Tonight I received a call informing me that a family in our community lost a parent to suicide. Sadness doesn’t begin to describe my feelings for them. When I told my husband, of course he felt the same. In the course of our conversation about this, he made this comment that so many people make.
“No matter how bad I feel, I just can’t imagine it getting to the point that I would do that to my family.”
There is very real truth is those words. He can’t imagine it. Although my husband has his own heavy emotions and struggles to carry, he has never walked the path of someone who lives with severe clinical depression. He literally cannot fathom the world through that unimaginable filter. If a person has not faced the darkest of nights or wrestled to the depth of their soul about the value of their own life, they have no way of comprehending the torturous confusion and pain of those moments.
A person who committes suicide did not have a clear perception of their reality. His thoughts were terribly twisted. He couldn’t recognize the tidal wave of devastation that his death would bring. He didn’t see that his mind was creating vicious lies, and he couldn’t understand that his life was precious and invaluable. He truly could not comprehend that he was and still is needed more than he could ever believe.
All that person knew was that he wanted the pain to end, and that he didn’t want to hurt the people in his life anymore. He had no ability to perceive that his leaving his family would create a deep void in their hearts. Although they would heal to some extent over a long, long time, that place in their hearts would forever remain jagged and raw. His presence will never be forgotten, and he will always be loved.
If you are fighting this battle in your mind, do not believe the lies that depression creates. It poisons your thoughts and tells you that you have no value. That confusion feels so real but it is the cruelest of tricks. Don’t you dare ever believe those lies. Never ever ever.
Your mind will not stay in darkness forever. You must continue to hold on whenever you most want to let go. Your life has value beyond measure, and the people in your world need you more than you can fathom. Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be worth living, and despite what you seem to see all around you, everyone is fighting some kind of battle.
If you struggle with loneliness, self-worth issues, fear, guilt, or overall chronic imperfection, you are landing solidly on the scale of normal humanity. You aren’t alone in this and you don’t have to be alone in depression either.
Speak up. Ask for help. And hold on another day. And if needed, hold on again. Just don’t give in and don’t give up.
You’ve got this, and we’ve got each other. You are here for a reason. Give your life a chance to prove that to you.
You matter and your life is precious. Fight to keep it. Always.
My heart and prayers are with every person who has lost someone to this battle. Please know that it was never your fault, and it wasn’t the fault of the person who committed suicide either. Depression is a vicious disease.
***Please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline if you feel like you are at the end of your rope and truly can’t hold on much longer. If you are seriously considering ending your life, you desperately need to speak to someone who can help clear the blackness and the lies that are you can’t control in that moment. Call 1-800-273-8255 and please please please get help.
Well it appears that I have moved past the madness stage of my homeschool debate. In truth it’s been less of a debate and more of total parental turmoil with a steaming pile of mama uncertainty / pre-emptive potential poor choice guilt. Typically I refer to all that as “Monday morning” but this past week decided that this was to be more of a Thursday crack of dawn gig.
However I have now moved away from the madness in exchange for a more methodological approach. Rather than spewing another charming head-spinning diatribe, I’m going to take a more pragmatic and comparative approach for this go round. The emotions haven’t vanished, but they aren’t pulling a Thelma & Louise cliff moment either.
Some of the primary reasons that have led to my mental mama turmoil with regard to our public school experience are as follows:
I’m completely flopping at figuring out how to use the school’s labyrinthine abundance of technological resources. Think of it as an onion – layers within layers within layers that are have proven more than capable of bringing me to tears.
I have been extremely concerned for years about the way our children are consistently taught concepts well beyond their chronological aptitude and at a pace that allows minimal opportunity for mastery.
The material is geared toward helping children do well on our state’s brand of standardized testing. Ironically I am a proponent of standardized testing, but the current tests are nothing like those that we took years ago. To further complicate the problem, they are not reflective of the material or testing style utilized by college entry exams such as the SAT or ACT.
There are way too many children in the classes. In one of my son’s classes last year, a student literally had to sit at the teacher’s desk because there weren’t enough seats. Beyond that, when a teacher has maybe forty minutes to convey heavy concepts to almost forty kids in one room, there’s no possible way that every child will be able get what they need out of the lessons.
