In order to authentically represent my 60th year, I’ve tried not to edit out low points. It’s hard. Best-face-forward is so ingrained. Though I believe forced optimism can be positively therapeutic – for our companions and for our selves – it has limits. Sometimes we’re sad, and it’s okay.
I sank into an emotional abyss yesterday morning. My off-island escape was a lifeline I was grasping after days mired in doldrums, then I missed the morning ferry. Stranded at the dock, I didn’t know what to do with my black sense of entrapment and uselessness.
It got better. A kind soul appeared and offered me a ride. I had a good day after all.
Strains of anxiety, depression, and mental illness thread through my family tree. Suicides are overtly devastating, but dark, awful places precede that ultimate desperation. My lows are nothing compared to what I’ve witnessed in those I love, but they’re not nothing. And they’re intensified by shame. “Look at your life! What the hell do you have to complain about?” But reason is irrelevant when the brain decides to haul us down under.
Maybe episodes of gloom have a purpose. Maybe the low-grade lows engender compassion and forgiveness, not just towards the severely afflicted, but toward our own fragile selves. Maybe they remind us to be patient, to ride out the tsunami, to remember, it gets better.
My 60th year in 60,000 words
Day 332: 228 words, TOTAL = 53,928; 6,072 remaining
Robin Clifford Wood is a writer and writing teacher. She lives in central Maine with her husband and dogs, loves to be outdoors, and enjoys ever-expanding horizons through her grown children and their multi-species families.