Today for some reason my mind is blank….or struggling for clarity. I thought about this poem written a while ago and offer it here.
Deep in the closets of my mind dark secrets are hiding I have not seem them for many years
I stand and look at the doors and fear to look inside to let the light shine in
The fear is not of pain but something far more frightening the fear of myself
the real me hiding all these years the me no one can love the me I cannot accept
God, help me to fling open the doors and with broom in hand throw out the secrets
and dust off the person who has been hiding in the dark
I have recently run into someone who has some significant mental health issues. It is evident when you are around her that there is something going on. She descends into depression and copes poorly with it. The last time I saw her she was ecstatically happy. She was over the top. She has been diagnosed as bipolar but she is unwilling to take care of herself. She talked about how the psychologist she sees knows nothing and how she quit taking her meds because she doesn’t need them.
This is not new. She has struggled for a long time. It is sad to see her and hear that she is still in denial.
It is so difficult when someone is unable to cope at all with their illness. This is not only true of mental health issues but also with physical problems. As a nurse I have known diabetics who totally ignored the problem. One is a physician.
It seems to me that the path to wellness begins with acceptance and a willingness to help yourself. It is hard to discover something that you have to live with forever. I wrote recently about how my mother coped with a chronic illness that completely changed her life. She struggled at first learning how to live with the changes to herself but learned to manage and lived a long and fruitful life.
Each of us has something that we have to accept. I have had ups and downs with my IBS and anxiety but I feel that my life has given me much and I keep on keeping on. I read the blogs of people who not only cope with their problems but are also willing to share their failures and successes with the community. Their strength and openness inspires others and gives hope to many.
We can learn to live a full life in spite of our particular issues and reach out to others who have problem.
Some days are good and some not so good. I am fighting IBS again. This always brings on anxiety. I always seem to do this after things are settling down. I am one of those people who rises to the crisis, works to help, sees it resolve and then falls apart. I guess it’s not a bad way to be as it does allow me to work through problems before I crash. I just wish no crash would come at all.
We live an up an down life. At least I know some of us do. Things aren’t perfect. The ability to work through the imperfect is critical to our well being. That kind of strength is what helps us to survive.
Change is inevitable like death and taxes. The change may be as small as rain instead of sunshine but it is change. As we grow we need to learn coping skills. Without them we are set for a major fall. I am sure that all loving parents would wish that there would be no major upheavals in the lives of their children. No failures. But that is not reality.
Too often we want to save them. Cushion them from their mistakes and make the problems go away. Unfortunately, this is the wrong path. If we don’t learn coping skills when we are young then we have no experience when things go wrong. I have known parents who covered every mistake made by their children. As the children reached their teens the mistakes became bigger and harder to deal with. Some mistakes even ended with the teen going to jail.
We must learn how to cope early and keep on learning our entire life. Each bump in the road teaches us how to handle the next. We learn how to take detours and keep on going. We may suffer in the process but we survive and can use our knowledge to help the next person on the road.
Well, another day has gone by. Family issues have been there for one day. The things that can’t be fixed are still there. There is nothing to do about them. Obsessing about them doesn’t help. Worrying doesn’t fix them. Life moves on and we have a choice. We can move on with it and solve the things we can solve and or just fall down into the dark hole of depressions and anxiety. That really doesn’t seem like a choice.
This is true of most things in life. We often have a choice and may not want to choose. We don’t want to move away from the things that are causing us pain. We’d rather wallow. Wallowing requires less energy. Staying in place doesn’t call for work.
As I grow older I have done this kind of thing enough that most of the time I realize it is really easier to move on. That’s where the wisdom with age comes in. I used to be the world’s worst procrastinator but over the years I have learned that it is easier to tackle things right up front and get them over with. That leaves you with the easy stuff. It is a win-win.
The prayer from AA sums it up really well: God, grant me the Serenity, to accept the things I can not change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.
The really tricky part is the wisdom to know the difference. May God grant us discernment to do that.
