Sometimes, you should have seen it coming.
The events in life that are just giant piles of “omg wtf”.
It knocks the wind out of you, emotionally and physically.
At first you think, “How can this be happening?” Then, when you’ve had the chance to find the parts of your mind that fell apart, you can look back and just see how it could be. “Of course,” you say to yourself.
It doesn’t change the fact that your mind felt like it was going to break, or that your heart was going to fall from its precious shelf in your chest…Now you have to start over. Get yourself back to the normalcy that you know.
I hate that. The starting over. It takes so long to climb out of that well of self-doubt and depression. I revel in the moments where I’m not anxious about something because those moments are like sugar in my mouth…until I bite down on a grain of sand suddenly.
And here again, out of this endless, dark chasm I climb.
I grew up in a Christian household. It was church not only on Sundays, but Wednesday and Friday nights as well.
I believed with a fervent passion that comes with being sheltered from everything but church. Everything would be fine as long as God and I were square.
My mother’s philosophy was impressed upon me from early on: If you are sad, pray. If you are angry, pray. If you are happy, give thanks in prayer. Everything in life was a direct reflection of the quality of my relationship with God.
I was told God brings joy, so I told myself I was joyful. God heals, I convinced myself I could heal my deep sadness by prayer.
If I was still sad, I wasn’t praying enough.
Fast forward to now and I am no longer a Christian. I look back and want so badly to tell that lost teenage girl what’s really going on.
It’s not from a lack of disciplined and passionate prayer that I was sad and down so often. I didn’t fail as a Christian.
In reality, Christianity failed me.
It’s discouraging to know that there are those out there that believe the solution to their mental illness could be solved by a simple belief, and that they aren’t serious enough…or that a divine being would allow them to feel this way.
My hope is someone like me, reads this and can understand a little more about their mental health…& that they can find some help outside of the restrictions of a religious belief.
Mental health is a real thing.
And there are real treatments.
One con about my taking an SNRI is I feel less creative.
I spend my free time painting, weaving, and stitching but I feel less inspired to do so lately. It’s especially tough because when winter comes, the rainy days make me want to be creative and well, it’s pretty much winter now in the Pacific Northwest.
I started a painting recently and lately it’s been at a standstill in my dining room, slowly gathering the dust of my rusted imagination. I want so badly to continue but I just don’t have it in me.
I’m kind of numb.
But I’m not in a depressive state.
Maybe it’s a trade I’ll have to be grateful for because I can at least be a functional human in society and not a couch cushion.
Maybe it’s also harder living in a place that demands you live out your passion. The wildness calls to the mind and soul to wake up and be in it…do the thing you were meant to.
Anyone who knows my dog, Kona, would laugh if I ever told them she was a therapy dog. She is fiercely protective, and only trusts a select few humans and dogs. She’s not your friendly, neighborhood pet. She growls at the mailman and the cats in the neighborhood know to steer clear of our house. That’s Kona.
Kona was rescued by my husband 6 years ago, and then 4 years later I would join their little pack. I have loved dogs my whole life but I was nervous to meet her…I wanted her to love me. It took a while, but finally I won her trust and it was one of the best things that has happened.
Kona encourages me to live in the moment and to appreciate the every day, which is so difficult to do. The days where I’m under my shadow, she curls up next to me and sighs deeply, and I can’t help but feel this warmth in my soul. When I run my hands over her fur, I’m engaging in the best form of therapy life can offer.
I don’t know how it works, but I know that my love for Kona, and her affection towards me helps keep me grounded and balanced.
I think “dog people” can understand the indescribable connection we have with our dogs.
She’s my soulmate. A conduit to help express my emotions and a strong source of positive energy. I need her a hell of a lot more than she’ll ever need me.
Dog Medicine by Julie Barton is a book I just finished reading that talks about this very relationship. It’s amazing.
When it comes to depression, it’s typically the same manifestations: No energy, the desire to do nothing but sleep, and trying to tear myself away from the world.
Anxiety, however, presents itself within so many characters. One in particular is my fear of happiness.
What I mean is, I’m not afraid to be happy. I’m fearful that if I am happy, something bad HAS to happen, simply because nothing can be perfect.
I have a very good life now, and I recently thought to myself, “I have nothing to complain about…” and immediately after I started to feel that fuzziness, the static in my chest. The feeling that something bad is about to happen and the darkness that makes you so sure.
This particular anxiety, that something has to be wrong for all to be okay, has existed since I was a teenager. My parent’s divorce, followed by a tumultuous relationship with my mother and father, set into motion what will become a pattern of expecting things to be broken.
I hope it is something that in time will dissipate but meanwhile I will be consistently trying to tell myself it’s okay to be happy.
It’s okay to be happy.
I took this quick photo on my way in to work today.
I’ve always felt as if mentally I belonged in this dreary, grey weather. It’s easier to exist as I am here.
The sunny days bring such demands with it. “Go outside! Enjoy yourself!” it says.
Here, though…I can be completely myself.
A lot of times when I try to describe my depression (I emphasize mine because another’s case doesn’t necessarily manifest the same) I struggle. “How can I explain something I don’t even fully understand?” I question myself. Well I try the best I can…all the while thankful for my active imagination.
I call it (dun-dun-dunnn!): The Shadow.
Those days where everything on the outside is fine and my life looks fine and the customer service people are even being nice, I feel it. It’s connected to me and I can’t step or run away. I can laugh and enjoy myself, but in the pause of a breath, it’s in my field of vision again..reminding me.
The only time I don’t feel it is when I can’t feel anything…The Shadow has finally caught up and enveloped me. It’s wet and heavy and I’m a sinking boat beneath it. These are the days that I exist as a part of the couch. I become a fixture, an almost inanimate object in my own life.
The dark and oily Shadow is more familiar to me than the sound of my own name, yet I resent its presence and the effect it has on me.
I like to imagine my daily little pill dressed up like a medicinal Mr. Spock…guarding my brain’s rusty-hinged door with a straight face and serious determination.
It was the morning of the first day of third grade at Seoul American Elementary School (a DOD school in South Korea). I had on my favorite shirt and new shoes. I was ready. I clutched the straps of my backpack and headed excitedly to school. I couldn’t wait to see my friends after the summer and I got off of the bus and made my way to my classroom.
The closer I got, however, the more I started to doubt myself. With every step, this paralyzing fear started to encroach upon the edges of my mind that by the time I was standing outside of the classroom, there was no way I was going inside. My back pressed hard against the brick wall of the schoolhouse. I closed my eyes and prayed that I would just meld with it; become invisible.
The teacher finally noticed a little girl attached to her classroom door as she tried to close it after the bell rang. After quite a lot of coaxing, I finally slid into my assigned seat, defeated and embarrassed.
That’s the earliest memory I have of dealing with anxiety. It would be a very long time before I could identify what exactly happened and why.
I am many years older now, but I can still relate to that girl trapped in her own mind, unable to move. In many ways I haven’t changed at all.