One of the little surprises this holiday season was a framed quote that many of you have already seen:
My doctor asked if any members of my family suffered from insanity. I replied, “No, we all seem to enjoy it.”
After the initial chuckle, taking time to ponder just what this statement can mean still brings a smile to my face.
But probably without the laughter.
A few weekends before Alex was scheduled to arrive home, Ann and I thought that I should call Monday morning and see if I could get an emergent appointment with the doctor in Salt Lake. The combination of mental illness symptoms and medication side effects felt just out of my reach of control.
I have learned how to control my outward actions and responses to the mental inward implosions. The feelings of slowing slipping into insanity, the screaming inside at being locked in an unreal prison that is more restricting than any cell made of iron bars, and the overwhelming physical exhaustion can be tamed and kept within.
I actually think I’m pretty nice and easy going overall.
But we had hit that point where I didn’t think I could last until our next appointment after the first of the year.
There was no panic, or even fear; I quietly cared about the fixing the whole thing and finding the way to move forward.
But that Monday morning I was going to call for an emergent appointment, I decided not to. Instead, I had a pretty profound realization:
- We know our monster and have a name for it: bipolar/psychosis/OCD.
- We have tried MANY different treatments and have found the combination of medication, meditation/prayer, exercise, diet and sleep along with immersion in the gospel that is the right solution for us.
- We aren’t afraid anymore, or angry about the life that might have been, or despairing over my role as a NON-provider. We are at peace and enjoy more happiness than I can conceive could be possible – for anyone in any circumstance.
- We are blessed with a quiet witness that we have done, and are doing, all that we can and must do to face this particular challenge head on.
So, in that way, we have made it through the forest.
You know what I mean. In all the fairy tales the demons are fought in the darkness of the forest. After the battle is won the champions emerge from the shadowed woods into a bright clearing filled with flowers and rainbows.
Okay, just flowers.
So, on that particular quiet morning after a pretty difficult night I realized that it wasn’t necessary to call the doctor for emergent help.
Instead, I peacefully understood that even though we have made it through the dense and dark forest and stepped out into the sunshine, there are still trees.
Lots of them.
I quietly comprehended, and accepted, that we already have our answers and solutions. I can’t put into words our gratitude that we are saved from just how horrible mental illness can be.
But, on the flip side, I realized that this is about as easy as it is going to be.
For the rest of our lives.
There are times when it suddenly hits me, a bit surprisingly, that I FEEL so deeply sad, both physically and emotionally.
I guess these are the trees that followed us out of the forest.
Yet at the same time I know that I AM not unhappy.
Even if I tried, and worked really hard at it, I have found that I AM not a sad person.
This is what has come from leaving our forest behind.
It makes me think of the timeless quote: “To BE or not to BE, that is the question.”
Our long and hard-fought journey through our own particular treacherous woods has helped me to find the answer inside myself.
Deep within my BEING, I am alive, happy, peaceful, able to be in the moment, calm, full of trust, and most importantly, filled with hope – hope for today as well as tomorrow.
I think that too often we don’t realize that we have already made it through our own forests, because there are still trees. We think that it must be either all trees, or all meadow and flowers.
The truth is that very rarely is it one or the other.
Probably 98% of the time it’s both.
So, with the New Year, it’s a good time to ask yourself:
WHERE are you?
Who ARE you?
I bet you’ll see some grass and flowers under your feet if you look hard enough; and, hey, give yourself a break and don’t work so hard at being unhappy.
Chances are that this is about as easy as it is going to be.
Might as well enjoy the ride.