A reminder that I am grateful for you.
Each punch can feel like the beginning of another collapse, when instead, each is a new beginning. People like me learn from a young age that we must express ourselves or be engulfed by hurt for which we have no outlet. We may fight to be treated like we are valid in feeling as deeply as we do, and embark on what can be a long, scary process to find treatments that will rewire our brains correctly. Recovery is a lifelong process, not a "quick fix," and healing is accepting that things may never fully change. Rather than pushing back on that notion, we must chug forward and divorce comfort for courage. One cold day three years after taking my first antidepressant, I Googled "hotels in the middle of nowhere," but no place seemed far enough away. I hovered over the "deactivate" button on Facebook to abandon a three-year fight and escape the accountability my readers give me. Even after owning my diagnoses and despite sun and tulips, love and security, hopelessness can still descend sometimes. For a moment, I want to hide, but if I say one sad thing I'm flooded with encouragement from a cheering squad so huge I swear it could fill Yankee Stadium. I am so lucky to have writing to dig me out; a craft that has repeatedly saved me from myself. It has allowed me to chew on years of adversity and spit out words that unchain me from pain. I have shared the most intimate parts of myself, and I have burned writing on my driveway with a Crème Brûlée torch before it's ever read. For me, that is power.
My supporters have shown up with protective wrath. They've read me up and down, and have declared that whoever silences me does not deserve the sanctity of my words. Still, at times, I have let the disease that kills me on the inside have its silence back. I have walked seventy-four miles in a week and it hasn't been enough to pull me from the grip of apathy; to keep me from saying, "please leave me alone." Sometimes, I am so volatile that my ears ache at the sound of a pin drop; the friction of a cotton shirt is enough to make me scream. Sometimes, I jump if I'm tapped on the shoulder, and I wake up shaking. My candor in life has given me power of influence and little regret, but sometimes I still spend thirty minutes on the phone spiraling, piling reason upon reason that I am a burden. Sometimes, indifference - the evil byproduct of sadness - runs after me until I let it in. I write about the sweet taste of stability often - as if bad days don't still happen - but it is only fair to reveal the full picture. It has taken me years to erect asylums that feel secure. I've written a roadmap for every circumstance, "how-to guides for avoiding isolation," because I know where I go when things get hard. I'm armed with the snacks, books, shoes, and music to conquer any mood, but some days show me that nothing is infallible; not an orange bottle of squares and circles, not me, or my disaster plans. This, not just the highs, is what defines the sometimes-chaotic process of recovery. I will forever be a work in progress.