Summits, Pills, and the Hand of God

Thirteen months ago, give or take a few weeks, I started taking happy pills to deal with the all-encompassing depression that had entered into my daily life. I remember how hard it was at the beginning. The pills made me really nauseous so I didn’t want to eat anything, which made me lose several pounds in just a few days. Then the nausea caused me to grind my teeth a lot, which gave me a constant headache. And then there was the overall trauma that yes, I, Maney, was actually taking happy pills. It was kind of disconcerting for a small, helpless human of my age. Like, what have I done to deserve needing these? I felt like the universe had played some kind of terrible trick on me.

“Go on, Maney, make friends and fall in love, and just when things start looking up, say goodbye to those you love the most. Also, mental illness runs in your family. Buckle up.”

I’m not saying that these feelings were good or bad, just that that was how I felt. It was hard.

And here I am, thirteen months later, and I’ve just started working off of my pills. Wow, I feel like this has been such an uphill climb, and I’m finally at the top and can start the somewhat easier trek back down to whatever’s waiting for me at the bottom. It took so much of my heart and soul to become emotionally stable enough to reach this point. I’ve had to jump through so many of my sweet counselor’s hoops so she and I both felt like I would be ready to come off and stay off.

So the main point of this post is, I guess I don’t know what’s going on in your life, reader. Maybe you’re climbing that mountain to accomplish something really important to you, like receiving a college degree, figuring out your place in this world, or getting off your happy pills. Or maybe you’re at the summit or walking down, marveling that you were able to achieve your dream. But no matter where you are, I hope you can see beauty, and hope, and the hand of God in your life. No matter how lonely or hopeless I felt this past year and before, I always knew deep in my heart that I wasn’t alone. And neither are you.

As an added bonus, here is a beautiful video a friend of mine posted on Facebook last week, and it really touched me. It reminded me that there is so much beauty in the world, and we have to keep looking for it. After all, if you and I don’t, then how can we be sure anyone will?

P.S. It’s a couple dancing in the wilderness. Maybe not your style–I respect that. Have you seen anything beautiful lately? I’d love to see or hear about it.

Vulnerable, Because of Him

Generally I feel that vulnerability is not a desired characteristic in one’s self. I, for one, hate to feel unprotected. Out of control. Weak. This is when my brain takes over my heart. It says, “Heart, you have gotten us into the worst pain we have ever known. So we’re now co-captains of this Maney Vessel, and in case of emergency, I am in charge.”

This can be a good thing. It helps me through anxiety attacks sometimes. I use my brain to imagine a world that I can understand. A world that I can feel safe in. Or sometimes I am in so much pain because of those I love and lose and miss, I can think my way into some candlelit corner of hope. Although my brain is good at managing tasks and solving problems, it can be a little unfeeling when it comes to relationships. In some ways this is a strength: no hope, no hurt. If you never let yourself love or hope or dream, you can’t be disappointed when those things come to an agonizing end. Right?

But. My counselor says that vulnerability is a good thing. And that gives me pause for thought. I trust my counselor. She literally saved my life. She is kind and good and safe. And she tells me that being vulnerable is healthy! It goes against every self-defense skill I taught myself after everything happened! But she says it’s true, so…

So I’ve been trying it lately. Trying to be a little more vulnerable. Trying to put my heart out there. And let me just tell you, it’s scary as heck. I am a human who gets an anxiety attack if someone speaks too loudly in public. How can I explain this so the general non-anxious population will understand? Um… imagine your least favorite bug crawling over your face. If that makes you quite uncomfortable, then that is how it feels to “put myself out there.”

I’m not complaining–or maybe I am, and I’m sorry–but I only mean to tell you that you’re not alone. Life is hard, and anxiety is hard, and being vulnerable on purpose is terrifying. True, true, true. But please don’t give up! If only for this: I cannot be the only one who is doing this. I need a few humans who understand a little of my fear, and who still keep trying to be open to new relationships.

Also, don’t forget: there is always one person who knows exactly what you’re going through. He loves you. He suffered and died for you. And He lives.

You can be brave because of Him.

Writers Unite

I’m supposed to be writing a paper on Lutheranism right now, but I was distracted by beautiful words. I’m kind of a fan-girl when it comes to IncresitySpeaks’ poetic writing. I seriously love their (gender neutral) stuff. Usually I’m kind of a freak about grammar and proper spelling and usage and stuff, but with this artist I make an exception. Their writing is just so pure and untainted by the color-in-the-lines attitude we were all force-fed in school. This quote is from their post “Her little hush box.”:

“We are all looking for ourselves, and we all have sad, secret little hush boxes. Whoever you are, I ask yourself to let it go. Let go of your hoardings.

I used to see her at school, she walked a little slower, as one would with a heavy box chained to their heart. I see the people walking all around. Most in a hurry with determined steps and sharp turns. They are all searching, searching for what they will never find in a box.”

I wish more people had this blogger’s raw talent. Heck, I wish I had it. Writing, to me, is more than just plugging in subjects and verbs. It’s like Red Smith said: “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”

. . .

Link to IncresitySpeaks’ “Her little hush box.”:

Cutting Strings

For a long time I had this image in my head of a bunch of helium balloons tied to the ground with strings, straining against their bonds, dancing a little in the breeze. I imagined taking a pair of scissors and, one by one, cutting them free, watching them fly into the never-never blue, watching them shrink into nothingness, watching them join the stars.

In my mind, these balloons were pieces of me. I longed to be set free from this world, to fly into that beautiful, mysterious unknown. After a while, the phrase “cutting strings” came to mean letting go of my worldly cares, pretending that life was beautiful, and closing my eyes to my pain. But then one day I was at my friend’s gravestone.

(You should know that I searched for journal evidence of this moment, but I couldn’t find any; therefore, I am forced to tell this memory as a story, remembering the details as best as I can.)

There had been a beautiful bouquet of balloons floating peacefully above his stone a few days ago, but there had been a windstorm the day before. A vase of flowers had tipped over and shattered on his cement, and a few of the tangled-up balloons had popped, holding their whole brothers near the glass shards in the grass. I saw this, and I was filled with some inexplicable need to set the balloons free. So I knelt in the grass and, careful to avoid being cut, I used one of the pieces of glass to sever the popped balloons’ strings from the bouquet. Then I meticulously untangled the strings, and one by one, I released each of the whole balloons into the air. They sprang back into their soldier-like guardianship of his stone, content in their place in the world, secured by their strings.

I had desired for so long to set myself free from my pain, but I thought that I would need to distance myself from life in order to do so. Clutching the scraps of ribbon and balloon in my hands, I realized that maybe cutting strings meant that I needed to cut away the pain and fear and guilt that I had been carrying around with me.

We are meant to stay grounded to this life. This is where we belong. Being free, cutting ourselves loose into the metaphorical sky, isn’t real freedom. That is the land of the lost. Unless God calls you back into the sky, you are meant to be here.

Some strings do need to be cut; just make sure they are the weights that hold you down, not the lines that hold you to life.