I’ve been thinking about my life and where I am right now. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I struggle with depression and anxiety. One thing that really gets to me is this feeling like I am always behind on something. The laundry needs to be folded, put away, purged etc. The cupboards need to be reorganized. The hats and scarves and mittens need to be sorted, the walls need to be washed, and the list goes on and on and on. I have several craft projects on the go which I have no idea when I will finish. There is just always something that needs to be done and never enough time to do it.
In a world where we have to be afraid to walk down the street, where if we are at a club or an airport or a concert we run the risk of being shot dead in one massacre or bombing or another, it is tough not to worry all of the time. The human race resorts to violence to draw attention to whatever beliefs they are passionate about, and we are always on the verge of war. How does one raise their children in an environment like that, teaching them to be safe and cautious about everything and everyone, and not live in a state of constant fear and anxiety?
I wish that life was different. I avoid the news like the plague and I try to pretend that bad things won’t happen to me or the people I know and love. I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this. I haven’t done a whole lot of research on subjects like Al-Quaeda or ISIS but what I take from their behavior is basically that I feel we each have the right to decide which path we follow to God, if we do so at all, and discover that on our own, in our own time. As a Christian I don’t believe that anybody should be running around bombing buildings and slaughtering and beheading people for having different beliefs. Can’t we just worship in our own way and leave each other the fuck alone? If the shoe were on the other foot, when you strip away all the bullshit and we are looking death in the eye we are all the same. Weak and fearful flesh and bone. The moment before death we are exposed and terrified. At least that’s how I imagine it would be. And the thought of putting someone else in that position is more than I can fathom. Why can’t they do their thing, and leave everyone else alone to do theirs? Why do they have to kill other people to get their point across? I don’t know what it says in their bible, but in my bible we are taught to be humble and to serve others as Jesus did. “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” – Matthew 5:5.
And what about school shootings? When someone is unstable and loses their shit, why is their first impulse to go into a building full of wide-eyed, innocent children and murder them? How did that somehow become the social norm? So suddenly, because somebody else could be having a breakdown, I have to fear for my children’s lives every waking moment of the day? They have to be taught to hide under their desks in fear in the event that this is a real possibility? Teachers are throwing themselves in front of them like human shields to protect them because they are that precious. Some of these kids are five years old, they still have their chubby baby cheeks and they know nothing of the terrors of the world. They’re just going to school like they’re forced to do. And I can’t imagine anything worse than snuffing out those little flames.
So yes. I have anxiety. About everything. How can I not? How do you just relax and say “fuck it” when this is the world we live in? I just want to go about my day and be left alone. Don’t touch my kids, don’t touch my family, just leave me be. Let me be meek.
The other day I was trying to remember the last time I wasn’t depressed. I try to remember the way I felt. I think that the key is to change the way you perceive things. I can go on and on in my head about how angry I am about any given subject in a day, or I can turn it around and let it go, let it roll off my back. I can try to find the joy in the simple things, in the quiet moments. I can try to stop letting everything get to me. It’s easy enough to say, and something quite different to actually implement, but it’s worth a shot. It’s better than the thought of living day-to-day life allowing everything to hurt me.
So one of the New Year’s resolutions I made this year was to practice some self-love. I have found the best way to keep a level head is to make sure I get exercise. This week I did really well and today I could feel the ache in every muscle in my body, but it reminded me that I am doing something good for myself and that it’s working. Every stretch of those muscles feels like a million bucks. And it keeps me aware that I am working towards my goal. At the end of the day, if I have expended some energy on something positive, I have less energy remaining to focus on the negative. Not to mention the endorphins and that feeling you get when you hate yourself for the first 10-15 minutes of cardio and suddenly break a solid sweat and get into your groove. It’s like in yoga when your instructor kicks your ass and then you finally get to succumb to the mat. There are few things in life that have brought me that much self-awareness.
I don’t know if I will ever be completely free from the grip of my mental illness, but I do know that I’m not giving up without a fight. There are things we can all do to alleviate some of the stress in our lives, if only we take a moment to reflect on what truly brings us joy and puts us at peace. I’m sure it’s different for everyone, and I’m not discrediting that, but self-love is a damn good place to start. We can make all the excuses we want, claim we don’t have enough time to do this or that, but at the end of the day it’s up to us to make ourselves a priority.