I have struggled for most of my adult life with borderline depression and probably a little anxiety, too. These things, however, have not existed in real life like I would have imagined they would.
I had previously figured that depression was reserved for people who had SOMETHING to be sad about. And those poor saps wouldn’t be able to get out of bed each morning. They would cry constantly. They would probably resort to maniacal meth usage, would wear all-black and would get swoopy haircuts, but would ultimately not really wash or style their hair much, anyway.
I figured that people who had anxiety would be nervous wrecks 100% of the time, would talk really fast, drink too much coffee, talk incessantly about governmental conspiracy theories, and would be all twitchy and weird.
Most of that stuff is dead wrong. For me, at least. Except, I could get into a pretty decent conversation about conspiracies. Like, what if the government actually secretly sanctioned the initial illegal drug trafficking in the US in order to infiltrate the Black community through unethical back-door methods in an attempt to decimate the community from the inside out, actually unofficially encouraging the Black community to disintegrate, stay uneducated, and foster violence and brain decay over decades of time?
But, after watching a particular Facebook reposted video of about a kabillion of my “friends” recently, I realized something: I better get the fuck over myself.
Having come through a long emotional battle after a date rape well over 15 years ago now, I have had my fair share of difficulties in my weird-ass noggin. I also suffered a miscarriage in 2007, and while I very rarely talk about this at all, I think about it often and it certainly added to my fucked-up headspace.
And, more than I could know, others out there have been through more and have suffered more and have required very serious help working through their mental and emotional issues. I absolutely do not deny that these things are very real, nor do I believe that we can “snap out of” a depression, anxiety, or other problem any more than we could “snap out of” Congestive Heart Failure.
Nevertheless, I cannot deny that I ought to start taking more responsibility for the repeated phrase in my head to stop being “I can’t” and to start being “I’ve GOT this” a little more often.
Remember when you were a kid and you would swing as high as you could and you would hurl your body upward and outward into the sky above the playground and for those few moments of flight, your body (your soul, for that matter) just felt right, and you KNEW you would land safely? I think it is important for more of us to have more of that feeling more often.
Somewhere in adulthood, far too many of us get trapped in a sense of fear. We’ve lived life a whole lot of life. We’ve, let’s say, played baseball for 14 years. And for 13.96 of those years, the sport was fun and challenging and gloriously dirty and was an amazing way to be a part of a team–something larger than just ourselves. But .04 of that time was spent on a bench nursing a really nasty, painful, ugly injury. And, now, every time we run, whether it is toward home plate and a mean-looking, heavily-padded guy wearing sharp cleats, or if it is to catch a Frisbee in the yard with an 8-year old, we feel hesitant. The awareness of that hurt is still there, even though it comparatively represents only a small part of our running experiences of the past.
So, as I sat on my couch last night watching that video, I found myself wondering: “when do I plan to start living?”. I have been sad and tired and worried and afraid in a dull but very persistent sense for years on end now. Should I find out today that I have only a few months left on this planet, wouldn’t I be astronomically pissed that THAT would be how the bulk of my life had been spent?
My screwiness is legit. Mental illness is not a joke. People’s struggles are never anything to sneeze at. But, perhaps we might take a moment to think about whether there is anyway we could start living life in a way that would make us proud to have been US at the end of it all.
And, as a teacher, I feel it necessary to leave you with words of wisdom on this topic that are not my own, but that belong to people far wiser than I…
“EMILY: “Does anyone ever realize life while they live it…every, every minute?”
STAGE MANAGER: “No. Saints and poets maybe…they do some.”
-Thornton Wilder — Our Town
It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.
If you cannot be grateful for what you have received, then be thankful for what you have been spared.