On Mental Health

Playing in the Rain

If you’ll recall, I have a “No Runner Left Behind” trail running group on Sundays October-March. This weekend the rain caught us off guard (and by “us” I mean “me” because I didn’t check the weather) but it was so wonderful. It’s still really warm here for October so it felt like a refreshing Spring rain and my friend and I were laughing running down this one long trail and discussing how sad it is that there are people in the world who don’t get a chance to play in the mud and in the rain regularly.

I was thinking about that moment later in the day. That laughter. I was thinking about my happiness lately, and how when I have those moments now the happiness runs all the way down into my soul.

When I’m suffering under the weight of depression or anxiety, it’s like every moment in my life is connected by one thread of sadness. So even when I have happy moments, deep down there’s still the lingering sadness. I can look at the three darkest times in my life: Middle School (didn’t know anything about mental health but thought about suicide daily), Moving out on my own when I got pregnant at 18 (wrote the darkness off as homesickness and pregnancy hormones), and last year when I finally got help. There were still many moments of joy and happiness during those times, but if you dug past the moment, the happiness didn’t run all the way down. There was that thread of sadness connecting everything. It lined every smile and laugh, even though I didn’t realize it. That meant the dark moments were REALLY dark because it was sadness all the way down into my soul. I think that’s why it’s easy to hide depression, you still have good moments and good days. Maybe even a lot of them! But only you know that underneath it all is this one thread of sadness connecting everything. And its grip is tight.

Lately it’s the other way around, I still have bad days. Dark days. Sad days. But now, if you dig past those moments, you’ll find a thread of happiness connecting everything. The sadness doesn’t go all the way down anymore, but the happiness does. So the happy moments are rich and the sad moments are lined with happiness so I don’t feel hopeless. I might be sad or anxious and feeling bad, but when I look deep that’s when I see the thread of happiness and I feel tethered in joy instead of in pain. Being tethered in joy means it’s easier to let go of the sad days and welcome the happiness. Being tethered in pain means it’s easy to let go of the happy moments and just wallow in the pain.

I’m not sure if this thread of happiness is permanent, the thread of sadness wasn’t. But it helps me see that I’m doing okay. It reminds me that things are somehow balanced. The therapy and the things I’m learning are helping me somewhere deep down in my soul. When I first got help I was scared because the dark days were so dark, but now I always see that thread of joy so I’m not making the “crisis call” you consider making when you can’t see the light.

I guess therapy first helped me hack through that thread of sadness and replace it with one of joy. And now the continued work is to help me build that thread stronger so that it stays there, even under the weight of the sad days. Living life with the thread of sadness connecting everything? Is a terrible way to live. From the outside things might not look that much different in my life, but on the inside? I can see that those threads of sadness no longer run through everything and I feel so bad for Kim of last year who was suffering so greatly even through the happy moments. Having everything joyful tainted with sadness is just a terrible way to live and I’m so glad she got help.

But the thread of happiness is fragile, I know that. So I’m being diligent in trying to practice self care and surround myself with positive energy whenever I can.

And to make sure I play in the rain as often as possible.

3 thoughts on “Playing in the Rain”

  1. I so agree, Kim. It wasn’t until I was out of the pit that I realized how truly crushing the sad days really were. Even I knew I wasn’t joyful (normal people don’t cry in the car on the way to work every day) but I didn’t realize how it completely affected every single thing in my life. EVERY SINGLE THING. Between therapy and medication I see that there is light in every day even if you have to look for it a bit.

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