The teachers and administration are unable to execute significant discipline for fear of legal or social media backlash. The bad behavior that happens in the best of schools everyday is astonishing, and no one seems to have the power to reel it in. A teacher or administrator never knows when a child or parent might be filming the scene with a phone that could be posted online moments later. A sentence or action can be taken completely out of context or a story can be entirely falsified. Nevertheless, the news and social media will believe whatever they want and take off running. It’s terrifying that so many people are willing to blindly believe a story that they neither witnessed nor researched.
And here are a few of my key concerns with regard to homeschooling my wild ones:
I work out of the house but I’m seriously busy with my job. I’m talking full-time and then some. And my job isn’t optional. It’s bill-paying house-keeping kinda necessary. Also I like to work.
Although I’m an excellent teacher when it comes to helping my children understand confusing concepts, that does not mean that I am a patient person. Not. At. All.
I’m afraid that it will suck. All of it. Really. I’m terrified that I won’t follow through, that the kids will be whiney and bitchy about having to do their work, and that I will just do it all wrong. I worry that the limited time that I will have to work with them after my own work hours have passed will be insufficient to achieve educational success.
I worry that they won’t have sufficient social interaction to prepare them for life in the post-Mom and Dad world.
I’m afraid that they will survive on macaroni and goldfish and waste their brains on endless inane YouTube memes when I’m not paying attention (which will be all the time as I will be working while I’m here).
My biggest worry of all has been that no matter what direction we ultimately decide to go, we might be making the wrong choice. That fear has kept me in perpetual worry and our family in the same stressful school situation year after year.
I’m tired of worrying about what I can’t predict. Is it possible that I will flop at homeschooling? Yes. Could we discover firsthand that it definitely isn’t a good fit for our family? Absolutely. But those aren’t the only possibilities.
Could it be a better choice for our children? Maybe. Is it possible that they might learn something different and we might prove up to the parenting challenge? You bet.
It could go either way. But if I remain unwilling to step up, to tell my fears to take a hike, and to make a change while there’s still time to make a difference in my kids’ lives, I’ll never know. And let’s face it – if homeschooling is a mega fail for our tidbits, all we have to do is re-enroll the kids back in their normal schools once more. At worst they will miss a couple weeks of new material plus a couple more months of standardized testing overload. Seems like the world will keep spinning either way.
So we are seriously evaluating a program that utilizes a combination of classroom schooling led by various instructors along with satellite learning at home. Our hope is that this will allow our kids to have necessary social interaction while also receiving instruction from teachers (who ideally won’t have investor reports due at end of day but who do have a higher level of patience).
As my mother has said to me over and over again, life is not set is stone. If you make a choice that doesn’t turn out as you hoped, make a new choice.
We can’t allow fear to govern our lives. When we are too afraid to make different choices because of our fear of the unknown, we may miss incredible new experiences that can only come with leaving our comfort zones.
Get out of your own way, and allow life to happen. Reach for your faith, and hold onto hope. And most of all, remember that life isn’t set in stone.
Well another couple of months have rolled by, so it’s only natural that I’m finding myself facing another “To homeschool or to keep doing the same public school” mental calisthenics routine once more. I have performed this obsessive analysis repetitively for years but have yet to make the move.
Please note that in my pre-kids / pre-public school life, homeschool landed solidly in my category of ‘Things That Immediately Caused Me to Scoff and Roll My Eyes’ because seriously – what kind of granola helicopter parent would think that they could do better than an entire school system. Of course the best part of judging other people’s choices that you can’t understand in that moment is we often end up with one heck of a personal lesson of our own that makes it crystal clear how much you did not see beforehand.
To be clear, I’m not trying to sell anyone else on the merits of homeschool vs. private school or public school. That’s a personal choice, and all of the options have massive pros and cons. I’m not seeking approval on whatever route we ultimately decide to follow either. You are totally welcome to do whatever you feel works best for your wild teenies, and we will figure out what we believe is best for our monkeys. My thought is that we each mess up our kids in our own unique way despite our collective best intentions to make 100% awesome choices for them.
