I woke up this morning at 1:23 a.m. I don’t have to work today so I did a bad thing…I picked up my phone and started scrolling through Facebook. I watched stupid videos that made me laugh, avoided the ones that would make me cry, and generally let an hour of my life drain away, never to be returned. Then the inevitable happened.
It was accidental but inevitable. In a list of “People you might know,” a person popped up. One I never wanted to see. But there she was. And suddenly sleep was no longer an option. I just stared. My heart rate increased. And I felt validation.
Validation that I was, indeed, fat, ugly, worthless, a fool, and quite simply not worth anyone’s time.
Social Media is a double-edged sword that I find I cannot live without. I love being able to laugh at silliness, rejoice in my friends’ lives, grieve with those who hurt, and escape reality for a while. But reality prowls in the background, constantly lurking and seeking a way to get in through the bubble of escapism I have created. And when it succeeds, the open wound that is my life is exposed to raw, visceral pain.
After my heart rate slowed, I forced myself to move on. The very next post I came across was an article written by Wil Wheaton. It was titled “My name is Wil Wheaton. I live with chronic depression and generalized anxiety. I am not ashamed.”
Wil Wheaton is an actor famous for many roles, but most notably in “Stand By Me,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and most recently “The Big Bang Theory” in which he plays himself.
I was stunned to read his article. I found myself glued to every word. He spoke a language in which I, too, am fluent–a language of panic attacks, fear, sadness, existing instead of living, mental illness.
One passage in particular struck me like a lightning bolt.
“We can remember and we can remind each other, that there is no finish line when it comes to mental illness. It’s a journey, and sometimes we can see the path we’re on all the way to the horizon, while other times we can’t even see five feet in front of us because the fog is so thick. But the path is always there, and if we can’t locate it on our own, we have loved ones and doctors and medications to help us find it again, as long as we don’t give up trying to see it.”
It’s a journey. The path is always there.
I have felt for so long that the path I’m on leads nowhere, because I have been stuck or walking in circles because the fog has encapsulated me. I have stumbled, fallen down and wanted to curl up on the ground, giving up, not moving forward. Sometimes, I simply say, “it’s just too hard.”
Then something–a hand from a family member or friend, a song on my playlist, a post on that two-faced social media engine, a Bible verse–reaches out and taps me on the shoulder. And for a moment, the fog lifts. It lifts just enough so I can see that path. It hasn’t disappeared. It’s still there, beckoning, calling, and the sunlight offers hope and promise.
Wil Wheaton ended his article with the statement, “My name is Wil Wheaton. I live with chronic depression, and I am not ashamed.”
I keep waiting for the fog to lift completely, for the depression to end, for life to magically become happy and wonderful and enlightened. But as my very wise and wonderful sister once said to me, “It’s not a destination. It’s a journey.”
Miley Cyrus called it, “The Climb.” They’re both right.
There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometime’s I’m gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb.
Thank you, Wil Wheaton, for tapping me on the shoulder and helping me to my feet. The fog has lifted for a moment and I can see the way…at least enough to take the next few steps.