The Mountain and the Shovel

I remain shaken by the “breaking open” I have been experiencing, but there are signs that I am passing through it and, perhaps, understanding the gifts behind this deep dive. Before I get into that, though, I want to thank Beth for standing by me minute by minute as I processed these feelings. Thanks, too, to my readers, friends and family, who reached out to me through Facebook and texts. Your support has been tremendously helpful.

The first gift is Empathy. I have a clearer sense of how people with moderate mental illness might feel when they lose hope, direction and energy. And this brought up some thoughts about someone I know.

We have a friend who suffers from this debilitating illness and my belief is that those around her (including me) have found it very difficult to be empathetic as she struggles day-to-day. Oftentimes, her family members (and a lot of professionals) have told her to basically get over herself, to put one foot in front of the other and stop being listless and down on herself. Other behaviors – like drinking, stealing or lying – have also been the stimulus for highly judgemental rants by those closest to her. And while she was receiving these harangues, no one was more upset at her than her.

I am very fortunate that my dips into depression are, for the most part, perceived by me and others as temporary and all to a purpose. I am gifted by being able to alchemize most of my experiences into lessons I can use in my life and my art. This is true for many of us, but not all of us. Therefore, I feel empathy today for those who don’t have this gift or skill. Moreover, it’s often not something that they can learn – at least not while they are being constantly told, “you are disappointing me.” This is, I’m going to say it, an unintentional form of abuse.

That said, my friend has often refused therapy and a medication regime that may help her. That’s part of the reason people around her have found it very difficult to support her with nurturance and have turned on her, on occasion. And it makes sense. The people around someone suffering from mental illness are hurting, too. It’s a shit show, plain and simple.

Getting back to me, I know that some more therapy is a good idea. I may even need someone new to evaluate my current use of an antidepressant. I know, too, that there’s work to be done developing three actionable items: Purpose, Imagination and Structure. (There’s the alchemist in me!)

On a lighter note, Beth, Bradley and I are getting accustomed to living in our new home. We’re planning on registering for a P.O. Box today (no rural mail delivery), learning about how to dispose of our garbage and recycling (no pickup, folks) and we’re excited that it has stopped raining so that we can get outside and explore our neighborhood. I think I may have said it before, but the Little Red Carriage House is located on 40 acres of land, so there’s plenty of space for Bradley to run and for us to walk – right outside of our door.

Beth has restarted her Yoga & Reiki classes, we’re cooking some tasty meals and tomorrow, I’m going to a Yankee game with some new friends from the area.

I still feel a weight in my stomach, a physical heaviness in my head that has not lifted. There may be more crying ahead and, hopefully, more lessons to learn. In fact, I would say that it’s guaranteed.

When the troubles come, the best place to be is often on our knees in prayer. So, in this moment, I call out to God to help me through this period, to help me give to myself and those around me the love needed to feel connected to our higher selves. May all those who feel mentally unstable receive the support, hope, direction and the tools needed to work through their illnesses or difficulties. May we all grow in empathy for ourselves and others. May our tears fall (as mine are right now) so that we can let go of our False Selves and come back to the Garden, the place where peace, kindness and love are all around us. I’ve heard it said that You can move mountains, but we need to bring the shovel. May we have the strength and wisdom to do so.

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