I’m just so fed up with facing the same school crapola for the thousandth time. Here are a handful of the issues that have my mind in high gear once more. The reading assignments that I see are laced with language and concepts that are way beyond the kids’ years. In the world of math, the teachers are forced to blow through countless concepts at a furious clip. The kids are never given sufficient time to gain a solid grasp on anything before blasting to the next item on the requirements list. One of my favorite school frustrations is that they are no longer taught how to read cursive or sign their names. No joke. Most current high school graduates literally write their names in block letters as their form of signature because that’s the only way they know how to write. Then there’s the overzealous commitment to tech. 95% of assignments are completed on the school computers so we don’t see most of them. Some concepts are easier for some kids on paper. Algebra anyone??? Also we receive several email notifications about other tests and assignments on a daily basis (assuming that that information is added within the same week or two or three depending on the instructor), but good luck trying to find out what your child should be completing or studying. If I want to check their assignments, I have to filter through daily emails from some teachers, comb through another set of email notifications for each child that then takes me to a separate site with six individual teacher pages with additional subcategories (per teacher and per child), and then also review further separate emails from the school itself. We are bombarded every single day, and the plain truth is that I can’t keep up with it all.
If I felt like my kids were soaring, I would roll with it, but they aren’t. Not at all. You would never know it by looking at their grades, but my kids are so amazingly sharp and extremely intelligent. If they are taught concepts in ways that they can understand with effective practice material, they can learn anything. But their grades are okay at best and unbelievably bad at times. This is not a ‘My kids must have all A’s!’ issue. Honestly I don’t give a rat’s a$$ about that. If a C is your honest best, I’ll take it. But my kids are bombing tests about concepts that they understand with ease once we review them for a few minutes at home. They are losing points on assignments that they somehow forget to submit because they get overwhelmed with it all, too. The kids don’t seem to know what needs to be done when, and they look at me with blank stares when I ask what happened or what they need to do next. My kids make mistakes, but it feels like they are getting lost in the shuffle to the point of disappearing.
And don’t even get me started on the standardized district and state tests. Talk about Crapfest Central. You truly wouldn’t believe some of the questions that they throw at these children. I wish I had an example, but it’s now past midnight and my rant doesn’t need any additional fuel. I don’t care how well read, mathematically inclined, or test savvy you think you are, I assure you that some of the questions would leave you asking what in the name of all that is holy would lead someone to answer Question # x with the answer that was deemed to be the ‘best right answer’ for the scenario. That best answer situation is actually a very real problem in these exams. That means that there is more than one genuinely correct answer in the available multiple choices but the test taker has to make a guess about what the test writer’s subjective opinion. Our teachers have told us repeatedly that they often don’t know the correct option and consequently have to confirm the supposed best option before explaining the answers to the children. This has been an issue we have faced since elementary. Cra. Zy.
There are only two monster speedbumps in my furious desire to get them away from their current setup and into a more rational and pragmatic school environment. My full-time job and social concerns for them.
I’m a really good teacher. Although my kids could bend your ear for days with countless terrible Mom tales, they would openly sing my mad teaching skill praises. Regardless, that doesn’t mean that the teaching happens in two minutes. It takes time to go through a concept. Even if it was just 15 minutes per subject per day, that’s a serious amount of daily time per child. Although I work out of the house, I am seriously busy during those days. My job is not optional as our bills have yet to start funding themselves, and the truth is that I enjoy working. I’m good at my job and my brain would go bonkers without the mental stimulation.
It’s possible that I could teach the kids after my work day ended and on the weekends, but what would they do during my working hours? Would they get into ‘The Ellen Show’ or become obsessed with Plinko on ‘The Price is Right’? Would they blog about their crazy working mom and her obsession with blogging about school? Could they potentially spend that time doing independent study and completing additional projects or would they just nap and zone out on mindless memes on YouTube? Are there local groups that they could join for several hours a few days a week to learn more concepts while also killing YouTube meme-time and developing a sense of community and teamwork? And would that solve the second part of my worry equation with regard to their developmental need for similar-age social interaction? I do believe that our children could highly benefit from a social environment that was smaller with more direct interaction. Yes that can absolutely be a double-edged sword, but the truth is that we are already facing multiple razor-sharp edges where we are now. Those are stories for another day, but as I said before, there are problems no matter where you look.
