We moved here with so many expectations. As my husband and I did the rundown on our last six months, we were both completely dumbfounded at all that has happened. One of us said something about “expect the unexpected” followed by sardonic snorting. (I am an excellent “snorter”, by the way. Not of drugs or anything, just laughing snorts and sarcastic ones too.)
We are so jaded.
First, the whole idea of expecting the unexpected is a sham. If you expect the unexpected, then doesn’t that make it expected? I am not the first one to point this out, nor will I be the last.
Second, no matter how hard we try, humans make assumptions about the future. It’s healthy in so many ways – planning for the future, taking next steps. It’s also a sure fire way to anxiety. I literally have anxiety about my anxiety about the future. Why can’t I just let it lie? I mean, I can visualize the next thirty years of my life in the span of 30 seconds. If I tell myself to stop thinking about the future, then I just think about not thinking about the future – which is really just thinking about the future.
Oh yes, anxiety is a bitch. Sigh.
At points in my life, I have been so depressed that I had no dreams. In fact, I remember several seasons of my life in which I listened to Dar Williams’ “I Have Lost my Dreams” on repeat. Each time I hoped it would help me find a new dream, something to hope in. Sometimes, when the past and present are so bleak, we need a quality hope for the future.
I think the wide majority of my suicidal ideation is tied to a vicious combo of depression and anxiety. In those moments, when the thoughts of harm come to me, I usually don’t want to feel the pain of the past, present or future.
Growing up, I just turned music on and sang it out. I don’t know when that became socially inappropriate, but it did. I turned to fiction novels, specifically fantasy and sci-fi. Why? Because they have nothing to do with reality. I wanted to be as far from reality as possible.
Sometimes, I still do.
Honestly, I think a little bit of that is healthy. I need breaks from the onslaught of depression and anxiety. Taking breaks can be healthy, as long as that is all they are. You see, for a long time I took hiatuses (the exaggerated term for breaks) and I would return to the world, the onslaught, and the breakdown would be even worse.
I cycled like that for years and years. Shit happened. Sang myself out of reality. Shit is still happening. Read myself out of reality. Shit will happen. Try singing and reading myself out of reality. Fail. Maybe I should end it all? How can I end it all? When?
I don’t do that anymore. I try not to at least. Now, I have this thing called a safety plan, in which I have to confess to my husband that I want to take my life. We’ve been at it for three years now and it is no easier than day one. Well, maybe it is actually. I mean, we’ve been doing the dance of communication for a lot longer now. He doesn’t ignore comments like, “I can’t handle this anymore.” And I desperately try to understand when it takes him an hour to get to me or he tells me that I need to call my sister or my best friend.
It’s been three years now. I have some dreams – things like maybe becoming a therapist or fostering kids. Yet, I know, deep down that the paragraph I just wrote likely disqualifies me from those things. How could I ever help someone else when sometimes I can’t even help myself? (Right now, I want to stop writing this shit and go eat 25 cookies.)
Yet, truth is an evolution and the truth that I am learning is that everyone needs someone. No one gets by without a little or even a lot of help every now and then. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know if my dreams will ever be made reality. I do know that if I expect the unexpected from people?
Then, successfully managed mental illness would stop being a disqualifier to helping others. Rather, it would be a qualifier for helping others. Because I know one thing, those that have known the deepest pain have been the best helpers in my life.
No, not just helpers.