“And I am deeper in my hole and beginning to be buried by shame. It’s dark. It’s scary. It’s physically and mentally painful – and it’s an all too familiar home. I’ve visited it many times.”
It’s a knot in my stomach so tight it feels like a medical emergency. It’s nausea that rises to the top of my throat and stays there. It’s migraine headaches that force me to stay in completely silent, dark rooms until the pain subsides.
Then there’s the fatigue. Chronic, horrible fatigue. The fatigue you get when you have an awful flu and then multiply it by 100. It’s not having the physical or mental ability to get out of bed. It’s having to take long naps during the day – not because I want to, but because my body is so exhausted I have no choice. It feels like no matter how much or how little I sleep, I will always be tired.
Then comes the mental fog. A fog that feels similar to recovering from a concussion. Every sentence, every word has to be thought about and sometimes I can’t think of the word. It’s knowing I have done something a thousand times, yet struggling to remember how to do it again.
On top of all of those things are over-riding feelings of shame and desperation.
“People are going to think I am just lazy and don’t want to work.”
“Why can’t I remember a simple word – I have a master’s degree!”
“Why am I not strong enough to stop this from happening?”
“Why is this happening again when I thought I was doing so well?”
Then add some of the things people say during those times.
“Why can’t you just let it go?”
“You need to take a job and keep it this time.”
“I see that your car hasn’t moved over the past week.”
“Why do you keep letting it affect you?”
And I am deeper in my hole and beginning to be buried by shame. It’s dark. It’s scary. It’s physically and mentally painful – and it’s an all too familiar home. I’ve visited it many times. Sometimes my visits are short and sometimes they are much longer, but I am always the sole resident. My time there is never productive. I am well aware of this – and the guilt of that makes it even darker. Yet, I struggle to walk out and close the door behind me. Sometimes it’s the feeling of failure I can’t let go of. Maybe that’s where I deserve to be. Sometimes it’s the perceptions of others that paralyze me in place. I can’t face a world where people think I am weak, lazy and unstable.
I am residing in that home right now. Sometimes I look out the window and smile and laugh before remembering where I am. At least I can look out the window now and have those moments of joy and happiness because there have been times when this house didn’t even have windows. Over time, with hard work and epiphanies, the windows were not only installed, but have become larger and larger.
Now when I visit, I realize that’s exactly what it is, a visit, and I focus on those larger windows. I still struggle. The door out is still sometimes hard to open. But now my stay has sunlight and moments of joy mixed in. My focus once shutting that door, is on making that stay a more positive experience next time.
Photo: Flickr – Ross Griff