Tag Archives: anxiety

A Lion Hunt…

Standard

Amazing photo captured by photographer Nicol Spinola Photography www.nicolspinolaphotography.com Thanks Nicol for sharing your amazing art with us!

I’m going on a Lion Hunt (I’m going on a Lion Hunt),

But I’m not afraid (I’m not afraid),

Cuz I’ve got my gun (I’ve got my gun),

Fifty bullets at my side (fifty bullets at my side),

I remember singing this as a small child.  Right from the start my heart would race and my head would swim in a sea of excitement and danger.  Then the leader would shout ‘Stop!’ and always at this point in the song, I would be filled with a small but palpable panic.  What is the obstacle going to be?  I don’t want to be stuck!  I gotta figure out how to get outta’ here!

Can’t go over it!

Can’t go under it!

Gotta go through it.

And on and on the song would go.  This band of five and six year olds lion hunting, would go around, under, over and through obstacles in order to find themselves a lion!  If you remember there was a climax to the song where the participants were told to RUN because a lion was on the move.  I don’t really remember whether we ever got to shoot the lion or what, I just remember that when our leader would prompt us to run, I would run (on the spot of course) with abandon, determined to not get caught by the lion.

It dawned on me the other day that my life has been a little bit like that song.  As a young person I tried to equip myself with everything that I would need to survive this life.  I tried to prepare myself, follow the rules as best as I could, brought great companions along for wisdom and guidance and I expected that all would be well.  Until it wasn’t.  Until I was so filled with fear and anxiety that I no longer wanted to even be on the journey. Somehow, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t cut out for lion hunting.  I preferred to disappear into the thick reeds of avoidance and camp there until it was safe.

The problem with the run and hide strategy is that you never gain confidence in your ability to face the challenges and pain that life can throw at you.  What is true for the children’s song rings true in my life.  There is always going to be pain, trials, frustrations, fears, broken hearts, shattered dreams…and though I have often tried, I can’t go over them, I can’t go around them, I’ve got to go THROUGH them.

  I have recently made a conscious effort to go through the things that terrify me instead of freezing in fear or avoiding them altogether; situations that I would normally convince myself I cannot tolerate or survive. Situations like: putting myself out there again in the performing world, even though I’m not perfect, and don’t have the talent I think I should (or wish I had); attempting to connect my dichotomous worlds of ‘good ol’ stay at home Mom’ who’s main focus is her family and performing in theatre.  As always – I long for the PERFECT way of doing things – the perfect way to fight that lion and end up victorious!  However, the painful truth of the matter is that if I don’t TRY, I won’t ever learn.  If I don’t fall, I won’t ever gain the strength to lift myself up again.  

It is uncomfortable and at times, painful to be in combat with the lion.  It attacks, scratches, preys and pounces.  However, instead of trying to suppress my fear or ignore my feelings, I am trying to be mindful and honest about my experience. I am also preparing and arming myself with the tools (and people) that I will help me ‘make it out alive’.  I am also giving myself permission (best-selling author Brene Brown recommends even writing a permission slip to keep in your pocket!) to cancel the hunt and have a backup plan, should the fear or confrontation of the lion be too much for me on a particular day.  A hunt can always be rescheduled to a later date.

My next hunt will still terrify me.  And maybe the next one will as well.  But maybe, if I stop dropping and rolling out of my life, I might just move THROUGH what terrifies me, and develop a confidence in my own safariing abilities, no matter what I encounter.

Becoming Ordinary: Year 2 Day 26

Advertisements

Ramblings…

Standard

ramblings

I haven’t been writing lately…well…that’s not exactly true.  I have been writing a little, but not sharing.  I’m not sure why exactly…that’s not true either.  I do know why.  When I don’t feel like I have something positive to offer, some glimmer of hope, some coin in the cake (this was my favourite birthday tradition as a child; come cake time, each child would dive through their piece of cake like the Hulk looking for gold!  Actually quarters. But you get the picture.) I just keep my mouth shut.  Or I guess I keep my blog…unblogged.

 

I haven’t seemed to have any coins lately.  It’s not that life has been bad either.  In fact I have been feeling quite good for awhile now (for those of you who may have just tuned in, I struggle with clinical depression and the last couple of years have been…up and down).

 

What I have written is… ramblings.  Pure, honest, heartfelt ramblings. To whom do I ramble?  Myself mostly.  And my therapist. Especially to myself AFTER I’ve seen my therapist! 🙂  I write to survive.  I write to contemplate.  I write to put my feelings down where I can see them; somehow relieving the pressure cooker full of emotions that are festering, pulsing, and growing just under the surface.

 

Why share these ramblings at all?  Why not show the ‘Photoshop’ed version of my reality (Is there a writer’s version of Photoshop? Oh…I guess it’s called editing.)  One, because my blog is called ‘Becoming Ordinary: Letting go of ‘perfect’ one day at a time’.  If I only write when I have something poignant and sparkly to share, then I am still suffering under the rules of the tyrant who constantly demands perfection (and we know where that leads!).  Secondly, I feel it’s my duty to be honest about my struggles.  Let me explain.  I want to help people.  I want people to be inspired to ask for help.  I want people to know that they are not the only one who gets depressed, or has ‘crazy’ thoughts, or is ridden with anxiety.   Psychiatrists, psychologists, practitioners & counsellors all agree that the biggest barrier that stops people and their families from getting help is the stigma attached to mental illness.  People are afraid of being judged, gossiped about, people using their hurts or struggles against them.  However, if we can remove the stigma attached to speaking up, asking for help, we can begin the helping and healing process.  Then and only then will people be able to crawl out of the shadows of shame and isolation and get the help that they need.

