy

An analogy written many years ago, and finally shared today.

To walk a mile in an addict’s shoes one would find their heels chafing, their toes cramping inwards; they would find the holes in the soles with no plans of replacement. They would be uncomfortable, and it wouldn’t be rocket science to recognize this. The optimal solution for them would be to merely take of the shoes. They are in poor condition and it can be seen that they do not fit well.

Options begin to appear; one could go back to the old shoes they used to live in, the ones that may be a little uncool to wear but are still wearable with the addition of feeling much better. Another idea would be to purchase a new pair of shoes that will fit one’s new lifestyle and personality change.

The point is, there are options. Always so many options every passing day.

Yet while trying to take off these unsupportive, worn down shoes after years of being casted to their feet, they realize that the lining is a little tight now, or that the laces have tangled themselves and the effort it would take to untangle this combobulation of strings is far more elbow grease than it is worth. Therefore, they just leave the shoes on and move forward with their discomfort rather than struggle through the metamorphosis of their footwear. The struggle of change has been validated.

This is when the addiction becomes real, and it is right in front of their eyes, but the letters are too small to read and the lights are blinding and even though there is an idea of what’s going on, things still are not being understood. How can one know that they are supposed to change if the instructions are not clear? How can one even do so?

To quit a drug- or to move out and on from any addiction, be it depression, obsession, alcoholism, introversion, eating, exercising, sex, whatever the mind attaches itself to- the best path is to seek help, get clean and sober from the addiction, and follow a healthy routine to continuously deter one from stepping back into those old shoes. Who would want to go back to those rugged cleats anyhow? Put them in the back of the closet; repress their existence. Forget about them.

Forget about them when you’re going out for the night with a gal pal or a bromate.

Forget about them when you feel lonely in a crowd of strange faces, or worse; in a herd of familiar ones.

Forget about them when you speak and are unheard; when you are screaming out into the universe, yet nothing responds back.

Forget about them when you are anxious about your future, your decisions and actions that needs to be made. Meanwhile you find yourself worrying that every action and decision you have made up until that point has been wrong. Has it all been wrong? Have you always been wrong? Is it the world that is broken, or is it you who does not fit into it?

Do not envision their style or their memorable feel when you are feeling low and in need of a familiar discomfort.

Forget. About. Them. Try to remember the comfort of the new.

Especially when the new ones are, well different. They are unmarked of damage, they offer great support, and make you feel like you could run a mile in any which direction. They allow one to fantasize about being youthful and full of natural energy. To be innocent like a child again, free of fear and anxiety and the scars that have scratched the fabric and tore the soles; that have hurt your soul. You can do it. We all can.

But under that superficial layer…one cannot forget that these feet are still the same old feet. Bruised, scarred, and permanently damaged. Even though it may not be seen by others, it is still felt inside. It is always felt on the inside too much, and never shown on the outside enough.

So, who are we kidding? Who were you kidding? Sure, one can have on a new pair of shoes that make things appear to be better and brighter, but don’t forget the little details here- the shoes are new, but you are not.

A Note on Mental Health

March 2nd has cordially become mental wellness day this year. Most of the advertising that I’ve seen for this has been pushed towards the teen community, but mental wellness is important in all stages of life. From adolescence to young adults to people in their thirties and beyond, the state of your mental health is always one to be concerned with. Because a mentally unwell adult is just as likely to take action as a teenager is.

This is a topic that I connect very personally with, and depression is something which I have struggled with for as long as I can remember. I have talked to therapists, I have taken the prescription drugs to help, I have smoked pot to drown out my emotions, and I have even spent two weeks in the hospital due to my wavering instability. So yes, this is a topic that I will not joke around about because I understand the struggles people face mentally, and they can be vastly difficult to overcome.

Obviously we all have different experiences in life and react to certain situations in varying ways. I cannot speak on behalf of everybody with depression, nor can I tell you the exact ways each person with mental problems struggles. The human mind is so much more complex than science, research, and studies can make it out to be. My mind does not work the same way that my sister’s does, and hers does not work the same way that our parent’s do. We all think, behave, and act in our own mannerism, so no I will not speak out for everyone who struggles with their emotions, but I will speak on behalf of myself and my challenges, and I am sure there are people out there who can relate to what I say.

In my non-professional opinion, depression is very similar to happiness in the sense that it is a fluctuating mood. Meaning that we will not always be happy in the same sense that we may not constantly be sad. There are some days where I am great, on top of the world, and I feel like nothing can bring me down. Then there are the days where I can hardly pull myself out of bed to face the next sixteen hours.

Depression comes in waves, like a current, and so does happiness. It is not a destination, rather it is a constant battle. There are ways you can suppress the sadness, sure there are, but that does not mean it has gone away. I can go months without shedding a tear, and then one things goes wrong one day and the floodgates are opened and I cannot stop the salty fluid from gushing out. Maybe I will cry until my head hurts and my nose is running and I feel like vomiting. Then I might feel fine again for many days, or weeks, or months. This does not mean that I am healed or cured from my depression. It is still there. It is always there.

On the topic of mental wellness, I find it is most important to remember that just because somebody appears fine on the outside, or someone who has struggled before seems to be doing better, does not always mean that they are. Whether it is depression, anger issues, being bipolar, or whatever else fills the book of mental problems, we all have to remember that it takes constant support to push past these struggles.

Therapy today will not solve all of your problems for the rest of your life. A prescription drug will only carry you so far before your tolerance decides it is no longer enough. One great moment cannot equate for every bad one that has yet to come. Each day is a new opportunity for us to seize or let slip away, and each day those who struggle with their mental wellness have to decide on which they want to do. The answer may seem easy, but for us who struggle with inner demons and past mistakes, it can be a lot harder than a simple “today will be great and I am going to be happy”. Like many things, that is much easier said than done.

So in regards to this mental wellness amongst teens day, be sure to look further than just the youth of your community. Look at your friends, your family members, your coworkers, your significant other, and ask them “How are you today? Is there anything you need to talk about?” A simple question of concern may not always be enough to break through their wall, but it is a start. Sometimes in order to find out what is on the other side, one has to climb that wall not simply destroy it. If you are able to get on the inside of that wall you may be able to better understand what is going on in their mind, and only then you may actually be able to help them get through their issues.

Tomorrow is March 2nd, Mental Wellness day. I encourage you to not only look out for the well-being of others, but also check in on your own mental state. Ask yourself, “How am I doing?” and please do not let it stop there because honestly, everyday should be mental wellness day. We are all in this wagon together, so let’s make the most of it for all of us, not just our loves ones and not just those who are clearly struggling.

For those of you who do struggle, I would like to share this piece of wisdom that I try to live by. Through the tough times it has helped me and I hope that it will help you as well:

Tank you for reading, following, and liking. If you have anything you’d like to share or discuss, please comment below, we’d love to hear what you have to say. Also, check back in tomorrow for a snippet of my own personal wisdom: the Shoe Analogy. Until then, stay strong, be wise, and go ask someone how they are doing dammit. ❤