Brain Bruises

“It’s important that we share our experiences with other people. Your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else. When you tell your story, you free yourself and give other people permission to acknowledge their own story.” -Iyanla Vanzant

I went camping this weekend. Actually, if I’m honest, it was more of a blend between camping and glamping. We had a cabin, running water, and electricity, but we still cooked everything over an open flame in the fire pit outside. The details of the trip aren’t really relevant to this post or the thoughts in my head right now though, so I’ll just move on.

I went on this trip with three friends I went to high school with. We were all in choir together, but with them being a grade below me, they knew each other far better than I did. About halfway through the second day, one of them asked me a bit hesitantly if I had been married, or if she had just imagined it. Admittedly, it is a bit of a touchy subject, but I really don’t mind sharing it with people because of the simple reason that I feel a bit of relief and a sense of calmness after getting it off my chest yet again.

This is why I write what I write, and this is why I share so much of my personal struggles: it’s always felt healing to me. I think our culture has become such a culture of secrecy and false exteriors. It has become so important to create the illusion of “everything is perfectly okay”, but the consequences of living that way are incredibly detrimental to our health. So I write about divorce. I write about insecurities. I write about depression.

Lately, I’ve been caught in the midst of another depressive period. It shows itself in the lack of energy to do much of anything, in the feeling of utter exhaustion, in the inability to feel emotions even a fraction as brightly as last year, and in the annoyance and irritability of the people who tell me to just “cheer up”. The difference is that I’m able to recognize the symptoms this time around. The last time it was this bad, I felt completely lost and like I was drowning without any way to be saved.

There’s this quote I love about depression by Jeffery Eugenides that says, “Depression is like a bruise that never goes away. A bruise in your mind. You just got to be careful not to touch where it hurts. It’s always there, though.” Yes, last year I was doing better. I was the healthiest I had been in close to a decade. But the thing about depression is that once you’ve truly been held captive by it, it’s so easy to be recaptured. Sometimes there’s almost a relief to not feeling emotions as strongly anymore. It sounds twisted, but there’s some sort of comfort in the familiar nothingness. However, the comfort is coupled by a terror that this time, you might not get back out of the hole, that you might not get to be healthy and feel anything anymore.

The reason I write this is because practicing a life of openness and honesty, a life of true vulnerability, means sharing the struggles along with the triumphs. After writing about my struggle with depression over two years ago for the first time, I was able to really see and experience that I wasn’t nearly as alone as I felt. Depression is such an alienating experience, but writing about it helps take the edge off.

So this is who I am: I’ve had high moments, moments where I still feel joy and excitement, but the empty nothingness is very present in my day to day life, and the road to recovery will be one that I’ll be trudging through for a very long time to come. I’ll continue writing about it, because sometimes that’s the only thing I can do.

Bluebonnets at Black Rock Lake Park, Texas - April 2015
Bluebonnets at Black Rock Lake Park, Texas – April 2015

listening to: Phosphorescent

Fight or Flight

When faced with confrontation, people tend to fall into one of two categories. They either run from it or they stay and fight.

I’m a runner.

I run from fights. I run from people. I run from lies. I run from any uncomfortable situation imaginable when given the chance.

I’m not here to say that either way is right or wrong. I think both reactions can be better for certain situations, but it’s a very rare instance that I’ll stay and fight when I have the chance to escape.

I’ve written lately about some of the struggles I’ve been facing, but I think a big part of my tiredness is just a sense of restlessness. A feeling of containment and loss of adventure. I don’t want to say it’s still a culture shock type of thing, because I’ve been back in the states for four and a half months, but I think it’s more of a “I’m back in this massive country and the sense of newness and exploration has disappeared.” I know that’s probably not a very healthy way of looking at life, but more than just wanting to see new places, it’s become a craving. It’s becoming this way to quench a thirst in my soul.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence, maybe it’s perfect timing, or maybe it’s just because I have some friends who can relate to this feeling more than most, but I recently got offered a chance to go on a week-long trip. This family that I grew up with in Alaska offered to take me with them on a cruise that will make stops in three different countries next week.

Of course I accepted the offer. How could I not accept an offer like that? It’s one of the most selfless gifts I can remember being given in recent history. It gives me a chance to breathe, to relax, to emotionally and mentally recover from whatever I’ve been pushing myself through lately. Most importantly, it’ll give me quite a lot of down time without outside distractions to write and meditate and get back into my right mind.

Back to the fight vs flight conundrum. I feel like this cruise might be a bit of a way for me to escape and avoid some of the conflicts that have been building up or have already happened. If I’m being completely honest, I’m looking forward to the running away. I’m eager to escape from my reality for eight short days. I want a chance to block out all responsibility and accountability that seems to be consistently beating down my door. I want to get back to being fully me without any of the nonsense I’ve been bringing on myself lately.

Obviously, I know that running away for a week doesn’t fix the major problems. I know that running forever doesn’t fix anything in the long run. This is why I’ve stopped permanently escaping for the most part. I do face things and deal with problems now when absolutely necessary.

However, I wait. I breathe. I think. I recover. And then I deal.

Lago di Lugano- Paridiso, Lugano, Switzerland
Lago di Lugano- Paridiso, Lugano, Switzerland

listening to: Mat Kearney, Hushpuppies