On Achieving Your Way Out Of Trauma

“You can’t achieve your way out of trauma.”

I saw this tweet a few weeks ago, and it’s been on my mind ever since. Mental illness can make it hard to get out of bed, or wash dishes, or take a shower. I’ve been there. But it’s often the opposite for me: I become more productive than ever.

I used to view this as a superpower. Mental illness served me well because it made me successful. I excelled in college, mainly because I packed my schedule to the point I barely had time to sit down for a meal. After my miscarriage, I worked 12-hour days because the grief would consume me otherwise. Distracting myself from processing my emotions is my coping mechanism.

It’s unsustainable for obvious reasons, but there’s another unfortunate side effect: When I allow myself to slow down, it feels unnatural. Working around the clock yields results, and it stops me from having to think. A day at home unplugged does not.

I’m working through it and trying to place less value on my productivity. Having healthy relationships, getting enough sleep, not being glued to my phone — these things all give me more than my busyness ever could. After all, you can’t achieve your way out of trauma.

This is a repost of a newsletter from earlier this year — I hope you enjoyed the read!

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