History Saved Me

I needed to escape.  Escape from a mind that was drowning in the sea of no serotonin. I found a lifeline.  It didn’t matter if it was a lifeline to a place of hearing about a part of history where individuals fought to continue to enslave my ancestors.  I needed a distraction and history saved me.

This was the thought I had at 115 pm yesterday.  Lying in my bed, exhausted as usual, I began to feel boredom inch in like cold wind that slipped through an old window pane.  You see, this boredom that I mention, isn’t like the temporary boredom that comes when you are unable to go on a planned nature walk due to the sudden down pour of torrential rain.  This is a type of boredom that would make you cringe at the thought of watching another second go by on the clock; a boredom that makes me angry about the idea of doing anything in life.  So I needed to escape, before the cold wind could freeze me into a state of immobility and tearful solitude.

Although I was at the brink of falling into one of depression’s traps that I have fallen into a few times before, I had enough strength in that moment to grab my phone (there have been times when I was sucked into boredom so much, that the idea of reaching for my phone was a dire feat), and search for somewhere for the girls and I to escape to (I wanted to be a good mom and was tired of depression dragging me down to the point where me not doing something, sometimes affected the girls not doing something).  I’ve noticed that distraction, doing something before I get too low, has become a notion of mental life and death in my daily fight with depression.  I needed mindfulness; the warm sun on my skin to distract me from the pain in my head, the birds chirping in my ear to help get my focus off of uncontrollable negative thoughts, and walking to take a chance at the potential of my brain being bathed in feel-good chemicals.  Anything, to get me away from complete and utter boredom.

Thank God for visit nashville.  My fight was in jeopardy and what little strength I had to scroll through my phone, gave me a solution to my problem; the Lotz house in Franklin, TN.  As I started to feel the signs of anxiety creep up in me from the turmoil that currently existed, it didn’t matter that this historic home was a museum or the museum had precious artifacts that could be accidentally damaged by my kids, but the only thing that mattered was the fact that it was Sunday and this place was one of the sparingly few family-friendly places that were still open.  So I got dressed and dressed my children, fed them their lunch, and we were in the car in record time; 30 minutes (it usually takes me at least 30 minutes to get myself ready while making sure the kids aren’t getting into any mischief)

It was now going on 230 pm and we were a quarter of the way there; the museum stopped selling tickets for their tours at 3 pm.  This time crunch didn’t help my fast beating heart or labored breathing that still lingered from the first chill I got from the cold wind creeping through the cracked window pane.  But I fought through, nonetheless, turning to singing loudly the words of Kutless on the radio, as the anxiousness persisted, coupled with the guilt from agony that came from Sydney asking me question after question that I couldn’t concentrate enough on to answer.  In that moment I felt like I was hearing nails on a chalk board.  Practically screaming now the words

When the storm of life is raging

And the thunders all I hear
You speak softly to my soul

those words rang true, but as soon as I stopped singing, I became less distracted and focused on the mental, as well as physical dysmorphia wreaking havoc inside of me.

I calmly and guiltily asked Sydney to play the quiet game.  She obliged and as if nothing else could go wrong, it was five minutes to 3 pm and Sage had her typical car blow outs that I had hoped would wait until after the outing; wishful thinking.  I had to try and take back some type of control in that moment, because if I didn’t, the emotional storm that would have taken place, due to the present situation, would have for sure sent me into a tearful, dark abyss.  It’s frustrating when others unaware of how this feels, expect you to be able to, without thinking, snap your fingers and use every coping mechanism created, as well as turn around three times and return swiftly from hell’ s kitchen to a mind space filled with unicorns and calla lilies.  Its not that simple; especially when your ability to think straight and concentrate has already been compromised by the beast itself.

At this point, standing in the parking lot less than 20 steps from the front door, it was 256 pm and all I could do was simply feel what I felt; only being able to remember what I had learned about not adding anything to the depression (guilty feelings, frustrations with my illness etc.) or take anything away from it.  I had to surrender to not surrendering; the dirty diaper happened, nothing I could do about it, it was 256 pm and there was nothing I could do about it, it was 96 degrees outside and I was sweating with no way to change this.

It just was what it was.  It just is what it is.

This is what saved me in that moment of crisis.  My heart rate began to slow, the heat became a little less of a nuisance, and if we got to the tour on time, then that would be great, but if we didn’t, getting up and making an effort to DO SOMETHING, was more of an achievement in and within itself.  It has taken me a long time to get to this line of thinking , and I am not always successful at using it or it helping me in every instance of lowness, but yesterday it did.

We made it to the last tour (YAY!).  The kids were quiet and engaged in the tales of a family that took refuge from the battle in franklin during the civil war, only to emerge afterward to find their home battered by bombs and a will to repair the home and continue living.  I was flooded with compliments from fellow tourists about how well behaved the girls were, not running around breaking 100 year old china or screaming so loud as to distract from the voice of the tour guide, and to say that this didn’t help me feel a little more better, is an understatement.  My love for old things with history and touring museums became steadily stronger than the war within myself.  For an hour, the low feelings decreased and the feelings of passion, joy, and peace, increased.

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With all that I learned yesterday, both at the museum and about my tenacity, its difficult for me to not recognize the dichotomy between the Lotz’s family experience and my own fight with depression, but it’s also impossible for me not to see some similarities in our stories.  Their insatiable will to continue living in spite of all that was destroyed around them and the gravity of how much repair needed to be done to their home (without slaves, thank you Lotz family), sums up how I want my journey with depression to be described; she continued living in spite of everything depression tried to take away from her and no matter the gravity of how much repair needed to be done within her.

So thank you Lotz family.

History saved me.

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**I do not represent or condone the history of the confederate flag pictured in my family photos.  I wanted to capture positive memories with my kids and the flag happened to be a backdrop that I do not support.

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