This is not the post I intended to write today. My fingers, however, ungraciously circumvented me to write about an uncomfortable topic and state of self. This isn't a narrative representative of everyone in every shape of mind, but perhaps best for those compatriots closest to where I am, who may relate, who might say, "YES. That."
There's a Something in me -- rather, a Somewhere -- I resist as it pulls me with blind centripetal force. This Somewhere lies just past the edge where I dangle a foot, lose my balance and fall... a just-over-the-cliff place.
The gravity here is inexplicably stronger than the place I resided in before I lose my footing, and it sucks me down flailing to its core. I let it for a while because during the falling part, I seldom notice I am falling. Until I land.
This Somewhere isn't quite a deep hole out of which I am thoroughly unable to climb, and I am not encased here within solid walls, though it sometimes feels that way. Instead, at my worst, I am enveloped by acrid, inky-black air that creates an opacity my senses cannot permeate for awhile.
Did I create this? The thought is shame, and it weighs me down.
I am not paralyzed, so I slog along. This "not-a-hole" has a mirror affixed to its smoky walls, and when I look into it, I see someone else. The collection of these elements are disorienting. My chest is heavy, my breathing fast -- as uneven as I am. My brain takes the shape of the murk that bogs me. I am accompanied by debilitating despair, or otherwise, simply, a sense of wading through my own nothingness. Everything I've built over the years from the best of me is at risk while I am here.
I'll lose, I tell myself. I'll lose and I'll spiral. I operate awash in the realm of three resounding words:
You are losing.
I don't seem to know how to climb right out right, even though I have before, and doing so should be easier each time, but in the moment it doesn't seem so. So I sit in the fog and consider it, thinking I'll be reestablished as before, back on solid ground, happy to go my way, yet I know this can't happen without muster and a hand.
Who I am before the fall is far more comfortable and befitting; the most like "me." She is the me people know. She is not a mask; her face is real. She is working the right path and celebrating her wins and brushing off her losses. There I am in motion and I operate with clarity. I am adept, and my movement is purposeful, clear, precise and quick. The products of this movement are orderly and sensical. I do more than keep up. I am effective. I am ahead. Normal. I carry more than my load in my professional trade, for instance, and I am proud of my talent and the work I do.
When writing, I write pieces that are crafted from my core, satisfactorily conveying whatever I intended. I wife my husband, I carry my weight in friendships and family. I add a sprinkle of my innate, unique character in what I do. I accomplish.
Now, the better stretches far outweigh the others. They remind me that I am fully able to reside there; that I can keep rising up and out and back again until I stop most of the falls for good. I made a decision that I would do anything within my power to stay out of the Somewhere, and involve people who know better than I do about the Somewheres, ledges and edges.
A recovering alcoholic or drug addict has to be vigilant for the rest of his days to survive and live a healthy, authentic life. That isn't my particular struggle, but one part of the solution is the same: constant vigilance and help, especially applicable to those with the proclivity to fall and listen to the wrong voices, as I sometimes do. I learn consistently how to navigate my way away from that damned ledge. I am getting better at this all the time.
I know there aren't tangible answers within this piece. I'm not a doctor. I can't tell you how to get better if you're suffering from anxiety, panic, clinical depression (as I am) or any emotional and/or mental illness that impedes you. I don't pretend I can fully understand anyone's path but my own. I do, however, see the familiar markings in others who have danced on the same ledges I've straddled, precariously dipping down, leaning into the Somewhere otherworld.
I also see that there's a really glorious tract of road we EACH share, no matter what our deal is, no matter what our diagnoses or misdiagnoses or issues may be. There are a set of truths I have come to know and keep in my pocket:
We may lose, but we aren't losers. We may lose our way, but we aren't forever lost. We can be forced to our knees, but we cannot be forced to remain there. I am learning to vehemently push back at the inner voice that tells me I am losing rather than reminds me of how much I still stand to gain.
I am not at home in the downward. Our lives are meant to be manageable. As long as I keep throwing a leg and an arm over to pull myself back to the other side as quickly and as fluidly as I can, I'll continue to emerge with three new words of truth in lieu of the lies:
You've got this.