We look like any two stay-at-home women enjoying the rare cool morning of this summer. It is nine-thirty and we are sitting on her white-railed southern front porch, breeze drifting by, sipping our iced tea. Passers-by may assume we’re chatting about our children, plans for the weekend or any topic that is normal for “women like us”. In fact, we get together to share and support each other in our decades long struggles with mental illness; anxiety and depression. No one would guess it – laughing, sipping tea, care-free and content looking. Looks can be deceiving.
Months go by and I feel and function normally(whatever that is anyhow). Then like a monster in the closet that jumps from hiding I recognize a mood, a fear, a shift in my head. All sense of safety and normality is obliterated. The illness has not been cured, just resting and building power to strike. “I cannot do this again. I’m too tired. I’m too old. It will never end so why try?” Defeated before the battle begins.
No beauty. No joy. No Hope.
It is not the end, of course. You knew that because you have people or issues in your life that bring the same reaction of “I can’t go through this again”. No matter how tired, how discouraged, how impossible it seems to conquer this enemy, I must persevere. Eventually the emotional shock wears off and I appraise the seriousness and depth of the recurrence. I bring out the tools I have used before and face the monster again. Each time I fight the battle I get stronger because I have fought and won before. It is critical to remember victories. Like any chronic illness or recurring event it is exhausting and dramatically interfers with life. Life does that in some way to everyone. Victory is not in the healing. Victory is in the character we build as we continue to fight.
Beauty is found in our willingness to share our struggle
Joy is found in developing perseverance
Hope grows in remembering our victories and expecting more