As a writer who blogs mostly about my what’s on my mind; whether that be about city planning, or lack of it, people, and how we interact with one another in the world, parents who pimp out their children for seemingly their own “gain” I often struggle to post anything at all when I find myself in an emotionally difficult spot. Such as the spot of I’ve found myself in for the better part of two weeks.
I have posted, very tongue in cheek in the past about how aging isn’t for sissies. I’ve also opened up, when the time was appropriate about my own struggle with mental health. There is such a stigma attached to admitting that sometimes, I, you, all of us are just not doing well inside our own minds. There is also, very much, an attitude of “just snap out of it” or “let it go” and my personal favorite; “your life is so blessed, what on earth could be getting you down??” As if being married to a handsome, talented, successful man, owning two lovely homes, and being the mother of three incredibly gifted, talented, beautiful girls somehow negates my “right” to struggle. This way of thinking from not only people on the “outside” but from me as well, has always made me go “hmmm.”
But this is not how anxiety, depression work. They don’t look around at your “wonderful” life and say, “hey. Forget Shantelle guys, she’s got such an amazing life these days, let’s go bug somebody who doesn’t have so much to be thankful for.” And away they go.
No. It doesn’t work like that at all, sadly. Anybody who has known me, knows that I love deeply, that I celebrate life fully and wholeheartedly, I’m often generous and loyal to my own detriment. I love being kind. I love giving of myself so much so that I fall into bed exhausted, but full, also knowing that I choose to do all the things that keep the “demons” at bay. Those who have been with me my entire (or most of my) life, my mother, Yannick, and a couple of girlfriends, have watched me fight to allow the upbeat, strong, focused, “best self” shine day in, day out. But sometimes, this is not so easy. Some days there is so much more at play, and I become exhausted from the fight, and raise the white flag.
After two weeks of reading, focusing, and meditating on not giving into the feelings, and thoughts that want me to believe that I’m not worthy/deserving. The thoughts that I’m failing my children, my husband, and more importantly, myself, sometimes become so loud, that I begin to believe that it must be truth. Rather than my knowing that I’m killing the game, and supporting and loving them, and me, the best I can becomes louder than the other truth. This doubt grows, and before I know it, I’m not only doubting my abilities as a wife, and mother, but as a writer, a creative person, and general good citizen of the world. And that’s when the weight of doubt becomes too much to even breath, let alone stand.
Where does it come from? This all encompassing doubt, and feeling of failure? It is incredibly confusing; because I not only know that I’m an incredible human, but I believe it deep in my soul. And when it comes, why is it more powerful than the knowing that I am sure as hell not perfect, but I am doing my absolute best? Why, for me, does the darkness have the ability to take me out at the knees? But, for example my husband can have the thoughts that he’s not where he wants to be in his life/career, acknowledge it, and move on? Is it our chemical make up that enables these times to become dark mental times for one person, but not another? Or is it a hormonal thing? I was talking to Yannick about it; wondering if it is all chalked up to hormones? I mean, ask my mother, ask him, hormones and I have never, ever, been a balanced thing. Some women, like my mother, like my eldest daughter, and a couple of my girlfriends have zero issues with their hormones. They are the same day one of their monthly cycle as they are day twenty five. No change up in personality, temperament, or attitude. I have never been this girl. Puberty was a bitch for me. Being on the pill; well let’s just say, you would have thought I was Linda Blair from the Exorcist, and pregnancy. Shit. Yannick is famous for saying; “I had the coolest, most amazing girlfriend for four months, and then for two-three months, I thought ‘what the hell have I gotten myself into??'” What he had gotten himself into was a girlfriend who had no idea she was pregnant for ten weeks. Again. Hormones. We have never seemed to get along. And now here I am, I can’t remember when I had my last period; so I know my old frenemy, hormones are hugely at play right now, even with my bio-identical concoction of the three major ones, some how I’m still “unbalanced” struggling to find level ground to exist on.
This is where sweet Mack, and a loving husband came into play. It seems to me that the most important part of getting out of the hole of doubt, anxiety, loneliness, fear, is to share these feelings in a safe environment, with somebody who can handle it. That might be a close girlfriend, your mom (considering she gave you life, she probably gets you better than you get yourself), if you’re fortunate to have an open minded, understanding lover, let them know that you’re struggling and need them to wrap their arms around you, or if time and money allow, a kick ass therapist who is qualified in not only supporting you through it, but also has the qualifications to give you tools to combat the dark days. And unlike me, who tries to press on, acting like “I’ve got this” or in some cases I tell myself “this isn’t happening” open up about it sooner, rather than later. Or, hell finding and focusing on true perspective might be just as simple as it was for me yesterday. All the support you need might just come from your dog, like it did with me. While our old guy was bouncing around, nub wagging, ears perked, smiling from ear to ear; I stopped and reminded myself of all the challenges Mack has faced in his one life. Yet here is he, he still gets up every day, all day long with the same joy, the same giving spirit as he always has. Listen, I understand that dogs don’t think in the same fashion as we do, they don’t understand that they’ve had cancer, or lost their sibling, or even that currently, as in Mack’s case, he doesn’t have many days left. I know this about dogs. So, we can’t literally be like dogs, since our brains work in a way that, unfortunately, keeps stock, has memory, and language; we know when we’re not “ourselves” whether it be physically, or mentally, and this can torment us. Dogs are dogs, and we are not, obviously. What I’m suggesting is that I, and perhaps you, spend more time living life the way dogs do, than the way human beings do, dogs seem to have it all figured out. If you want to know how a dog lives, read the anonymous poem I posted yesterday over again, and try to live today more like a dog.
In closing, thank you to each and every one of you who has written in words of encouragement. It means the world to me, and truth be told, we all need to know that we’re not alone when the darkness falls.
PHOTO CREDIT: @thekittyholland