Yesterday afternoon we went for a hike up to Blueberry Lake. The trail wound it’s way through thick Aspen groves with lush ground cover. It was a 1,300 foot elevation gain within the course of a mile, mile and a half, so it was pretty intense. While hiking I kept asking myself, why the heck am I doing this? There is an interesting balance of willful surrender and fighting barriers when hiking. Surrendering to the pain, the discomfort, the difficulty. And fighting the mind and the overwhelming desire to give up, just quit.
I’ve had my first little hiccup on the road. I found a place to order my medication online, the only problem is, it is taking much longer than I expected to receive my order. So I decided to ration my meds until they arrive and take only one pill at night instead of the regular two. I thought, I’m in my happy place, I’m exercising daily and eating great, this should be no problem. Boy was I wrong.
The night that I cut my dosage I barely slept at all. My brain has been so quiet lately that I forgot how loud it can get. I felt like there were four marching bands all playing different songs in a very confined space with the brass bouncing off the walls. I was restless, anxious and wide awake, then I got anxious about being wide awake which woke me up even more. In my head I had conversations with long lost friends and arguments with with past offenders. An endlessly looping movie reel of embarrassing situations, broken hearts and angry words. I couldn’t shut it off.
I ended up falling asleep in the wee small hours of the morning and woke up heavy and uneasy. I felt such pressure on my head and a weight on my shoulders. Andrew was sweet and kept trying to pull me out of it with funny accents and jokes, but I couldn’t shake off the darkness. I was a hot mess, yall. And that’s just from one day! One day of cutting my meds.
It was completely defeating that I am that dependent on a little pill. I’ve been literally climbing mountains and strengthening my will but I can’t handle one day with out popping a pill. I felt weak and frustrated.
I give specifics about my struggle because I know there are others dealing with the same issues. At times it is a battle, a ruthless fight for mental health. No matter how ideal your living circumstances, how plush your bank account, how skinny you are, I feel everyone deals with imbalance on some level.
I find that often times it’s easier for me to just drink my wine and watch Seinfeld rather than deal with what I’m feeling. To confront depression, mania, discontent, anxiety is a choice. A hard choice. It’s a surrender and a fight. Surrendering to the ugly feelings and overwhelming emotions. It’s a battle of the will to keep slogging through.
I had a good friend once say that dealing with mental health issues is a physical battle. To get up and make coffee is exhausting. To make a phone call is overwhelming. To go get groceries takes you out for the rest of the day. It is a physical weight, a pressure on the chest. I could’t put it better myself.
I talked to three members of my family yesterday and each intentionally asked, “How are you doing?” And I knew that they wanted the real answer. Before I could even catch myself, I said, “Great!! I’m doing awesome.” I realized after, that to even talk about my struggles would have been exhausting. It’s so much easier to just float by and not go deep. I also felt kinda guilty. Here I am living my dream on the road and I’m still struggling.
You know, I really thought for a fleeting moment that I would be ok. That I’ve worked so hard through my stuff that it might not be an issue anymore. That was also defeating. Remembering that this will be a lifelong battle. No matter where I live, no matter how secure I feel, it will be a battle to stay balanced.
I got this blister on my left heel and every time I step I can feel a little pain. A little nagging, sharp pain. Is it debilitating? No, it’s just a little reminder of discomfort every time I step. These past couple of days have been a reminder, an uncomfortable reminder that I can’t do this alone. I need help, I need support from loved ones, I need rest and above all I need medicine. It is not a shameful thing to take meds, then why do I feel so much… less than? Less capable, less strong, and here’s the kicker, less self-sufficient.
I’ve been reading the Psalms every day and man, does that King David get down!! “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” (Psalm 42:5) He was always fighting stress and real battles, physical and mental. I’m always comforted reading them because I’m reminded of the fact that God doesn’t mind our downcast hearts and anxious minds. He is a refuge. I can come to him, mess and all. I don’t have to cover things up or put on a show. I don’t have to float through and not go deep. I can be broken before Him. And He’s there.
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.” (Psalm 40: 1,2)
So when you struggle, when you’re having one of those day, when you feel discouraged and less than, know that there is One who is ever present. He is the Prince of Peace, He will restore your joy. He will fight your battles, He is your salvation. Just surrender and keep moving forward.