What do you mean, Hilary, “Messy”? Is everything ok? Do you need anything? I am praying for you.” So many lovelies reached out when I posted that my weekend was messy. And, y’all it was. Messy. Not devastating. It wasn’t unsurmountable. Not catastrophic. Not even terrible. Just plain messy.
What is Messy?
Messy is just life. It’s when stuff happens like a curveball; something doesn’t go the way you planned it…it is a down swing. Now, for some, there is no mess when messy happens. Why? They have mastered handling messy so well, that nothing can propel them to mess. They are enlightened or 100% mindful or whatever; have figured it out.
Messy does not look the same for any of us. My mess does not look like your mess. The way I handle it likely is not the same as how you handle yours. Extenuating circumstances may make the mess messier for some than others. Cleaning up messes is a journey to find the right tools to clean up the mess. I am still very much entrenched in that journey; however, each messy is a little bit less of a mess. (Can you say that 10 times fast!)
Did y’all know I suffer from anxiety and sometimes depression? Yep. Those yucky things that most people don’t want to talk about. And, I try to do all the things. Exercise, check. Vitamins, check. Whole foods, check (well, not all the time if I am being honest LOL). Grateful journal, check. Meet with Vicki, check. Meditate, kinda check. (this one is hard for me.) Mindfulness, not there yet. Medicate, check. For me. And, for my family. Talk to my friends, check.
And, guess what. Sh(& still gets messy. And, can bring me down in an instant. And, I can tell myself that I am so lucky. I AM lucky. The thing is, I have a damn comfortable, great life. I am not starving, freezing, without shelter, sick, or without money. I can tell myself all the stuff. But when that cloud descends, it is hard to pop my head out. It isn’t rational. It is generalized anxiety with a bit of depression mixed in and it does not discriminate.
And, that is what happened last weekend and of course, it started with some silly stuff that led to a huge blowup with a family member. We said the bad things and I stumbled and fell into the darkness. And, y’all, as some of you may know, it is freakin’ dark in there and my mind with all of its anxiety went to bad places. I started questioning my worth. My value to my family and this universe. I started believing the spoken bad words that we can say when we are angry.
My amygdala (Amy) highjacked my emotions and bam, I suck. And, it does not matter what anyone says, I am down in that little hole by myself. Oh, and the Amygdala. I learned about it in UnFu75 Yourself; it is a good read despite the profane title 🙂 You see Amy can overpower the Pre-Frontal Cortex (Tex) and push aside the Hippocampus (Hippo). I pulled this image from a kids site – it has a very simple explanation for all of this.
Of course, my family rallies around me and says all of the right words. They hug me and tell me they love me. We all cry. Aunt Judy gives me the rallying talk. Friends tell me that what I am thinking is not true. See, I AM lucky. I know that. I tell myself I don’t suck however Amy is battling Tex and pushing aside Hippo. Who is going to win up there?
Well, Tex and Hippo won, thankfully. Eventually. How? For me, I feed Tex and Hippo time and nothing. Nothing is everything. I give myself permission to stay in my pajamas wrapped up in a blanket. Permission to stare into nothingness and be if needed. Watching TV. Ignoring my phone. Working to stay present. Crying to friends and family that I am not ok. Allowing my family to take care of me. Sleep and then sleep some more. Sometimes when I feel the darkness descending, I go to sleep. Sometimes, I wake up and am better because I caught myself before I fell too far. And, sometimes, like this weekend, it takes numerous sleeps. Naps and Nights. And, focusing on one foot in front of the other.
It took three days. I feel grateful. Three days is nothing; it used to take longer. I know there are so many people for which it takes seven days, thirty days, one hundred and eighty days, three hundred and sixty five days, maybe many years. And, for some, they fall into the darkness and make a choice where they never come back. Y’all no messy is that big of a mess.
Most are lucky as they somehow through the nothing, the everything, the support or whatever, battle the way back. And, let me tell you it is both luck and hard work because sometimes, with mental health issues, you can have all the stuff and work really hard and still not be able to get back.
You are not alone. Everyone faces messy. A lot face the darkness. If your darkness is light grey, grey, black, infinite black, whatever, there are so many of us that feel your pain. We know your pain. It isn’t exactly the same as I said. It can’t be. But, we know the darkness. If you can’t find them, reach out. Reach out to a friend. To a family member. To a stranger on a hotline. Reach out to me…seriously. I know you don’t want to. But, do it. Your life and your future depend on it.
And, if you are really lucky, you can find ways to change your mindset and make the darkness lighter and shorter. You can practice discipline towards enlightenment and mindfulness. There are lots of books; there are lots because different ones resonate with different people. During my first darkness in my twenties, it was Marianne Williamson and A Return to Love. Of course, y’all know that my Glennon friends turned me on to Glennon. Soak up her wisdom. Brene. Jen. Wayne. A Course in Miracles. Chopra. Bishop. Bernstein. Oprah. Johnsey. There are so many! Practice discipline and study them. Find that glittery, gold nugget that resonates with YOU and hold on to it for dear life. And, practice it. Practice until you have armed Tex and Hippo to fight Amy (when Amy is going down the wrong path. By the way, Amy is not a villain; we need Amy. However, we need her at 1.0 – not 20.0)
The Bottom Line
Life is messy whether you have mental health issues or not. We need each other and must keep learning and loving. Recognizing we are all different, celebrating that and working together to find the motivation to put one foot in front of the other. Those footsteps you leave behind are your strength, your determination, your journey. One day you are running, the footsteps leaving a deeper impression behind you. And, you are focused on the ahead.
Do you have a tip, a book, a podcast, a program, a video or anything else to contribute? I know you do! Let’s compile a list and keep it on the website for reference. Drop a comment below and I will add it. Let’s be in this together.
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