Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Wile E. Coyote makes me feel like I'm going to be okay

One of my favorite cartoons growing up was the Roadrunner and Coyote.  I don't know why, but there was something brilliant in the simplicity of the dynamic between the characters.  The Coyote was a tenacious and creative predator; utilizing a seemingly bottomless arsenal of tricks and tools to capture his speedy competitor.  His innate intellect was often overshadowed by his unfortunate and disastrous attempts at putting his newest ACME sponsored product to work.  I think as a kid, I felt the Roadrunner was so much smarter than the Coyote.  I kind of wanted to 'be him', if I could have chosen a cartoon to emulate.  He escaped situations unscathed, watched from the sidelines as his competitor suffered the consequences of yet another failed attempt at capturing him, and sped off into the dusty sunset of the desert with a trademark 'meep meep'.

Now that I have a few years and a couple more decades behind me, I'm recognizing more and more the completely skewed view of life this cartoon provided for young, impressionable, idealistic minds such as myself.  Life isn't about being the Roadrunner.  It's an impossibility to speed through quickly, avoid struggle and pain and bumps and bruises and brokenness.  True, you can have seasons of your life where things are smooth sailing, roads are clear, skies are sunny, and the pieces seem to fit into place.  The seasons might be months or years long, which can fill you with blessings and hope and create in you an idyllic feeling that might give you a false sense of stability.

Then you have times of your life where your smooth sailing might be in periods of a couple of weeks, a couple of days, or even a couple of hours.  You might not see the opportunity to grasp the moments of sanctity and sanity because they seem to be so few and far between, or because you're bouncing from one road block to the next....

Life is hard.  A constant battle of wits, and when you stop for a moment and reflect, more often than not, you're battling with no one other than yourself {and maybe the occasional rock or anvil or stick of dynamite}.  Whether you're seeking wealth or success or even a delicious roadrunner dinner, you rely on tools, people, or unscrupulous behavior in order to make progress in the journey toward your finish line.  The assistance on which you rely can be helpful.  These tools can prove resourceful in attaining your goal, but often times they can be cast aside as you stand on the podium to receive your medal of success; because you don't want to acknowledge that you needed the help along the way.

Initially, when I was diagnosed with depression and prescribed medication, I felt shame.  Wearing the black badge of 'depressed' felt shameful, especially considering my life's circumstances.  My ability to be a stay at home mom, living in a beautiful home, happy and healthy children...what in the world could I be depressed about?

Soon after speaking with my doctor, however, I realized that my 'black badge' isn't one that I'm meant to hide in my little corner of the world.  So I wrote about it.  Not because I think I'm particularly eloquent, or an expert by any means, but because I needed to.  I had to share my reality, be authentic and brave and open and honest because my heart beckoned me to do so.  In my own little marathon of life, I felt like I had reached a special little mile marker, although the finish line was still absolutely nowhere in site.

Since I began taking medication, I have been fortunate enough to have limited side effects.  Minor setbacks {courtesy of the insurance company} in the beginning had me switching from one medicine to another, and the adjustment was {thankfully} relatively easy.  I have been consistent with my regimen; haven't missed doses, and only a few inconsistencies in the time at which I take it, a phenomenon I sum up with one simple word: mommyhood.  The ease with which I have found success in medication has helped me feel like I have reached a couple more mile markers in my marathon.

But recently...I've been kind of blindsided.  Here I've been, sailing along on a sea of the positive effects of medication paired with an ever growing and deepening relationship with God as I walk along in faith.  I felt like I was on the path...not necessarily with a view of a 'finish line' on the horizon, but a checkpoint.  I'd been able to get a grasp on something I was so desperately seeking: a better control on my emotions and head and ability to function more like 'me'.  But what I've discovered is that as you reach these little checkpoints, you have that moment right after the bliss wears off when you take a step back and realize you haven't seen the forest for the trees.  The joy weans and you're back in the midst of an overwhelming sense to get to 'the next' step. Even my dear friend the Coyote discovered this...

Just when I thought I had a handle on my situation, my routine was pretty good, and I was rolling along the path of life with minimal bumps--the likes of which I was able to handle with an open mind and calm presence {a huge change from my previous self}...I feel this.