How can I possibly make any of this work? How can I fit something non-traditional like homeschool into our double full-time working parent home? Is that even possible? The stark reality is that I just don’t know the answer. Not at all. But I am certain that I want our children to be free from the nonsensical restrictions that come from ridiculous attendance policies, a national obsession with faulty standardized tests, and an inadequate commitment to having kids grasp the basics before dashing to topics far beyond what is age appropriate.
I feel so strongly that there must be another option out there that would provide a better educational fit for our family. There has to be some way that would work for us. The standards are no longer meeting our standards. Something has to change, or maybe the real story is that someone has to change. I have the strong suspicion that the someone in question here will be me. Should be interesting either way. At least we have that going for us. 😉
In my former life – pre-kids, pre-marriage, pre-adulting – I would decide that I wanted to go somewhere on a whim and be headed that way within a few days or less. I love to see new places and experience new cultures, so traveling has always been great fun for me. In my current life, experiencing new cultures consists of visiting the latest Vietnamese restaurant that recently opened in an area strip center. You know. It’s the one by the 40th nail shop, dry cleaners, and Subway that can be found littered on every corner of Suburbia U.S.A.
I have an innate sense of wanderlust and have always wanted to visit a million different places on the planet. Unfortunately, there are two million reasons that stop that from happening. Work, school, schedules. Obligations, family, money. Reality. The other problem is that I work out of the house. While this is a huge blessing, it can also be very tough. While the rest of the family spends the day at the office or school, I remain here. Working out of your house can be extremely helpful, but it also means I spend almost all of my time here. I work long hours and don’t run out for long lunches. I don’t have time to go shopping or hangout with other moms in the area. Sometimes it’s can be very lonely. And when my work day ends, all I want to do is see my family and go out somewhere away from the house with them. However as they have been away all day, they naturally look forward to unwinding at home after their school and work days are over. I feel guilty if I go out without them, but I feel stir crazy if I stay home.
I want to jump in my car and drive for hours and hours to anywhere different and interesting. I want to plan trips to every corner of the (cornerless) globe. I have yet to see the Egyptian Pyramids, climb Machu Picchu, swim the Great Barrier Reef, or twirl in dizzy circles like a nun soon to be nanny on the slopes of the Alps. I still dream of photographing the incredible wildlife of Galapagos, making faces at the big noggins attached to submerged bodies at Easter Island, see the Northern Lights in person, or sit on the ocean floor as huge manta rays swim around me at a night dive in Hawaii. Seeing the beauties of the world through my phone screen is not enough for me. I want to breathe it all in. To take those journeys. To experience those wonders. To do more everything. And I want my family by my side the whole way.
But they usually want to stay close to home. And beyond that, short of having a long-lost unknown relative who has recently opted to pop a random massive check in the mail, that’s simply not possible in my life today nor will it be happening tomorrow either. It will be back to work, school, schedules. More obligations, family, money. Life as usual within these walls.
I’m blessed. Truly. I do know this. I love my family beyond measure, and I’m genuinely grateful for all of the realities that we are required to tend to each day. I just wish that I could either find a way to break out of the walls every now and then or learn how to fully accept living the vast majority of my hours within them.
I don’t believe that anyone should discard their dreams based on a moment’s perceived reality, but I can’t see how to surmount the realities at this point in my life either. The good news is that I know that life never moves in a straight line and incredible and wonderful surprises can appear when we least expect them.
Although I am feeling constricted in this moment, I ultimately choose to trust that the universe has bad ass plans in the works for my crew and me. I remind myself to breathe in the good in all of the moments and seek the magic in the smallest of our experiences.
Anything can happen and there are countless impossible possibilities that become spectacular realities every day. So this is my official shout out to the universal miracle request line. Bring it on baby because we are here and ready whenever you are!
We all have down days, and some of those may almost drag us under. We don’t know how to work through the emotions so maybe we get a loose-lipped and dark and twisty with our feelings on social media. It happens. However there a delicate tipping point you can hit once you begin to feel validated by the negative attention. And if you don’t get out of your own way, you will immediately be setting yourself up to become your own worst enemy.
