I came home from church today ready for a nap. All morning I was fielding questions about how Mason’s procedure went and what our treatment options are. People hugged us and asked how we were doing.
I don’t lie anymore. I don’t tell people I’m doing great. I don’t tell them I’m ok when I’m not. I don’t necessarily tell them how awful I feel, either. I tell them I’m hanging in there. Because, well, that’s the truth. I tell them I’m pushing through, doing what I can, getting by.
But, I have a couple friends who will stop me and look me in the eye and they just know better. They don’t buy those answers. Today, I found myself with tears filling up my eyes as one dear friend asked how I really was. All the sudden, without thinking, I just responded “I am in the trenches.” I didn’t even know what I meant by that. It took even me by surprise.
But as I laid in bed this afternoon while all of my boys were out on a hike, I reflected on my answer. A trench. A trench is a long, narrow ditch. I sometimes feel like my trench is deep and the rain that is falling around me is nearly flooding my trench leaving me struggling to breathe, nearly drowning in the muddy waters that try to sweep over me. I struggle to find my footing, but the mud is slippery and my foot can’t seem to grab hold. There’s nothing for my hand to hold onto to pull me up and I’m left sinking deeper in this trench. Alone. Cold. Wet. Muddy. Tired.
The view from the trench is scary and sad. Other people are on the ground, with a firm grip or a firmly planted foot. Some are dancing in the rain. Others are struggling and hating to be wet, but at least they aren’t drowning. Sometimes I feel like people can’t see me. Or if they can see me, they don’t know what to do so they turn their heads and keep on walking by.
My trench is caving in around me and I feel like I’ve lost the strength to try to keep fighting my way out. The trench that is sucking away my will to live is the trench of this debilitating depression and anxiety.
I’ve had many, many good months. Six, actually. That’s the longest I’ve gone in a long time with any sort of stability in my struggles with this awful cycling bipolar. Whether it’s medication, circumstances, life, or something else, I’m tired. Tired of feeling like this battle is always just around the corner. Tired of knowing the good months will always come to an end with some crash or attack. Today I just feel defeated. I feel stuck in my muddy trench.
I know the good days will come back around. I know this cycles back up just as fast as it knocks me down. It doesn’t make me hate mental illness any less. It doesn’t make me less tired. It doesn’t make it less difficult.
In the trenches. That’s where I am.