Each moment that we live we deal with feelings. They are part of our everyday life. We are never without them. Our emotions set the tone for our function and how we experience each day. Our emotions influence our lives. There is never a moment when we are emotionless. There are people who have little emotion but they are deemed abnormal.
When I get up in the morning my feelings about the day will influence how the day goes. Even though I may start out feeling down about the day I can help the day get better by consciously deciding to change how I feel.
Usually when I feel down I just want to slop around in my PJ’s and do as little as possible. I have discovered that if I make the effort to take a shower, put on decent clothes and make an effort to look nice that I feel better. It may take work but it is worth it. At least for me how I look with influence how I feel.
When anxiety or depression crop up it is hard to make the effort to do anything. I just want to turn on a TV show and lose myself in it. If I really push myself and get dressed and go out to be with people I can lift myself up out of that mood—-at least for awhile. I can sometimes even forget what had me so down.
Our lives are not only impacted by what we feel but also by what we do. Sometimes it is agony to pull yourself up and get moving but it can help. How we look also influences how others react to us. If I am in sweat pants and have a hangdog expression then that is how I will be perceived. The times when I can make that change have a tremendous impact on my feelings. There are times when we can’t get the oomph needed but we need to keep on trying. Each time we win is a plus and increases the chance that we can do it the next time.
Today is my husband’s birthday. He turned 80 years old. He can hardly believe it and neither can I. Time flies. It is hard to believe that in June we will have been married 55 years. It is so funny to think back to the 1960’s and it seems like yesterday.
Things were so different then. We did have color TV but no cell phones. Some people who were rich had car phones but they were bulky and the signal was erratic. We drove a 1962 Pontiac convertible. The windows rolled up with handles. The top did go up and down automatically. It did not have air conditioning. We lived in Army housing and sat out on the stoop at night to have fun with our neighbors. We had little extra money and our favorite thing to do was to play games or cards with friends. We only had one car.
We went to parties at the officer’s club and the dress code was strict. Men were not admitted at night without a tie and women always wore dresses. We did wear shorts and trousers at home or with friends. Bikinis were not seen at local swimming pools. People would have been shocked. Men never used “bad” language in front of women and no one ever used the “F” word.
Long distance calls cost money per minuet so the calls were short. Our communication was primarily face to face. We knew our neighbors and had volley ball games in the courtyard in front of our quarters.
Birth control pills were a new thing and there were questions about their safety since they were much stronger than the new ones. We could talk to our next door neighbors through the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. and my husband and the guy nest door had fun conversations while shaving in the morning.
Life seemed simpler then. We talked a lot with friends. We shared meals that we made ourselves and played games rather than watch TV. We spent more time with friends than we do now. These memories are fun to recall.
However, everything was not perfect. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Blacks were suffering major discrimination. LSD was one of the drugs of choice. Everything was not idyllic. It was time moving away from the simpler 1950’s into the chaotic 60’s. My husband was later to spend two years in Viet Nam.
When we deal with memories we can choose which ones we want and disregard the others.
Today I realized that some things in my life are changing. Tomorrow I finish my last co-mediation and will be flying on my own. It took a long time since life intervened but it is here. Some of the waiting is over. Also some things seem to be changing in other spots in my life. My anxiety is at minimum…at least for now. I seem to be at peace.
I am anxious for a dear friend who is struggling with a sick husband. It makes me realize how elusive peace is. I think too often we don’t even realize when peace comes. We can’t turn away from our focus on ourselves and the problems that life brings. Peace can be elusive. We reach the point where we don’t even recognize it..we don’t recognize it.
My life is comfortable. I am not starving, or homeless. I do not have a fatal illness. I have friends, family. My life is stable. Yes, I can spend time fighting my own demons but I need to concentrate more on the good things. I do life in a measure of peace. I need to get it.
Pay attention to the things you have and not to what you don’t have. We all have struggles….some more than others…but most of us do have something good in our lives. Find it! Find that good and concentrate on it. See it when there is peace.
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
Thank him every day for the good things.