I posted the picture and sentiment above on Instagram earlier today. I love the memory of that beautiful morning, and I genuinely believe what I wrote there. After adding the photo, I wanted to see if any other posts or quotes spoke to my spirit, so I searched under the hashtags #loneliness and #depression. Biggest. Mistake. Ever.
I felt so frustrated at the endless barrage of posts that reflected outright self-sabotage and overt negative attention guzzling. It was even more disconcerting to see the number of followers and people leaving comments that directly cheered on the “bravery” (a.k.a. blatant unhealthy negativity).
So many entries said something to the effect of “I choose to be alone” or “I feel so lonely and don’t want anyone in my life” and included the #loneliness and #depression hashtags in the posts. In return they received hundreds or thousands of likes, e-high fives, “I agree” responses, and similar additional hashtags added into the comments.
What a complete crapfest of a story. This may sound ice cold but that is a personal pity party that has been posted for public approval. You don’t love to be alone if you feel the need to write about it on social media. If you must post about your love for loneliness and hashtag #loneliness for your followers on a platform with a billion other users, you are seeking out negative attention and feeding the monster once more.
People talked about how a single word from another destroyed their lives. I considered (but decided against) leaving the comment, “So how is that even possible? Is it like 42 for the universe, but instead in this case it’s a secret code word spoken only uttered the life-smashers?” Again. Total crap. If you are allowing one word to take you down, your problem is not the other person who spoke it. I don’t care who they are. No others have that power unless you choose to believe that they are right.
As for the bystanders (people leaving likes and cheers in the comments), how is liking and encouraging those posts you helping that person off their dark bandwagon either. The intentions may be sincere, but what message are we sending?
These writers and artists are brilliant beautiful people, but they are unconsciously sacrificing their opportunities to bring in more joy in exchange for more daily likes and potential followers. It’s a crappy trade my friends. No number of likes on a social media post will ever translate into sustainable love for yourself in real life. Trying to win over the fickle short attention span of the world of social media is a fruitless chase. Aim for winning over your image of yourself instead. The odds are better and the results will hold much much longer.
Maybe you don’t land ten zillion comments or likes for being happy, or maybe you don’t even get two. So effing what! You will still feel better when you get out of your own way. Your mind will find more clarity and balance when you validate the positive parts of your life and yourself. As I said before, focus on what you want in your life instead of celebrating what you are trying to escape.
This is a tough love post intended for people who operate with these behavior patterns as their standard, not rough periods here and there. We all have those. My hope is that my abrupt words will jar someone – any individual person at all – into recognizing that they are poisoning their own water if they continue to operate this way.
I didn’t write this post from a self-righteous place of judgement nor did my words come from emotions that I couldn’t directly comprehend. I struggled deeply with depression for decades, I embraced the blackness and believed the lies my mind fed me, and I barely escaped that period of my life alive. I sincerely believe that divine intervention saved me, and though I wouldn’t change my past, I would not wish for anyone in the world to experience the kind of pain I endured.
There are many elements of loneliness, depression, and mental health struggles that we cannot control. Don’t sacrifice the parts that you can change for the better. As you have likely heard, happiness is an inside job. If you can’t figure out how to find it, maybe start by trying to recognize what you might be doing to blockade it.
When you are in that place, that dark inescapable place where depression traps your thoughts and emotions, you feel like you are surrounded in blackness. There are no doors to open. No exits to be found. You’re trapped there until the lies of your mind go quiet and the treacherous confusion clears.
There’s no ON/OFF switch for depression nor is there a quick fix formula to keep it away forever. Is there anything that you can realistically do to make it stop?
Without question you have to speak up and ask for professional help. Beyond that, I believe that one of the most important steps you can take when you are struggling with depression is to ask yourself if you are feeding the monster. Are you helping the downward spiral spin even more furiously?
Those of us who have struggled with depression often do so in the shadows, but we may reveal our hurts in less visible ways. Some people write anonymous blogs that focus on their heaviest of thoughts and emotions. I have read extensive poetry written by people who either love Edgar Allan Poe’s dark style or (more likely) are struggling with their own mental health challenges. There are countless art pieces celebrating the dark night of the soul, and you could pack any home to the ceilings with books about the hopeless feelings of those suffering with depression, OCD, severe anxiety, thoughts of suicide and attempts to take one’s life.
