In life we will experience highs and lows. If we constantly stay on the lookout for the lows, wondering when the next one is going to be, we will miss out on a lot of the joy that comes during the high points of our lives. Balance. It’s about finding the right balance to live joyfully through the good times, and put plans in place to help us manage as best we can through the difficult times.
The first time I found myself struggling, with what I would later be clinically labelled as depression, I was more confused than I ever had been. Nothing was wrong, as far as I could tell anyway. Nothing was wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on a reason for feeling empty, unmotivated, worthless, and incapable of doing anything to make myself feel differently.
I couldn’t see even the shortest distance through this intense fog of pain. Every time I tried to motivate my thinking in different directions, my mind would slam me back down deeper into the darkness.
Where was the darkness coming from? What could I do about? How could I beat it?
These are questions I’m still working out the answers to. I might be for the rest of my life, but every day I a have more of the picture.
Back then I didn’t have any reference points of what to do. I didn’t know how to allow myself to feel the emotions I was feeling, even without an identifiable reason, and know this is ok. I didn’t have it in mind that spending a day in bed, watching enjoyable TV shows – while still eating enough food and drinking enough water – was a legitimate choice to rest. I thought something was wrong with how I was inhabiting the world and that I had to try and figure it out on my own. (I still do this, more often than I would like.) I didn’t have regular rhythms of prayer to help me lay whatever was troubling me down, even if I didn’t know what it was.
I’ve learned a lot in the time between then and now. The biggest thing I’ve learned, and re-learned, is to try and let go. To try not to be angry with myself when I don’t understand what is going on. Sometimes it’s about making the darkness in the depths of that hole bearable. Add a TV, keep snacks nearby, and let others spend time there with me, even though for them my darkness might simply look like “Tuesday.”
People are quick to say reach out if you’re struggling. It’s good advice. But, I know this will be the hardest thing to do within that darkness, and my mind will try to convince me it’s a mistake to reach out. We need to try not to listen to that lie. There is more information around now than even just fifteen years ago when I first find myself in some of my deepest darkness. If it is difficult to reach out, even when you know what or who you are reaching out towards, take a few deep breaths. When someone you trust reaches in to support you, hold onto this hope, even if you can’t quite say yes at that moment.
Know you are worthy of time. You are worthy.
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What are some of the helpful things you reach for when you’re having a rough time?
Who are the people you know would sit with you, and just breathe in the silence?
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Some days are tougher than others, sometimes for reasons we won’t know. On a day when you’re feeling up to it, think about which people you feel at peace being near. Then on days when you’re not feeling so good, you’ll have a starting point.
Keep on keeping on being awesome. Because you are.