There has been a gentle mist falling over the last three days. The greyish white cast of the sky has blotted out any trace of sunshine and the days feel damp and dreary. This is the kind of weather that leaves you feeling unsettled as the ache creeps into your bones. Admittedly, I am in a mostly dim mood. I have been sitting here with a half-sipped cup of tea and contemplating my extended absence and stories I have no wish to tell. Seemingly simultaneously, I have stories that are just starting to curl around in my brain in a somewhat pleasing fashion.
Yesterday, I took a drive that is becoming more familiar as the weeks pass. There is a part on the freeway where I can slow down and look at the water. To be honest, I am not sure if it is a lake or a large pond and I cannot quite seem to recall what it looks like in the sunshine. On Tuesday evening, it struck me as different. The fog rose up from the surface of the water and it looked magical as little wisps curled upwards towards what should have been the sky. It was a bit of magic and wonder combined and in those few seconds things seemed alive with promise. Now that I am thinking back, I feel like I need to grab some wellies and trudge across some windswept moors. I don’t know what it is like to do that in real life, but I can imagine it quite clearly. It seems like a combination of the bone-chilling and the unknown.
In some ways, that has been my life for the last few years. Just in this last year, a year of being involved in ‘everything’ left me feeling this terrible emptiness inside. I was there for everyone else, but I was never there for myself. If you had asked me to list my top 20 values or priorities, I wouldn’t have even made my own list. I had no idea what I was doing and why would I? It isn’t like life comes with a manual, and that is doubly true when you throw in chronic illness and advocacy work. I felt like I was starting from scratch again and 40 was looming in the distance like it was some dreaded deadline. What was I doing?! Short answer: I was being ‘fine’ until I wasn’t. In some ways, I think I have presented myself as being someone who has it all together. The truth is that I am human and I struggle too. I sought help and put in the hard work and I am still doing that work.
My experiences, however, got me thinking of the stories that we have and those we hide from others. I also starting thinking about the way mental health stories appear in our culture. The ones we do hear. The whole of society seems to alternately stifle those stories, coating them in shame, and elevate them. Intense suffering is wrapped up in a nice digestible package where we can vilify someone, pity them, or hold them up as some example of ‘indomitable will’. The truth of mental health journeys are far more nuanced, as most things are. I hope to focus more on covering some of this, along with practical suggestions for behavior modification and broader commentary of mental health issues throughout the globe. This is a lofty goal and one that will change this blog slightly, but I hope it will make it better. I thank you for following me thus far and hope that you will continue in the future.