At some point in all of our lives there likely comes a time when we realize that we aren’t quite as free as we once were. This isn’t to say, “innocence lost” or that we aren’t free at all. But more so, we come to a road block and realize that we indeed have to figure out how to climb over it, and that it is going to be hard – whether we like it or not. When we are children we can turn to our parents for assistance. We can call on our brother or sister when we are scared. We can call on a friend when we are hurt. But when we are adults, there often isn’t anyone we can turn to and say, “will you fix this for me?”, or, “will you please do this for me?” Especially for the important stuff. The stuff we need to overcome. We are left with our own head and our own hands, and for whatever reason may be, we need to climb over, climb under, go around, or go through. There won’t be any time for stopping, nor any time for hesitation. We won’t want to do what needs to be done, but in order to better ourselves, it is absolutely imperative that it becomes resolved.
The obstacles we encounter throughout life come in many different forms. What can be the easiest task to one person can be the hardest for another. But we know this. We hear about it all the time. One person can’t open the jar, but another opens it easily. One person struggles with math, another can’t get enough of it. One struggles with art, their friend is all-encompassed by it. Someone thrives by being around people while someone feels like running away from a group of more than ten.
Something changes from when we are children to when we are adults. For some reason, we assume it is no longer okay to ask, “will you fix this for me?”, or, “will you please do this for me?” So what is it, then? What happens during that span of time that tricks our mind into thinking that it is no longer okay to ask for help? Why is it that just one little occurrence of not being able to ask for help make us think that we can never ask for help again? What do we think the consequences of asking for help are? That we are child-like? That we are incapable of being “mature”? What tricks us into thinking we are no longer free to reach out?
As someone who has suffered from emotionally crippling anxiety since as long as I can remember, I can say that there have been times when I have felt like there was no way out. I felt as though I couldn’t lend a hand or grab a hand. I was under the impression that either way, nobody would understand. This left me with the feeling that I was in a bottomless pit, digging myself deeper every single day. Because I had no recognition or understanding from those around me, I thought it was all my fault. I thought something was wrong with me. I thought that because others couldn’t understand or have compassion for my imperfections, I was to blame. Now, where does this leave an insecure teenage girl? You got it, depressed, outraged, acting out, defiant, self-destructive; You name it, I had it. I was a nightmare.
But here’s the thing: It wasn’t my fault. It has never been my fault. This is the thing that is so incredibly important. The thing that changes up the whole game. The single, only thing that pulled me from the depths. And you know what? Every single time I feel myself slipping (yes, I still get a panic attack about once a year), this continues to be the only thing that pulls me back. The only thing that keeps my own thoughts from consuming every good thought my mind could possibly produce, is the single sentence: This is not your fault. This sentence brings rationality back to me even during the darkest of times. But I wasn’t able to learn this fact about myself and everyone else that suffers from anxiety until I was 21 years old.
To me, this is the problem that surrounds anxiety and other mental disorders in society today. People- everyone, man, woman, child- think that it’s all their fault. The think that they can’t change the thoughts in their own head. They think that they created those awful thoughts about themselves and therefore they picture themselves as this awful person. They focus on everything they don’t like about themselves, every singular itty-bitty, teeny-tiny imperfection and they blow it up so that they have the misconception that this is the whole of who they are as a person. This clouds their vision, so they can’t see that all of it isn’t true. They can’t see that every single imperfection that they have is an ode to who they are, where they came from, and where they are going. They can’t see the utterly wonderful, whole, magnificent and perfect being that they are simply by being themselves. The beauty of life is mistakes. The marvelous thing about being human is that we cannot be perfect. Growing up, I was told through emotional abuse that I was supposed to be perfect. I was under the impression for 21 years that every imperfection I had made me not good enough. Every time I made a mistake or did something wrong, it was out of stupidity and I was a fool for doing it. I know all too well that people around me, and those far from me as well, suffer from emotional abuse every day. More often than not, people can’t realize what they’re being subjected to. They don’t realize that not everybody is treated so harshly, and that at the very least, they don’t deserve to feel the way they are feeling.
Every time I write, paint, draw, or photograph, I open up my heart and become vulnerable. I do this because I wish for people to see that they’re not the only one. In a world filled with so many people, it’s astonishing how apart from it all we can feel. Even in a room of hundreds, it is possible to feel alone. I wish to see a time when this is no longer the case. I hope people who are hurting in the way that I had hurt once know that they can outright reach out, and that there are others who understand. If you know someone who suffers from depression, anxiety or abuse, tell them there is a way out. Don’t wait another day. Life is too fleeting to wait for the right moment.
Thank you for taking your time to read,
Old Sauk River Trail, Darrington, WA, USA