 

So here I go.  Warning: it’s not uplifting.  It was written on a day when I was feeling down, alone.  I DO NOT feel this way all the time – it is a small sliver of thoughts written from the heart when feeling anxious.  So…here are the ramblings of a pastor’s wife, recovered anorexic, sometimes depressed person who wants to blow the LID off of ‘stigma’!  Stigma?!  Bah!  You may have met your match!

 

ALONE

Sometimes we are lonely. So lonely that we feel like strangers in the world we live in.

 

We walk around on the outskirts of life, watching, listening, pretending for a moment that we too are a part of what is going on.

 

But there is a wall. A thick barrier between us and the outside world. On one side is laughter, camaraderie, and sweet indulgences that mock you, alone, on the other side. What other people have, at times, seems appealing, but you can’t help but hear the destruction, littered with pain through their shouts of elation and enjoyment.

 

This makes you wonder why there aren’t more people on your side of the wall. You listen to truth, obey the rules and start to resent those on the other sided the wall. After all, though you can see the destruction and identify the pain, their shouts of celebration make you painfully aware of the giant barrier between you and them.

 

And yet they don’t see it. They don’t see the wall a because their backs are turned only facing what lies before them. Indulgence, desires, wants, needs. With their voracious appetites they devour all that comes before them. And God allows this. Here I am on my side of the wall. Listening, hearing, and watching while others get blessed; enjoying every minute of their lives with reckless abandon.  On my side of the wall, I am desperately trying to please God, make sound choices, lonely and keenly aware that my choices keep me behind the wall.

 

There I wait. Wait for the time when I am celebrating. When I am indulging.  When I am filled with joy. Instead, I am left staring at the wall, only listening to the living that is going on beyond my bricks and mortar.

 

Morning dawns.  I bravely smile as I start my day once again alone, behind the wall.  But I pray that God would be close and that he would bring more people to my side of the wall.  So I wait.  And listen.  I begin to live tortured by what is going on just beyond my reach.  Both the joy and the suffering, the abandon and the aftermath.  I decide to build my wall higher, thicker, tougher. Maybe if my wall was thicker I wouldn’t have to hear their shouts, smell their humanity, feel their pain. Maybe if my walls were thicker I would be happier to stay on my side. Though alone, I would at least feel safe. Safe from their immorality, and dangerous choices.  But the construction of a bigger deeper and impenetrable wall leaves me wheeling even more alone, and I have now blocked out the sun, and the beauty that was part of both of our worlds. I no longer get to smell the flowers, see the sunshine, feel the warmth of it touch my skin. Alone, I don’t experience the beauty of togetherness. The beautiful music of life cannot be played by a single instrument alone. And I can no longer hear their shouts and singing. No all that is left is the wall. I am safe and alone.

How’s that for ‘letting go of perfect’ one day at a time? 🙂

Becoming Ordinary: Year 1 Day 236

WHY ARE WE HIDING?

Standard

robin_williams_inline_19ujg4r-19ujgadThere are brief, public, encounters that ‘ordinary people’ have with those who suffer from mental illness.  For a small period of time it makes headlines when yet another star ‘looses it’ in public (Brittany Spears and Amanada Bynes come to mind).  Even more devastating is when someone as brilliant as Robin Williams takes his own life. It’s shocking.  Maddening even.  We suddenly have questions and want answers.  Until the hype settles down, the experts slowly stop making appearances on CNN and Entertainment Tonight, days turn into weeks and most people go back to regular life.

I say MOST people because there are many of us who continue to suffer after the very public interest wanes.  Sadly, many of us choosing to suffer in silence.  But who are we kidding?  Aren’t we ALL touched by mental illness?  The statistics say that 1 in 5 people (20% of our population in Canada) will PERSONALLY suffer from mental illness in their lifetime.  If you think about it – that means that in homes where there are 5 people (any combination of Adults, Children, Seniors etc.) one of them will struggle or suffer through a bought of mental illness which inevitably will affect the whole household.  Some of those families will support a loved one who will suffer for their lifetime.

So why are we hiding in the shadows, behind closed doors, under warm, cozy blankets of shame?  Why are we not talking about how our mothers, our daughters, our fathers, our children, are struggling?  Are we quietly judging?  Are we afraid?  WHAT IS IT?!

Did you know, that in spite of the fact that mental illness can be treated effectively, almost one half (49%) of those who feel they have suffered from depression or anxiety have never gone to see a doctor about this problem?  An even MORE shocking statistic: the LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH (not including accidental deaths) for people between the ages of 10-40 years old is SUICIDE!  “Deaths by suicide, it should be noted, reflect only a small percentage of suicide attempts. It is estimated that for every completed suicide there are as many as 20 attempts.”9 And higher than 90% of those who commit suicide struggle with a diagnosable and TREATABLE mental illness!

So what are we doing about the LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH in Canada?  There are many groups that are daily working to make us aware of mental illness, it’s effects, and the dangers of suffering in silence.   However, their most difficult battle isn’t necessarily against the illnesses themselves, but the STIGMA attached to those who struggle.  The Canadian Mental Health Commission reports that:  People living with mental health disorders often say the stigma they encounter is worse than the illness itself.  (Mental Health Commission of Canada, Opening Minds Initiative, February 6, 2013, http://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/initiatives-and-projects/opening-minds).

That is why I am open about my own struggles.  I want people to know that though things can look good on the outside, there can be a war raging on the inside…and we NEED to talk about it!  It is literally a matter of life and death.

Becoming Ordinary: Year 1 Day: 209

“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2015 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”

http://www.blogformentalhealth.com

http://blogformentalhealth.com/take-the-pledge/

bfmh15-4-copy