A Horse With No Name

A Horse With No Name.

On the first part of the journey…

We have been sheltering in place, with a few store runs here and there, since March 18th. Like many of you, I was anxious. How would we pay the bills? What will happen with the kids and school? Just how bad will it get? And, for me, I wondered how will this affect my mental health? I am someone who has battled clinical depression all my life. Most of that time, I was not fully aware of my disease. In December of 2017, that changed. Since then, I have been on a journey to reclaim my life and to share my struggle so that it might be a light for others who are lost in the dark fog.

It hasn’t been an easy path. I have learned to control (mostly) my depression and anxiety. I have also learned that even knowing isn’t always a solution, but it certainly is better than being forever lost at sea.  I often refer to my toolbox when talking about depression. By that, I mean the number of ways I control and counter it.  Medicine, therapy, walking, meditating, writing, nature, routines, etc. are all tools in the toolbox. Checklists are also very useful.

So, there we were, on the first day of our shelter-in-place journey. To my surprise, I transitioned quite well. I became less anxious and my mood was generally positive all day long. Time spent with family has been wonderful. We played games, watched some movies together. We have worked in the yard together. The kids lost interest in that activity after day 1, but it was great while it lasted. I think if I push, I can get them back out there. I have also been organizing my garage. Clutter is always bad. Finding a place for everything and creating a few clear surfaces is therapy in and of itself. It is great to get rid of things you don’t need. So long, extra set of washing machine hoses. Good riddance, box of old cables and wires. I found one bag that was filled with more bags. I am pretty sure it has been tucked away in a drawer since 1997.

The first few weeks of shelter-in-place was like stepping from a surreal environment that went by so fast, most of it was blurry, to a much more real, vivid life of color and beauty, I was off the hamster wheel and free to look around; free to enjoy the simpler things in life.

I was looking at all the life

There were plants and birds and rocks and things

I was all of the sudden on a whole new path. I was on a respite from the grind and I was noticing all the wonder around me.  The grass became greener. The sun and sky felt like battery chargers for my soul. I was now traveling along a path devoid of stress and anxiety; a path with far less distractions. I got away from all the chaos and the noise. But I had no idea where this path would lead me. As the song says,

I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name

It felt good to be out of the rain

In the desert you can remember your name

‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain

New routines began to form. Some good, some bad. But I wasn’t really paying attention. I was living in the moment and happy. So, I was complacent and unaware. Last week, I began to slide. Unknowingly, my demons were catching up to me. Life started getting foggy. I have been so tired and achy these last few days. I have started losing interest in all of the wonderful elements of life. This morning I woke up feeling like I needed to go right back to bed. I scrolled Facebook for a few moments with no real interest. I looked outside and didn’t see my new little realm, but instead, I saw heat and discomfort and unbearable brightness. I didn’t have much to say to anyone and after forcing myself to take care of a couple of “to do’s,” I found my way back to bed. It seems depression had found me again.

After two days in the desert sun

My skin began to turn red

After three days in the desert fun

I was looking at a river bed

And the story it told of a river that flowed

Made me sad to think it was dead

You see I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name

It felt good to be out of the rain

In the desert you can remember your name

‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain

The difference between now and two years ago is, I caught it. Something actually triggered in me yesterday when I was in the car with Mindy and the girls. This song came on and got me reflecting a bit. It took me until late today to really catch it, but catch it I did! There are many times when I am “melancholy” but aware. This is now one of those times. I can’t really change the way I feel, but now I can utilize those tools I was talking about to keep this low from turning into something more powerful and destructive. Until my brain stops forcing me to sorrow, I will ride it out. I will stay the course and slowly my path will become clear again. The fog will lift and I will sense the wonder of life again.

We still don’t know what is next with this Covid 19 business. I still don’t know where this new path is taking me, still no name for this horse. But I do know everything will be alright.

After nine days I let the horse run free

‘Cause the desert had turned to sea

There were plants and birds and rocks and things

there was sand and hills and rings

The ocean is a desert with it’s life underground

And a perfect disguise above

Under the cities lies a heart made of ground

But the humans will give no love

You see I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name

It felt good to be out of the rain

In the desert you can remember your name

‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain

Where are you on your journey? Are you in the desert or in the rain? Mental health is tricky. Depression and anxiety are insidious. Covid19 has shaken the rhythm of all our lives. Here are a few tools to give yourself a mental checkup and boost.

Take a moment and rate your emotional state. Think about how you feel and how you have felt recently. Make yourself aware. If you are feeling low or foggy, change your routine, use a daily checklist, and find a way to talk about it. The buddy system works! Anyone who might struggle with depression should have someone, friend, family member, therapist, doctor to communicate with every week. Taking inventory and talking about how you feel on a regular basis helps empower you to become aware of and control the destructive forces of depression.

3 most powerful anti-depressant activities:

GET UP!

GET OUT!

GO SPREAD KINDNESS!

Be safe, my friends. Be love. Be kind.

One thought on “A Horse With No Name”

  1. That was incredible and I relate to everything you said. You really do have a gift for shining a light on the truth of depression. I feel sad because I feel it was me and my family dna that caused you to struggle with this too.

    Like

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