This morning I read a post from a woman whose blog I follow. In that post she expressed how chaotic and overwhelming her life felt. She has some special needs kids, and recent political turmoil has really hit home for her. Because of all of this, and some depression she’s battling, she feels like she is flailing around in the dark. She’s written posts like this one before and probably will again as she tries to find a new balance. What struck me this time has far more to do with me than with her, because this time I did not have an instant resonance with her emotional state. I spent a long time feeling as she does: lost, overwhelmed, continuing to move forward with determination instead of real hope. Today I could see all those things in her, but I could also see how much of her state is colored by the depression and anxiety that dwells in her head. She has honest cause for grief and an emotional reset, but grief, depression, and anxiety are darkening every day in ways that make her whole life difficult. This was true with me as well, but today’s reading also showed me that I’d emerged from it, at least a little.
When I was a child, my family would drive along I-70 into the Sierra Nevada mountains. It was a winding road with sharp drop offs down steep canyons. It is a stunning (if nerve wracking) drive full of amazing vistas. One trip was beset with fog. We drove slowly and carefully because we could only see a few feet in front of our vehicle. But then from one moment to the next, the fog was gone. We had climbed up above it, and we could see sunshine and a landscape of clouds, bordered on either side by tree covered mountain peaks. It was beautiful and mysterious. Such a surprise to be able to see so far when only moments before we’d only been able to see right in front of us.
I’m reluctant to draw any grand plans or conclusions from the fact that I’ve emerged above the fog this week. Part of me would like to state that my intention to live in less fear is working, the changes I’m making in confronting anxiety are working. However, there are so many other factors at play here. My kids who have all been struggling in pairs, trios, or quartets for the past five years, are suddenly not struggling in the ways they were before. Tipping over into the next year released some funds which make me less stressed about finances this month than I was last month. All of these things combine together and the fog vanishes. Also, it isn’t completely gone. I have to remember that just yesterday morning a small event had me curled up in bed with a fort of pillows so that I could cry in safety. For an hour. That sort of thing doesn’t really fit into the “I’m all better now” theme song. I’m not “all better” but I did get up, see the anxiety attack for what it was, and then move on with my day while doing my best to not berate myself for letting anxiety win.
On that foggy drive, we dipped back into the fog multiple times as the road curved up and down the mountainside. I’d expect the same from any emotional healing process. I’m still going to get ambushed by grief or anxiety. However I’m still determined to build an existence where anxiety and depression are no longer the soundtrack of my life.