We commend the bravery of those willing to speak their blackest truths as so many continue to stay silent about their mental health struggles in the public eye. We celebrate those who are able to create tangible evidence of those intangible mental shackles.
But it is really healthy to create or celebrate that? From my non-professional off-kilter and utterly imperfect viewpoint, I would say yes and no.
We can’t bottle up the immeasurable pain, slap a smile on our faces, and “fake it till you make it” all away. We need to be able to be honest about what we are going through if we are going to find a way to healing. We benefit from finding a community of people who may be facing different challenges but who can relate to the pain of feeling broken, unworthy, or unwell. Giving voice or visual to our struggles reminds others that they aren’t alone in those times, and we receive the same benefit when we see it from another.
However it takes a very sinister turn once that becomes the predominant or, much much worse, the only voice we have. When we start to focus entirely on hopelessness, giving up, perpetual loneliness, being shattered, feeling worthless, or wanting to die, we poison our thoughts. We energize the darkness and validate the confusion and pain. Those thoughts that dig at the mind become more and more real, and our ability to push them away from center stage decreases.
Attention is attention, and negative attention still fills that desire. Are you being supportive of someone who is struggling or are you feeding the monster? Are you giving voice to your pain or are you inviting it closer?
One of my children is an excellent writer who sometimes drifts into Emo Land. I think it’s good for him to work through the pain sometimes with the writing, but it concerns me when his teachers tell me how much they love or admire his willingness to share those feelings so extensively. I know my child, and this kid lives for teacher praise (nerd!) (but at least he comes by that honestly). If his instructor goes gaga over dark twisty, that theme and tone will pervade his writing. As I’ve seen him run with the “yay for your sad compositions” bait in the past, I now make a point to talk to his writing teachers to ask them to focus their high praise on alternate styles of compositions. I also try to give my child some glimpse into the importance of looking for the light rather than taking a dive into the darkness. It’s too easy to get stuck on that path of despair. I know this first-hand because I was there for many years, too.
I struggled with suicide and depression since I was very young. My negative thoughts and feelings became a natural part of everything that I composed including silly stuff like poems I compiled from refrigerator word magnets.
My husband (who was my then newish boyfriend at that time) landed in the relationship emotional intelligence hall of fame when he read some of my dark twisty fridge masterpieces and responded with his unfiltered and resounding review of, “You need to cut that sh*t out now.”
His response was utterly jarring to me. I said nothing aloud in return, but my mind screamed. Didn’t he see how deeply troubled I was? How could he be so cold about my pain? Why would he be so callous about my inner battle that he could never comprehend? What a massive jerk / soon to be ex-boyfriend!
But then I thought about his words. And then I thought about my own. What I was saying on my poor unsuspecting fridge? Why was I writing that stuff? What benefit was I getting from inviting the darkness in and why was I coating my major appliances with feelings that I was trying to escape? In that moment, I realized exactly what I was doing.
I was feeding the monster.
I never told him that he was right (a tradition that I continue to uphold whenever possible in our marriage to this day), but I did take down the festival of sadness as soon as he was out of view. He wasn’t asking me to pretend that I was happy when I wasn’t, but he didn’t have any interest in my parading around that level of negativity like it was fine art either. Until he pointed it out, I did not recognize how that I was validating and emphasizing the very feelings that I was trying to shake. I had been viciously chumming the water while simultaneously praying for the sharks to leave.
This is a tremendous problem on social media. If you have ever searched for #depression, #mentalhealth, or #suicide, you can find horribly dark and sad posts and photos with thousands and thousands of likes. They aren’t focused on healing. They are focused on pain. And to be clear once more, I’m not saying that it’s wrong to feel that way or even that it’s wrong to talk, write, or create art about mental health struggles and crises. But don’t go out of your way to embrace and celebrate them. Don’t cover your fridge in sadness and don’t spend your hours devouring and liking the pain of others.
