So I made a decision that this whole “posting only on Tuesday night” thing is for the birds. If you read last night’s post, I declared it there first.
Also, I decided that as much as I wanted this to be a place for all of you, it needs to be a place for me first, more importantly. I need that, that is why I am so thankful for you guys giving me the space to do this.
I have come a long way on this journey in the PNW thus far and I’ve learned a lot in this short amount of time … about life, about sacrifice, about pain, about happiness, and about love. Not that romanticized version of love where it feels like the rolling tides washing over you and consuming you in warmth and rainbows and beauty, although there has been blips of something close to that some places along the way too, but really a love that is stripped away of every expectation we have ever been taught to have about what love is supposed to be, what it’s supposed to look like. The love we aren’t taught feels raw, like the pelting rain stinging your cold, damp flesh and the joy in these moments because they makes you feel more alive, and more present to the earth we live on.
Two days ago was Mental Health Awareness Day and ironically enough I spoke to a therapist on the phone trying to get a referral for another therapist. For the first time in awhile, I just wanted to admit to someone that I’m not as okay as the exterior I am carrying and when I finally took a step back and realized what day it was. I felt relieved, like there was a whole damn army behind me saying, “It’s okay, you are not broken. We’ve got your back.” And in the smallest moments inside this struggle, that kinda hope feels like magic. I truly encourage anyone who is struggling to take the steps to ask for help, it’s liberating and rewarding to feel like atleast you’re making a decision to move into something else rather than standing stagnant in the pain you’re in. As long as you keep choosing motion, progress is inevitable.
Sometimes the world feels so loud it’s deafeningly overwhelming. Sometimes it feels like chaos, like everything is hopelessly falling apart. Sometimes it feels like I want to stay in bed, under my covers til it passes and I feel stable and sane again. Sometimes it feels like irritability, like you want to punch everyone you see in the face. Sometimes it feels like I’m going to be sick. And no matter which of those or all of those I’m feeling, it always feels like I’ve had way too much caffeine all the time to the point where you can see sounds and hear colors. It’s an intensity unlike anything that I can honestly put into words but that is my effort in trying.
I once saw a mother pleading with her child on tv to stop crying. She was crying too out of exhaustion, frustration, sadness and hopelessness. I saw this and felt, “Wow, that is something I can relate to.” And I don’t have children, anxiety is my child. I’ve pleaded with it to give me some relief, to find some clarity in the chaotic, drowning mess that is my mind. To allow me to think of one thought at a time. To get something done. To the point of tears. PLEASE.
Where is my light then? How, when you live a life riddled with experiences like that do you find any light, any hope?
It is in my tribe. My people that show me a love so present, resilient, and true that my mind can’t possibly stay consumed in it’s own terror. It’s the resilient love in the rain, that will strip it away.
It is in my faith. That universal energy element that you can not see but choose to believe in anyway. How can you not when this world faces absolute horror and yet LOVE bears it’s relentless face through it all in the form of heroes that look like strangers to one another.
It is in my will. The voice inside me so stubborn to say, “We have not come this far to let the fear win now.” As Elizabeth Gilbert wrote, (again, my paraphrasing is awful but it goes something like this… Liz please forgive me) -Fear has to come in every bold, beautiful, daring and creative thing you choose to do with this life. It has to come on the journey with you and creativity, like it’s a car ride you opt into, but it is only allowed to sit quietly in the back seat. It is allowed no other luxuries, not direction advice, not radio station suggestions, not temperature control whining…. nothing. But it must come.-
I decided that this was an essential component to succeeding with my anxiety. It was going to come always, but every single time I feel her piping up in the backseat about where ever it is creativity and I are going… I do two things (or try to the best of my ability) first, I know I’m probably onto something. “Fear and anxiety are trying to keep you small Cait. Small and safe. I promise you won’t die so keep going. I promise. Live louder than this fear.” And then I promptly pull a u-turn (at a u-turn permitted light/area) and I say as politely as I can muster because good old fear and anxiety do play a vital role in my journey and I wouldn’t want to upset the balance we are trying to create, “Excuse me, we had an agreement. I’m still upholding my end by acknowledging your importance in this journey. You keep me present and fighting, and I thank you for that. But we agreed that you are not going to make the rules here. So please remain quiet as we navigate this trip and I promise the journey we all create is going to be worth all our while.”
So what I’m saying is this, if you struggle with anxiety or depression or any other mental struggle. First I suggest, go talk to someone, why? Because just as there are only a handful of us born with prolific skills in math or baseball or quantum physics or playing the piano, most of us have to learn the traditional way. It doesn’t make any of us less valuable or worthy or whole because how we acquired the skills to be great, to be better. No one says “Oh well that grand pianist isn’t as talented as that other one because when they were each four this one knew how to play a scale before this one,” or no one ever says someone is better at walking than someone else because she learned when she was 10 months and he learned when he was one. It’s silly. So go talk to someone because at the ripe old age of whatever you are, we are all still learning and there is no judgement or comparison or lack of worth in that.
Secondly I would suggest, if it moves you, to set up a dialogue with your fear. Literally. I mean actually talk to it. Assert your power and put it into the universe with your words. Physically mold that anxious energy and make it your bitch and tell it what’s up.
Third, be vulnerable. I know what you’re thinking. But I also know that’s the fear and anxiety talking. Shut it down. Find your people, open up, and you’ll be surprised how many reach out their hands and say “Me too!” Funny thing about taboo topics like Mental Health, you have more people than you think if you just get outside the fear.
And lastly. Never question (or try very hard not to) your value, your worth, your stability, your sanity levels. Human resilience is the most moving and powerful thing I believe in the whole world. We are hardwired to survive, believe in yourself and that power. Your mind is what you feed it. Feed it stubborn, relentless faith and I promise day by day you will feel like you’re winning more often.
Always remember you are not alone. Never alone and we are certainly all better together.