Anyone that has ever suffered from a season of debilitating anxiety, panic, deep despair, or grief will understand how crooked and lengthy the healing process can be. You have good days, you have bad days, and days are taken one at a time. Overall you are doing very well and you are learning to get on with life, and you have not let it control you anymore. Your mental health no longer consumes you like it used to. You can get out of bed, you can shower and you can be around people.
You are on the road to success.
I was shivering from the cold the other day, my entire body shaking uncontrollably from our big Canadian temperature dip, and I remembered shaking that violently over one thought.
I have come so far.
A few weeks ago I was crammed onto a C-Train (transit) with hundreds of drunk football fans. We were so sandwiched in that this one guy had his finger caught in the revolving door as people on the platform crammed him in. He began to bleed, a lot. As the blood dripped on the floor, he began to sway from drunkenness, trying to clean the blood with his sock. I was shoulder to shoulder with strangers, hanging onto the bar, nowhere to go, nowhere to escape.
Are you feeling anxious just reading that?
Well guess what?!
Not one bit of panic surged through me. I was calm, I stood in peace, and I even handed the poor guy a tissue for his injury.
That, my friends, is progress!
Though I am anxiety and depression free, and have been for a few months, I am still not 100% myself.
There is a part of me that isn’t quite healed yet, my inner being rattled from such a big side swipe.
My emotions are more raw, I am way more sensitive to things and people around me than I ever used to be, I am easily insecure and I cannot handle as much stress as I used to. I am trying to find the balance between expressing my emotions and not becoming a basket case.
In the past, I was the smiley one, the shove it down girl, the persevere person, the keep the peace lady, and the life of the party.
I used to bury my emotions so I could be strong for others, and then BOOM!
I fell hard, and it has been a long climb up.
Now that I seem to be doing better, I often fear that people expect the same strength, and the same perseverance from me and they are not quite sure why I am still ‘off’. So I have been noticing my relationships straining. They have stopped asking how I am, and I have stopped telling, so I don’t come across too needy. Why do we do that?! When the truth is, I am still in a puddle, still healing.
Yesterday, for the 1st time in a long time, I got to share my heart, and this person HAD to listen to me, because they got paid to do so. It was so refreshing to have someone just listen and let me be unstable for a moment. I hadn’t been to therapy for over 6 months and I just needed a check in to deal with some lasting fears.
As I walked to my appointment, I felt the Lord say that I was walking on a path to victory, and I surely believe it.
The therapist could not believe how hard I have been working to climb out of this mental illness. She said that most people resort to drugs which are only a temporary solution and don’t follow through with the hard stuff that really does the healing. Where as I had done all the hard work to health without any drug. (Side note: I do believe in medication!!!!!) She was surprised at how much I knew about remaining healthy and living anxiety free. If I could put words in her mouth, I would say she was very proud of me. That was so nice to hear.
She said what I am dealing with right now is trauma.
She said I was traumatized by what had happened, that I needed to give myself grace to heal.
I am sure she knew she hit it home when I emptied the box of kleenex in a mega second.
She was right! I am traumatized! I am 100% traumatized. I just have a word for it now!
Traumatized by how dark it got, traumatized by how little control I had, traumatized by losing a year of my life to this. Though the suffering and torment is over, the memory is not. It’s as fresh as yesterday.
Many people who have gone through a period of severe anxiety and panic will tell you, it is or was the hardest thing they had ever been through. I have received letters and emails from people who say that they used to be a very strong able person, who handled a lot, and now they can’t even drive, or get dressed in the mornings, or be around people.
It is such a hard disorder to understand, especially because the majority of people it hits are strong people that you once depended on greatly. I once walked into a workshop for writers, at Write Canada, and someone after me approached me, and said, ‘when you walk in the room there is this sense that everything is going to be okay, because Sarah is here.” It was a great compliment, yet heavy to carry. Many people over the years have said that when they reached a crisis they would think “what would Sarah do?” or say “Sarah will know what to do.”
I am not saying that out of pride, It can sometimes be a very big weight to carry, when so many people depend on you. Many people expect you to bounce back to that position and role in their life, when deep inside you are crying out for someone to put their arm around you, sincerely ask you how you are , and really listen, letting you be weak, just for a moment.
Strong personalties, like mine, need people around them who can see past the calm, strong demeanour, and dig a little.
One day, I will look back on that time with reflection and peace, but for now I still need grace, grace for myself and from others, as I sort out my thoughts, and work through my trauma.
I know that God has brought me up this mountain to make me stronger, and wiser and one step closer to wholeness. God wants to take me to the summit, despite the traumatizing climb, to show me the view and to show others how to get there.
Though I can see the summit of this excruciating rock, I often fear that I will tumble again. However, I trust in God that he works all things together for good for those who love him. So I close this post, with my eye on a vision, of me huffing and puffing, hands on my knees, face down, exhausted from the climb, I see God putting his hand on my shoulder and saying “look – You did it! Look how far you have come”
I lift up my eyes and for the first time see the view and gasp. “wow, I see it all and It was worth it.”