One year ago I packed up my little dorm room of 9 weeks and caught an early morning bus off the small little compound that had become my home. Upon returning home one of the most common questions people asked me was “do you feel better?” Well, no. A year ago I had only just begun to trace the outline of the tip of the iceberg that was my mental health. The clinicians had done a good job at educating me and I had knowledge of what challenges I was facing but I lacked applied understanding. I would not be able to define that until I was living in a “real world” environment.
Day 45 of 100 intentional reflective steps.
The real world was a shock to my system. The combination of medication, toxic shame over my mental health diagnosis, overstimulation by noises and people, and sheer emotional exhaustion left my confidence shattered and emotions raw.
When I entered the hospital I had a job, relationships and goals. When I left I knew I could not go back to work. All my projects and speaking engagements had been guillotined by my bosses. I was directed to focus exclusively on my health. Friends and family were doing an awkward dance around me trying to figure out what I needed and wanted. For months I was sure I had become agoraphobic. I would break into cold sweats and shakes if I was in a store or group setting. I was on too many medications to be safely driving, which didn’t matter because I didn’t have a desire to see anybody or go anywhere. For months I did not do laundry, cook, clean or do anything more than sitting on the couch. I went to yoga 5 hours a week, a therapist twice a week and squeezed in the frequent visits with a psychiatrist. This was the totallity of my life.
One year later and I don’t feel better. Why? I have spent more time with my trauma therapist this year than with almost any other human. She is a sadist who pokes at my heart until something hurts and then pitches a tent and camps in that spot a while. It’s horrible. I am a raw wound with no opportunity to hide beneath a scab while I heal.
After a year of this the only thing I am 100% certain of is that this season is an exercise of surrender and trust. I have doctors, therapists, pastors and spiritual directors who help chart my path forward. I hear the voice of God through them as they synchronistically yet independently speak words of caution, wisdom and patience. What am amazing gift my “village” is to me.
I have never understood the concept of being a work in process more than I do now. I am incomplete and I know it. The beauty of it is that I am closer now to being completely ok with that than I have ever been.