Last Thursday, outside of my normal Wednesday posting schedule, I wrote a post I had not expected to write (Everybody wants to save the world, and I am no exception). In it, I laid out the reason I write and publish this blog; mental wellness requires more than a pretty band-aid. I am an optimist, playing an active role in my own mental wellness, and also someone who has regular sojourns into areas of mental illness. As such, I understand that there is a very fine line to walk between encouraging a person to look for the positives in life, and invalidating the severity of depression and anxiety.
I write because I want to be a voice of hope coming from someone who knows from experience that even if you don’t win all the battles you win some. Life is pretty good even when you are unable to see it. You can learn to see it more often, you can learn to remember it when you can’t see it, and you can learn to cling to hope long enough for your vision to clear.
My reach right now is incredibly small. I don’t know if I’m reaching the people who need to hear what I have to say, the way I have to say it. Asking for help is extremely hard for me, especially in situations when I fear it calls my value into question. Nevertheless, I asked.
Making yourself vulnerable is difficult. Making yourself vulnerable when your own inner voice is trying to crush you is terrifying. I don’t know what my irrational mind was expecting as a result of that post, but whatever it was, it didn’t happen.
I was on shaky ground before I posted, and I was shattered afterward. I plummeted into a state of depression I haven’t seen in a long time. I felt worthless. I felt as though what I have been working for with my writing must be worthless as well. Finally, I felt apathy. Saturday came and it was time for me to post the image I had prepared ahead for my social media accounts.
The irony of the whole situation was not lost on me. I thought long and hard before I hit the button that sent those words out into cyberspace. Either I believed what I was saying or I was a hypocrite. Sunk in that apathetic space, I didn’t know and didn’t care. Some tiny portion of my true self, the part that wasn’t dominated by my self-critic, spoke up. “Hit send. Someone needs this message. You need this message.” I hit send.
If this were a fairy tale, I would have had immediate and irrefutable proof that my work matters. The sun would have broken out from behind the clouds, my family would all have gathered around me for a nice, homey meal. We would have smiled at one another and joined in song about how wonderful life is. Too much? Well it doesn’t matter, because life is not a fairy tale.
The rest of Saturday was going through the motions of my life. Yet, that tiny voice was not to be silenced. “You may be going through the motions, but sometimes that’s HUGE,” it said. “There have been days when you were not even able to go through the motions. You are succeeding today.”
By Sunday, I had had two nights in a row where I had slept literally over eleven hours apiece. I was rested enough to be able to think about my situation a little more clearly; clearly enough to see that I was completely overwhelmed with all that I have been doing. I have been trying to Do All The Things, Right Now.
The truth is, sometimes you are in a place in your life where you really do have to do more than you feel like you can handle. In my case, I need to figure out a balance and remind myself that I don’t have to have everything done instantaneously, nor do I have to do everything perfectly.
The best way to succeed in life is to act on the advice we give to others.
Once I was out of my personal tar pit, I was able to take note of (and take action on) many of the things I have already written about.
- Take control of what you can control.
- Good enough is an illusion.
- The moment you focus on something good about yourself is the moment you are building your best self.
- Perfection is a dream-killer.
- Ask yourself, “How is this serving me?”
- You don’t have to know the why of it all to make a difference in life. You make a difference.
I’m still not ready to break into three-part harmony with my fam (which is good, because I am unlikely to find two other willing participants), but I’m back on my feet. When you find yourself in YOUR personal tar pit, grab a hold of something solid to keep you from sinking deeper. A friend, a crisis line, a long bath, a serious night’s sleep, routine — whatever works for you — then start moving forward again.
“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tiptoe if you must, but take a step.”Naeem Callaway
No matter how dark it feels, the sun will return.
Brightest blessings, Sunny
Let’s keep in touch!