Wading in the deep end

Wading beside my husband I notice he’s edging further and further from the shore. I follow in eager pursuit. He leaves home every day, he carries very little mental load. He’s successful, hard working, the definition of grit. I want to join him. He’s much taller then me. I decide to match him stride for stride. Then he stops, he turns to shore. But I can’t. I’m screaming at him to help me, I scream at him how I cannot do it all on my own. I’m flailing with red hot anger. I’m cursing the ground he walks on. And effortlessly he walks to shore. He nonchalantly says “just put your feet down, you’re fine”. But I cannot put my feet down. I am not fine. I flail and flail until my body decides it’s had enough. I become buoyant, one with the water. Complacent in the very thing I fought against. Nothing matters. It’s all good. I cannot move from this spot. I cannot stop my mind from racing to resentment. I cannot get back to shore. But I do not care. So my husband drags me in again, with the rope that’s carefully tied to my feet for moments like this. We speak nothing of it. We go home. The day is done.
The next day I see my best friend. I come to her seeking refuge. From the weight that’s hanging over me from yesterday. My mind won’t stop hashing it over and over. She’s got 4 kids, an ex husband and a new husband. She’ll understand it. She’ll see that something is aloof and she’ll set me straight. She starts talking about her new husband. She starts really giving me the gears about how awful he is, lazy and under appreciative. I sigh a sense of relief. Misery loves company, I decide now is the time to finally let go of the weight from yesterday. I pour my heart out. She won’t tell me to put my feet down, she’ll be empathetic and understand the water is over my head. I let it all out. I dump out my deepest worry. This is the person who loves me and has stood by me always. Surely she’ll understand and we can move forward. She says “you’re so negative, I’m going to have to smudge this place when you leave. You’re clumsy and bad joo joo”. Then she laughs it off and continues talking about her self. Oblivious to the fact that she’s walking the talk she just set me ablaze for. I tell her I have to go. I walk out. Ready go home. But the words racing in my head become spewing hurricanes of how terrible I am, how stupid I was to think someone would actually agree with me. How crazy I am. Maybe I have lost my mind.
My husband takes me back to the water. Hell bent on living our normal life. Not phased by the protest in my voice. The hesitation. The bags I have packed and ready to run. Except today is different. I wade a little further and it becomes harder for him to pull me to shore because of the weight I carry from the conversation from the previous day. My head becomes a swirling whirlpool. Yet I still become stagnant with exhaustion. I’m buoyant but I’m weighted. Before my weight finally anchors the wind sweeps me further from shore.
And in and out and in and out. Day over and over again we do this. Toxic people, worried mind, well meaning family, deep water, stronger wind, more weight. Fraying lines that connect me to reality. The voice that confidently boomed for help becomes silent. Everything hurts. So tired. So worried. So careless, so over thinking. Over. And over. And over.
Until one day, so far away from shore now that blowing away has become “normal”. A boat sails by. Aboard is the images of the things that matter most. You see, I’ve never wanted to drown, I just wanted to be far enough from shore that my family would stop seeking me to rescue. But seeing this boat makes me realize I’m not the only one who is suffering there’s so much left at the picnic that I need to be a part of. In a hoarse voice, a frail spirit I say. “Enough”
Of course saying enough isn’t enough. I’ve carried this weight for a while. I ask the man on the boat for help. He carefully cuts the weighted words that keep me docked so far from shore. I can feel my mind start to shift. It’s still racing, but without the weight there is less worry that I might completely drown. Without the careless mind I realize I’ve known how to swim all along. The same as time took me away from shore I know it’ll take time to swim back in but slowly I make my way there. Some days I feel as if perhaps I’m always going to be treading water, I can see the shore but can’t quite reach.
I continue to cut the ties that tear the line connecting me to those who love me most. I ditch the toxic friends, I fuel my body with all the proper foods. I prioritize sleep. Instead of getting lost in my head I search and yearn for positive health. I’ve even begun holding my husbands hand at the waters edge. I no longer feel the heavy chains that used to surround me and squeeze out all my air. I no longer fear the disorganization. I have strategies to help me when I feel as if the water is just too deep. But everything that got me here has made a mess of everything that came before. Some days the mess sends me far from shore, some days the mess doesn’t matter. I’m focused. I’m working through the quick sand. Until one day the sand is like flakes of the dessert and I realize I really feel like me. Really, really feel like me. I find joy in joyous moments again. I feel thankful, appreciative. My heart has grown by 5 sizes. I’ve over come the storm, the darkness, the turning tide, the tsunami.
I’ve over overcome. Does this mean I’ll never face the storm again. No, but I’ve got tools and tricks and all the right people who will pull me to shore.
In 2015, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. My daughter was almost 2 years old and I had been suffering for much of those two years. I pulled myself further and further away from my family. Never did I feel I wanted to die but I wanted to be far enough away I would no longer be a burden. I was angry, easily agitated. Exhausted. Worried about everything but not caring about anything. It was a chore to get out of bed, to eat. To function. I did not seek help. I did not understand why I always felt the way I did. I was too scared to admit that I was failing because I didn’t want to lose my daughter. I didn’t know what would happen to me if I admitted that I was not perfect. Until one clear day, my mind worked well enough to realize that I was really missing out on so much. I made an appointment with my doctor and I finally said “This dark cloud is bigger then me, and I’m ready to dance in the rain”. I was put on a low dose of an anti anxiety medication. Sent a referral to mental health and started walking forward. Dancing my way out of the storm. I’ve seen naturopaths, to help with things that were out of balance that could be contributing. I go to a chiropractor,for acupuncture and a massage therapist on a regular basis. They’re all huge things that make a difference in my overall well being. If you’re reading this and thinking my husband sounds awful, please don’t. My husband only ever wanted what was best for me. He stood beside me and stands beside me every day. He may not have known how to fix it for me. He knew me well enough to know I’m headstrong and fiercely independent saying anything wouldn’t have been any help. And I’m sure he probably did try to tell me, I probably was not ready to listen. As hard as those two years were for me, I’m sure they were just as hard for him. It’s been a journey. I really hope everyone finds someone to love them when they’re at their lowest darkest moment like the people I’ve been blessed to have and keep in my circle. The best part of the storm? It blew away all friends who were toxic and selfish and not really friends at all. Life has been so much better.
In the last 3 years as I’ve been overcoming and finding wellness there’s been really good days and really crappy days. There’s been a lot of days where I’ve dealt with acceptance of the change in who I am. Gone is the crazy, outgoing, up for Anything girl. It was hard but I was sure the person in pictures of the past would always remain unrecognizable to me. But, she’s not anymore. I’ve found something I’m passionate about and mixed it with my previous career to start a fire of excitement and happiness within my soul. Running my own business teaching and working with children I have fun every day love learning more and more. I’ve allowed myself grace and time. I finally can look at pictures and say that girl is me!
Mental illness does not discriminate. It is not something that can be paid off or bought away. It catches you in its grip and it tosses you out for the sharks. It doesn’t mean you’ll never be the person you once were. It just means you may be a different version. I’ve been wide open about my struggles since I started walking toward wellness. I’ll continue to get up on my soap box and preach. Let’s not shy away from the messy conversations that are hard and heavy. Let’s talk.

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