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18 September 2020 – Alyssa Mages, CVO

As this week is drawing to a close, I find myself in a bit of a downturn.  Buried amidst self-doubt & worry – too many sources of which to list here – and feeling the weight of each one pulling me further down.

Typically I tend to fall in the glass-half-full category, and I’ve earned the moniker of IO – incorrigibly optimistic – because I excel at finding the silver lining, the good in everyone, the light in the darkness. Except when I can’t.  Because sometimes it’s too much.  Even us IO folks have our moments of pessimism, we just ignore, suppress and project the opposite.

This process takes considerable effort that in any given day we may or may not have the time to enact.  It is also one that is unique for each of us, as what works for me may not be what lifts you…

I’ve found that I need to allow myself a wallow, or two, to really dive into whatever it is that I’m feeling & why.  I check out for a bit – read or binge watch – wrapped up in myself and a blanket.  Fortunately for my microcosm, I have gotten a bit better at cluing my people in.  Letting them know that I’m not all right, but that is alright, I’m here but I’m not present, I love you but please leave me be and I’ll get up and on with this, just not yet.  I realize I’m incredibly lucky to have their understanding and support to say and do this PRN.

I’ve found if I don’t let these scary, sad – insert depression-like descriptive here – feelings have their moment of recognition, they get bigger and more demanding, they take over.  I invite them in.  Not forever, but so they have their moment(s).  Usually with that recognition, acceptance & attention, they hang out for a bit, then get a to-go box and head.

Then comes their counterparts.  You know these guys too – doubt & criticism.  I’m even less of a fan of them, but again let’s get on with it, c’mon in – one drink limit though, after cocktail hour out you get!  At this point I’m starting to re-engage and get out of my head, but the time/space continuum makes it feel like an eternity…thankfully it’s never nearly as long as it feels.

Which metaphor to then apply to the final stages…the light at the end of the tunnel?  The rose amongst the thorns?  One set of footprints instead of two?  Symbolism doesn’t really belong here for me; I have to create this introspective space.  Visualizing myself flat on my back, floating in some body of water – it changes based upon the season, the intensity or the inner turbulence – and relaying the message that it’s time to stop drifting, time to open my eyes, and start sculling until I’m finally ready, willing & able to swim to shore.

Sometimes I undertake this dynamic process alone.  Other times I reach out – though rarely, and I should do so more – but I did finally reach a point where I needed more than self-awareness, additional support beyond the love of family and friends.  I asked for medical help and in doing so, took the next step in my wellbeing journey in order to grow & heal. 

Asking for help is a sign of strength.  Recognizing that you need more is a sign of wisdom.  Taking the help that is offered is a sign of growth.  We who work on our mental fitness are not broken things that need to be fixed, we are dynamic beings in a cycle that simply needs a different catalyst to enact a necessary change.  Reminding ourselves that we are not perfect, but perfectly imperfect, and each day we get a little closer to being okay with that.

Yes, I am incorrigibly optimistic because I will fight like hell to get myself back into a positive place in order to be there for someone else who is needing to climb up and out.  I may fall, a lot.  I’ll likely get bruised and dirty.  I’m going to make mistakes and will have to start over. But I have not, am not, and will not give up.   What’s incredible is that I know I’m not alone.  So let’s get on up, together.

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