This won’t be my most eloquent post ever. It won’t be particularly organized or flow in the way I’d prefer. It’s just my attempt to work through some feelings–and hopefully continue to shed light on an issue that is woefully problematic in modern society.
Today is the first day of Mental Health Awareness Month. And I’m acutely aware.
I’m thinking about Naomi Judd, who lost her battle with mental illness yesterday. And my friend Joshua Stoddard who lost his battle just before Christmas. I’m thinking about my own battle–and how that word feels so apt.
For those of us who struggle with depression, anxiety, OCD, and other mental health issues, every day can feel like a fight–and not one society has much genuine interest in joining us for.
My ongoing struggle with depression is the single most lonely experience of my life.
Yesterday, I got walloped with what I have previously called my heavy blanket. It was triggered by the usual culprits–I experience rejection or loss of some sort, and it leaves me with the sense that I am failing at life and have no hope for redemption or fulfillment, that I would be better off dead. (If this is uncomfortable for you to read, you are not alone–I, too, am quite uncomfortable with this reality of mine.)
These feelings are as familiar to me as my own reflection in the mirror. I know them intimately. For a long time, I probably kept quiet about them, not knowing what to say or feeling shame at their sharing. Still I often hide away from the world in my “bad place.” But over time, I have come to engage with the feelings in the way that I engage with the rest of my life–honestly and authentically. And often with apology.
I am sorry. I’m sorry to be having these feelings of hopelessness. And sorry to be mucking up someone else’s day with them.
Last night I called a friend and said “I’m feeling afraid to be alone.” She came over, and I weeped as she laid in bed with me, stroking my hair. Just like here–more so probably–I didn’t have eloquent words, only raw, ugly emotions. And she met them with kindness.
Today, I reached out to a friend and mentor and said “I’m having one of those days when you tell me I should call you. Even though I don’t what to say, that’s what I’m doing” She met me with love–and, I believe, with gratitude at having been the one I chose to call.
Here’s the deal: this shit sucks. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again–I don’t blame Naomi. I don’t blame Josh. In some ways, I’m envious of them. And that’s probably really uncomfortable for you to read. But it’s my truth. And that’s the only way I’ll tell it.
This month–and everyday–I want to contribute to more awareness of issues of mental health. I don’t know what difference it will make, but I feel like I owe it to Naomi and Joshua and all those who’ve come before and will come after. You are not alone.
We’re in this battle together. (And I’m so so very sorry you were tired from the fight.)