I'm teetering on the edge of a cliff; wavering between fighting the winds that threaten to push me over the side and into the space of being comfortably numb and firmly standing my ground, slowly and steadily plodding forward, step by grueling step away from the abyss.  But on the outside?  My facade is comprised of a made-up face, my best attempt at a 'hairstyle' {despite the November(?!) humidity}, and clothes that actually present an image that I've *tried*.  I smile and laugh and contribute.  I work my tail off to keep my cracks from showing; masking my inner brokenness for fear that I'll appear weak, incapable, or even undesirable as an acquaintance or friend.  Lack or loss of human connection is one of my greatest fears, but at the same time, in some sort of twisted dichotomy, I find myself craving absolute solitude and introverted 'me' time.

By the grace of God, these strong winds that stagger my footing are not what many people would consider *huge, life-changing events*.  My family and I have our health, a stable home life, an ever-growing walk in faith, and blessings that I {shamefully} know we take for granted on a daily basis.  So what's with the wind?

I'm not sure what has brought about this divergence from the norm I had been experiencing over the past several weeks.  Things here are pretty much status quo...a few things here and there that alter the swing of life's pendulum a bit, but that's life.  Roll with the punches...keep a healthy balance...things will be 'good'...it's all a part of God's plan--trust Him.  But I'm discovering the depths of what it is that I'm really dealing with here.  I guess the shame I felt at first diagnosis has metamorphosed into a different strand of shame.  The 'what could I possibly be depressed about' has altered into 'why can't I get it together...why isn't this medicine working...why did I let myself feel so 'all in' to my medication that I might have become inadvertently placebo-ed into thinking I was 'fixed'.  {**This isn't to say that I think my doctor or pharmacist gave me sugar pills, but that I rested and relied my hope so heavily on the resource of medication, that I was blinded by reality.}

Maybe this isn't the right medication for me.  Maybe I need something different, something stronger, something more.  Some people might think that maybe I need to read my bible more, pray more, write more, relax more, or inversely, do more.

Or maybe, this little hitch in my giddy-up is like a runner's cramp. {**this should be a fun correlation...seeing as how I don't run.  ever.  but stick with me}

In my very, very limited experience with running {like reeaallly limited...running the mile in high school middle school is possibly my most recent memory}, I would find myself trucking along, making a relatively decent pace, encountering a little divot in the ground here or there but adjusting my footing so as to not roll my ankle or trip {if you knew me as a kid, you might be laughing at this presumptuous statement.  I was still am a klutz.}.  I would find myself making good enough time, but I needed a little extra push.  I'd snag a drink of water to quench my thirst, but would usually find myself shortly afterward doubled over in pain as I coped with cramping.  I honestly don't know the real reason cramping occurs, whether it's lack of stretching or over-indulging in water or something else entirely, but I only remember the pain.  I remember the way in which it would halt my forward progress as I winced and struggled and stumbled around, straining to regulate my breathing in hopes that the oxygenated blood would provide some sort of relief.

Because I'm not a runner, I generally would take this halted progress as a sign that I should just do only what I needed to do in order to cross the finish line.  Usually this meant slowing my pace to walk along with those who are even less runners than I {not 'less' as in a comparative term...in fact, I applaud their authenticity from the get-go and refusing to try and fool themselves into thinking this will be 'the time' they fall in love with running}.  Sure enough, I'd eventually reach my destination.  I didn't find myself overwhelmed with feelings of accomplishment, though.  I had a brief moment of 'wahoo!', like when Coyote wrapped his arms around the ankle of Roadrunner.  And then...I'd look up.  The monstrous bird hovering over my head came in the form of shame and disappointment in myself.  Why hadn't I just tried harder after I found relief from my cramped sides?  Why didn't I press on forward and get back on track the way I had been before my struggle?

The truth?  It's hard.  Life is hard.  It's hard to get back on the horse, to keep on riding, to keep on pursuing and keep on keepin' on.  It's even harder when you're dealing with depression.  I'm certain this isn't my first 'setback' as I deal with this illness, but having a bit more education than I did prior to my diagnosis, I am more cognizant and therefore feel as though I can be a bit more proactive.  Sure, I whine and mope and wander aimlessly around the house or not move at all as I curl into a ball on the couch {and in this moment, I give thanks to my husband, for supporting me in whatever way he can, even if he doesn't quite understand it}.  Sure I'm still in jammies, glasses on, un-showered and messy hair.  But I'm channeling my inner Coyote, only with a twist.  I'm not going to keep on grasping at the latest and greatest resources to help me achieve my success, but I will go to my old standbys.  I'll continue having faith in my doctor, faith in my own assessment of my health, and most importantly, faith in the One who made me and who will be with me through every runner's cramp and pothole and mile marker and finish line.

And, the tiara Raegan gave me to wear today doesn't hurt my self esteem, either. ;)

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