If you want to heal, look for those who talk focus on getting better. If you want to step out of the darkness, look for the light instead. If the negativity of the news is making you feel hurt or angry, change the frickin’ channel or better yet turn it off altogether and go for a walk. And perhaps most importantly of all, if your fridge is turning all dark and twisty, invest in twelve dollars worth of sasquatch-themed word magnets. They are worth every penny, and that is one monster that you are welcome to feed (no offense intended to Bigfoot or lovers of said scientifically unsubstantiated ginormous critter).
Always remember that whatever you take in feeds some part of you. If you want to feel better, nourish the good and offer that to your heart, mind, and soul. Your worse case scenario is twelve dollars down with a kick ass set of fridge magnets waiting in the wings.
Don’t get in your own way. You are healthier, stronger, and more incredible than you possibly know. Look for that and celebrate it. You got this honey. It’s time to let the real you shine.
Big hugs to all.
Jo Price 🙂
The images below will take you straight to Amazon if you feel like jazzing up your fridge. The sasquatch pack is hilarious, but they are even more fun if you add the Lumberjack addition to the mix. If you do buy these, please take pics of your art. We fall out laughing everytime we see these. 😉
A dear friend of mine has a daughter who just began her new life at college. It’s not in Houston, but it’s only about an hour’s drive away. No biggie. She’s a good kid, a strong student, and the type of person whom you know will be successful. Life has dealt her some very hard kicks, but she is resilient and will not be defeated by the adversity that confronts her.
But she is drowning in this new world of college. The days have barely begun, and all she can focus on is getting back home. Her separation anxiety is off the charts, and she is missing her family to the point of being locked in place and utterly inconsolable. She feels like she is going under and sheer panic has taken hold.
I understand this feeling far too well. My husband and I went on a trip overseas many years ago. While we were there, I badgered him into taking the hotel’s Cliff’s Notes version of scuba (a.k.a “An Inappropriately Brief Summary of How Not to Die While Swimming Deep in the Ocean”). An 18 year old trainer gave us the ten minute speech (that in reality should have been explained in a classroom over multiple days of training), slapped some tanks on our backs, and plopped us into the resort pool.
I. Freaked. Out.
We are talking a complete and total meltdown. Massive claustrophobia. Unimaginable terror about being unable to get enough oxygen. Horrific fear about drowning. All of it. I was very literally hyperventilating into my regulator and tears were streaming down my face inside my mask. It was absolutely terrifying.
My husband had been swimming a few feet away from me and immediately recognized that I was circling the mental drain. In his old soul wisdom, he knew that he had to intervene and proceeded to do something that truly saved me. He grabbed my shoulders, pushed me up out of the water, and said with a seriously annoyed tone, “Dude – Stand up.”
In my terror (a.k.a. complete doofus attack), I had literally forgotten that we were in the most shallow of shallow ends. Of a frickin pool. At a hotel.
The water was maybe 4 feet deep. Probably more like 3.
Embarrassing. So so embarrassing.
The anxiety attack was immediately gone only to be replaced by an “I’m a dumbass” attack. As I was too humiliated to continue showing my face above water, I dropped into the pool once more and of course knew from that point on that I was a-okay. Later that day I did a 40 foot dive without batting an eye. A couple of years and multiple certifications later, I went to almost 140 feet. But this isn’t about that kind of depth.
We sometimes feel like we are drowning in a flood of debilitating fear when we are in unfamiliar surroundings. We lose our sense of safety and control, and we begin to spiral wildly. The trick is to recognize when the depth of terror is of our own making. Sometimes it takes another person to jar us out of our anti-fantasy, but ideally we learn to find a way to recognize the delusion so we can then snap ourselves out of it.
Change is terrifying, and staring into the unknown rattles us all. But more often than not, the water is nowhere near as deep as we imagine it to be. In most cases, we truly just need to remember to stand up.
The floodwaters of anxiety cannot be allowed to overpower you or steal your hope and joy. Stand up so you can see who is standing by your side in support. Stand up and be willing to distinguish what is a true threat versus what is simply unknown. Stand up and realize that you are okay in this moment and that you can release the panic that distracts your mind and obscures your purpose.
And after you have regained your confidence and maybe even laughed at the comedy of your overreaction, you can dive in once more and at last begin to see the world of wonders just waiting to be discovered. ❤️