Depression, Juggling, and Friendly Pigs

I know it isn’t Thursday… Easter totally threw me off… yeah that’s it.

Brace yourselves folks, this is gonna be a bumpy ride as they say…

I have what they call a clinical depression. It can be classified as bi-polar type 2 where instead of swinging between manic and depressive I just swing between middle of the road and depressive. This was from a combination of my genetic make-up and a brain injury I sustained between age 16-17. On top of that I also developed Agoraphobia specifically social anxiety in my early 20’s. There is my mental health in a nutshell.

The last 2 years I have been relatively happy and stable hanging out in the middle of the road with most people. Just recently, like the past month, I have noticed that I am beginning to swing back down into a low period. The previous low lasted a year. It sucked, not only for me but for my family. We all made it thought without scars and I have my excellent councilors (especially Gail Szakula) and my parent’s teaching and faith from my youth (birth to 28, more on that in later posts) to thank.

As I have been railing against the downward slide, an image came to mind. It is an image that I have asked my husband, Steve, to illustrate for me in his most expressive stick-figure-ese. It isn’t a perfect metaphor, just some imaginary scenario that felt appropriate to my life.

stick-boatPigStormJerk

That’s me, there in the boat, juggling all my responsibilities, hobbies, family, and health-spoons. We all have to do this. And we all have to do this while riding a unicycle, because life is unpredictable and spending time on our work and play is like riding a unicycle. You have to pay attention and plan ahead if you are going to stay balanced and upright. On top of that we have to do all of this perched in the bow of the boat in the middle of a lake. Usually the lake is pretty placid, but placid or not it is hard to balance in the bow of a boat without help.

Thankfully, there is help. Our trusty pig, who balances out our boat and keeps us company. For me, my husband and step-kids and the family I grew up with are there to help level my boat. The trouble for me is that there is more to it. See that jerk with the boulder on the shore? That would be my self-doubt, my fears, my paranoia, my anxiety, and my bad habits. He stands there with a pile of boulders waiting for the perfectly mean moment to throw one in the lake and make waves to toss my boat. He is there all the time, and though I have significantly lessened the amount of boulders he has to throw, I have not yet been able to get rid of him. Everyone has one of these guys, and they all suck.

This is normal for me; I guess you could call it sane. Spoons in the air, helpful pig by my side, relatively well balanced on this silly unicycle. And then the depression starts to grow. It grows from a chill wind that threatens bad weather to a full blown angry storm. And it rages over my little lake, tossing waves over the sides of the boat. Has it come to stay for a few days, a month, a year? I don’t know, I never know. And that darn boulder guy still tosses rocks at me. I will keep going. I know it is a cycle and that means the lows cannot last forever. As long as I keep doing my part with medication, mindfulness, and faith, the sun will shine on me again.

I am still peddling on this unicycle, still juggling, still afloat, and my faithful pig is still cheering me on. So what is the point of all this? Two things really; I have never been shy about letting people know that I am clinically depressed, but I usually don’t let anyone in further than that. Not even my Husband. And the communication over this silly metaphor with my dearest Steve and sharing this post with all of you is me taking a step away from isolation. The second thing is for the sheer humor of it. Humor is the only thing that gets me through, it is the most attractive thing to me about my husband and is the attribute I love the most in my friends.

I hope this made you laugh and if it made you think a little… well I hope they were good thoughts.

Carry on my friends. There is light at the end of the tunnel and you must cherish it when you get there. As the old saying goes, “This too shall pass.”

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