A week or two ago Ann and I made our now very familiar trip to the doctor in Salt Lake. After years of searching and trial and error, we really feel that we have a team we trust that is on our side, helping us navigate these wild and crazy waters.
Now, not to brag or anything, but I’m a pretty tough nut.
Okay, how could that be anything but bragging?
Oh well, moving on.
I can take a lot. I’m pretty clever and can usually find ways to adapt and make my new reality work for our family. Pain is certainly relative. I’m always sure it can be worse.
For example, when I had a large pulmonary embolism along with three other smaller ones, I waited more than 30 minutes before deciding that maybe I should call Ann and go get it checked out. The fact that I couldn’t breathe didn’t really convince me that, given enough time and will power, I wouldn’t be able to adapt and just get used to it.
It will eventually go away, right?
I guess my point is, I am rarely going to ask for medical help.
But this journey through mental illness has humbled me a bit. Every once in a while I actually will realize I need to ask for help.
So, most of the time I feel that I can answer my question about gearing up for the long term in the affirmative. We can figure it out.
When I say we, I mean either Ann and me, Heavenly Father and me, or even the combination of Greg and the real Greg (aren’t those imaginary friends great?).
Or, it is a combination of all of the above.
I’ve hit a point where I need some help.
As much as it kills me to ask for it, I understand that it may just kill me if I don’t.
On our last trip to Salt Lake, I was at that point.
As we worked together through what I had been doing and what I needed to change in my medication, I realized and admitted that I had just wanted a break from the fight.
I’ve thought a lot about that since our conversation in the doctor’s office.
These last few days have been abnormally tough. Yesterday I felt I needed more than a break, I felt like I just didn’t have any more to draw from to even approach the battle line.
But I looked at the clock and knew that Ann would be coming home soon.
And I had two options:
I could be a mess curled up in the closet; or, I could greet her when she comes in and ask her about her day and enjoy the conversation as I trail behind her from the mudroom to the kitchen to the bedroom to the closet to change her clothes (well, you get the idea; I’m like Ann’s little puppy never giving her some peace).
Some may think that I am not facing the real issues by wanting to stuff all the feelings back down inside and ignore them, choosing instead to do the continual work of overcoming for her. The argument would be that I should be doing it for me.
Ann and I were talking a few weeks ago, and again, I marveled at how everything she has ever done since I have known her is for others: me, her calling in the ward, her coworkers, her children.
Especially her children.
The amount of time she spent reading with them cannot be quantified.
She needs to write the manual on being a mother. Every breath she took was focused in teaching, training, and loving her children.
And look at them now.
The point is that when I reminded her that she never did anything for herself, she looked at me and said “have you ever considered that this is what I do for myself?”
Mulling it over through those nights that never seem to end, I understood that this is the quiet miracle of the gospel of Jesus Christ waiting to be discovered by each of us.
It brought a much deeper, more personal understanding of the scriptural teaching “if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth.”
Choosing to get up from the fetal position in the closet, prepare dinner, and greet Ann after a long work day strengthens her.
Kind of like putting the pain into its relative place in our lives.
As we enjoyed our quiet evening together last night, I forgot that I didn’t have any fight left in me.
And in the forgetting, I remembered that I don’t have to fight alone.
Whatever “we” I am in at the time, one of us will always have what it takes to fight.
You are the only one who knows what is incredibly hard in your life. You are the only one who knows when your tank is empty and that you aren’t sure that you can do this long term.
How will you keep fighting?
The miracle is there for each us.
We just have to be willing to ask for the help.