Running toward the meadow: One definition of depression and anxiety

IMG_7055

Sometimes it is a small shuddering mouse, shaking in the darkness, afraid to come out for fear of death. It darts quickly around, hiding, sneaking, and trying desperately to be unseen. Twitching, sniffing and cowering, it is convinced danger is lurking behind everything and everyone. So it keeps to the shadowy, dark corners and doesn’t let anyone in.

Sometimes it is a hungry tiger, twisting primal urges forcing it to seek some kind of satisfaction. It lurks large, but not without stealth and a need to be sneaky and calculating. Forever unable to quench the desires deep inside, it hunts and roams with a desperation swelling with each passing second. Moments of boldness are followed by a deeper need to hoard away the spoils for fear they will be taken or lost.

Sometimes it is a black hole, feeding on the memories of past disappointments and the future failures lurking just ahead. Self-loathing bubbling always at the edges, it eats through everything else until there is only black and nothingness. It is a great expanse of darkness perfect for hiding in, safe from the colorful world of choices and chaos.

Dreams bring me images of running in a meadow that is free of gnawing animals and hidden dark holes waiting to swallow me. I can almost see the expanse of waving stalks blowing in the gentle breeze. I can almost smell the sweet lavender and honey-scented air filling my lungs. I can almost feel the soft wispy flowers brushing against my bare legs and the squishy earth beneath my toes.

Almost.

I read a bedtime story to my daughter and she puts her hand on my chest, feeling around and pressing into the skin. She finds comfort in the squishy warmth and her body relaxes preparing for rest and renewal. I kiss her. She embraces me and whispers her love into my ear. It floods me and takes me to the very edge of the meadow where I sit longingly and yearn.

I look at the stack of paper; the manuscript I finally wrote after years of letting the relentless pursuit of perfection slap me and kick me into the ditch of you can’t do it. When I let it go, the words spilled out in a tumble of excitement mixed with promise and joy. I giggled and typed until my neck ached and my family drew me back to them.

Yet pride and accomplishment are glued to qualifiers that I feel I must give you. Don’t think because I wrote all those words, they are something worth reading. The story is nothing remarkable, nothing amazing, nothing life changing for anyone but me. I feel you must know the fear of having my words read is almost greater than actually writing them.

You speak words of encouragement and love to me. I eat them. I crave them more than I should ever admit and even as I swallow them my focus is on all the words you didn’t say. The unspoken truths hidden just behind the door that I am certain I can hear knocking and rattling the handle.

The words ride on the backs of the beasts as they trample me down, sharp teeth tearing into my soft flesh and erasing the kindness you shared. I hear only what isn’t there and twist it into the perverted truth I insist on believing.

I long to have skin built tough and strong, an impenetrable fortress fortified with self-confidence and loving thoughts. Meditation. Affirmations. Love. It is never enough. My skin stays thin and fragile. A small look of disappointment, an intake of breath, an awkward moment of silence; all punch holes that fill quickly and relentlessly with emptying darkness.

Those of you who suffer like I do, we know the truth. We do not choose this path. We don’t consciously run away from the meadow and dive head first into the dark pit that surrounds us.

No.

We are driven there every single day by forces we can’t control and minds that betray the real us. The moat is deep and everywhere we turn it surrounds us. We can try to jump over it and sometimes we almost do.

Almost.

As I write these words I’m aware my attempt to convey my feelings falls short and might be taken as excessive and trying too hard. I’m so desperate to somehow find the right words to be profound and make you understand. I want it so badly.

If I can reach you then maybe you can reach me. Maybe if we both lean across and stretch our arms and fingers out we can connect and find a moment of solace and peace together.

I am scared and terrified at what you think of me. I feel the judgment before I even hit the publish button, yet some part of me knows I will do it. I will take the leap and let it fall where it may.

I keep doing hard things.

I keep crawling back out of the dark, even with the knowledge I will forever be pursued by it.

I keep running toward the meadow.

I just keep running.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Running toward the meadow: One definition of depression and anxiety

  1. There are so many statements that you have written in this piece that resonate with me.

    This:
    ” Sometimes it is a black hole, feeding on the memories of past disappointments and the future failures lurking just ahead.”

    I have always described my depression as a pit. A pit that I claw and struggle to get out of, but into which I keep sliding down further and further until I finally make the effort to ask for help. And professional help it must be, including medication, even as I hate having to put a chemical substance into my body. Sometimes I kid myself into thinking I will be OK without the meds, but always the pit pulls me back down. Fortunately, I have never fallen so deep that I cannot see the light at the top, even if it is only a pinprick. As long as I can see that light, I know there is hope.

    And this:
    ” I long to have skin built tough and strong, an impenetrable fortress fortified with self-confidence and loving thoughts. Meditation. Affirmations. Love. It is never enough. My skin stays thin and fragile. A small look of disappointment, an intake of breath, an awkward moment of silence; all punch holes that fill quickly and relentlessly with emptying darkness.”

    Thick skin? Ha. What is that? Sometimes I can fake it with a show of bravado, compensate with a self deprecating remark, but as you say, none of this armor is really ever enough to keep the pit from yawning wide. Those looks that I perceive as judgment, the words interpreted by my broken brain as criticism can all send me spiraling down the rabbit hole once more.

    And this:
    “Those of you who suffer like I do, we know the truth. We do not choose this path. We don’t consciously run away from the meadow and dive head first into the dark pit that surrounds us.
    No. We are driven there every single day by forces we can’t control and minds that betray the real us. The moat is deep and everywhere we turn it surrounds us. We can try to jump over it and sometimes we almost do.”

    Choice? There is no choice for us. Because if there were, surely we would choose to soar in the light rather than wallow in the dark. All I have ever been able to do is ride the wave. Like a surfer who has been tossed off her board, I just try to relax and float through the turbulent seas of despair until I bob to the surface and can breathe again. Some days all I can do is tread water and others, I actually make it all the way to the shore, where I stand shakily and look back out to sea, watching for the next wave.

    And this:
    “I am scared and terrified at what you think of me.”

    Fear and terror? Real or imagined, it is always there, perched like a vulture in the back of my mind. And I don’t understand why the approval of others is so important to me. I long to be able to just let go and have fun, regardless of what other people think. I know I can do it, I have before, before this creature called depression sunk its talons in me.

    And, as I finish this reply to you, the doubt begins to set in. Will she even read this comment? Will she think I was eloquent and witty and possibly, just possibly, good enough? I don’t know. And I guess it shouldn’t matter. What should matter is:

    “If I can reach you then maybe you can reach me. Maybe if we both lean across and stretch our arms and fingers out we can connect and find a moment of solace and peace together.”

    Bridgette, you keep running toward your meadow, and I will keep riding my wave, and hopefully, we both will find our way out of that pit and escape the mice and tigers and vultures that dwell within it.

    Like

    • Lisa, your words are my beacon today, my pinprick of light as you so perfectly described it. I was having doubts about this piece, as it feels like it was ripped out of me and I lay exposed and naked for all to see.

      Thank you for reaching out to me and for writing that you understand, it means more than you can imagine. You are eloquent, witty and MORE THAN ENOUGH! Truly.

      Please keep riding your wave, because those moments on the shore are so blissful and so worth every inch of darkness we have to battle out of. It helps knowing others out there are fighting similar beasts.

      Thank you friend. Thank you.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s