LOVE / by Shaun Ventulan

It's been a while. I've been meaning to write to you, but life happened. I've been too busy getting the most of what life has to offer. I am living. I am loving. I am happier. I am healthier. 

For those who live vicariously through my curated social media account, my life looks stellar. Anxiety and depression has ruled my life for the past two years. It's either a constant bombardment of irrational fears, a cringe worthy statement I made on a random Thursday years ago, or the feeling of emptiness - this is what goes on my mind. This is what anxiety and depression is - the feeling of constant fear or the feeling of nothingness. I'm not sure which one is worse, but this is something that I will have to live with for the rest of my life. And no, depression doesn't mean I no longer want to live, but a sigh that I have to get on with things. There are times where leaving my room feels like the impossible. Having high functioning anxiety also means that I may look calm and collected, yet my body is ready for fight-or-flight. Death seems imminent sometimes when my anxiety reaches eleven - a scratch can be interpreted as MRSA, an ache could be some sort of myeloma, or a headache can be equated to glioma. Behind some of my laughs and smiles is unease. 

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The thing is, life will never get better if I do nothing to quell my feelings, or the lack of. So I lived. I lived life and faced my fears. I found a hobby that has brought peace to chaos. As paradoxical as it may sound, I fell in love with climbing, despite my intense fear of heights. I find tranquility in the difficulty that climbing has to offer. When my hands become too sore to climb, I am near the ocean to enjoy the cool breeze  - nature is always free. And that's what I did to take care of myself. I loved myself, and focused on what makes me happy. I put myself before others, and stopped caring about things beyond my control, i.e. politics. I got rid of what's toxic and focused on personal growth. I may not have a lot of friends, but I am beyond satisfied knowing that I am fortunate enough to have a really tight circle of friends. Quality over quantity. I know that with my friends now, we are headed for success. 

Life will not always be rad, but it won't always be sad either. Just like the ocean, life comes in waves, and we just need to keep surfing. When life knocks you down, you get up. When you can't get a certain climbing route, you take a step back, breathe, and do it a different way. Life is all about that - trial and error. A life without risks, mistakes, and sadness is a life not lived. Life is just as good as you make it to be. And for myself, I make the best out of it. Self-care is self-love. Do what makes you happy. Always love yourself.

Your friend, 

Shaun Ventulan