One of my favorite childhood memories is going camping in Missouri with my family. We went with multiple other families, so there was a good size group of us. The main draw was the tubing and the canoeing we would do on the creek that flowed next to the campground. We also swam a ton. The rope swing is a nice memory! My favorite memory was navigating the unpredictable creek, in either a tube or a canoe, as it flowed along its path.
In the morning, we would load up on a bus and were transported to the starting point of our water adventure. With sunscreen applied, we would head out for a day on the water.
As the creek flowed there were places where the creek became wider and deeper. The water moved pretty slow in these spots. A good place for a picture. A good place to rest as you slowly go with the flow. This part of the journey is more predictable and easier to navigate. Sometimes the creek would narrow and become more shallow. Sometimes there were rocks and trees down along the path. Sometimes the creek made several bends. This resulted in a more turbulent flow of water. You had to pay attention to where you were going and to where you wanted to get.
These patches of fast turbulent flow would not last very long, but they took the most focus to get through to the next slow and easy point of the trip. You are paddling and doing your best to turn to the left and to the right. You are doing your best to navigate this difficult stretch of water.
Sometimes, even with using all of your focus, you might run into a downed tree trunk or rock. Sometimes the current would even tip your tube or canoe and you had to continue with the flow until you could get back into whichever vessel you are using.
You do the best you can as someone who maybe does this once a year and is far from being a master of the currents. I enjoyed the rush the rapids would give me and the challenge of trying to get through without tipping or running into something. I made being successful through these obstacles a mission. I failed some, but through the nerves, I had fun.
And then the calm points of the creek would return. You enjoy the break, but you know the journey isn’t over yet as there will be more rough spots and more unpredictable areas up ahead.
But we keep moving forward.
It’s been a while since I have written. I’ve had a bit of a creative block going on over the last couple of months. I haven’t drawn much or made any new music. Every time I would try to write, draw, or play music, I just wouldn’t be into what I was doing. The activities generated no excitement or the ideas just would not come to me.
I’ve allowed myself a break.
This break doesn’t mean that I’ve gotten out of my canoe. Far from it. I’m still moving with the flow of my creek as it moves on down its path. I have still hit parts of the journey where the going is easier and I have still been hitting the currents where I have to do what I can to keep moving forward and also to not tip my canoe.
I’ve gotten tired. I’ve rested. I’ve struggled. I’ve had some successes as well.
The last time I wrote, I mentioned being in the middle of some medication changes. I’m not super happy, but I have accepted it, that this is a process. I am on yet another new medication.
I was hopeful about the other I was on. It really did help my depression, but I couldn’t shake the constant nervous feeling I was having and it was really bringing me down. It got to the point that I didn’t know what I should do. I like not being depressed, but I knew I couldn’t keep feeling the nervousness that I was experiencing. So I contacted my psychiatrist.
During the office visit I was able to get, we talked about how I was feeling. It was then decided to stop the newest medication and go on another. Go on one that didn’t “activate” as much or “activate” the same way as the other one.
The nervousness subsided within a couple of days. I felt like I had entered smoother slower moving waters. I was excited for the possibilities this new med could provide. I really was most relieved that my nerves could take a much needed “rest”.
July 9th is a huge date for my mental health journey. It marked three years since I asked for help and admitted myself to the hospital. It also marks three years since I’ve had a drop of alcohol. Two huge milestones in my life. The creek was still moving slowly along. I felt good.
And then the rapids returned and I have been forced to navigate them again.
After this milestone date for me, I began having some depression. Not too bad until it started to get worse. I started to lay in bed more and spent parts of a week basically in bed not wanting to interact with the outside world. I went to work, but that was about it for my effort.
As happy as I am for getting to three years without alcohol and three years since I asked for help outside of myself, I was feeling frustrated. I was also feeling disappointed. Why am I still searching for answers after all of these years and all I really want is a break from it all and a chance to feel “normal” for any stretch of time.
Yes, a lot of good things have happened to me and I’ve come a long way, but it gets lost when your brain goes to such a dark place.
I absolutely had thoughts of giving up. What’s the point if this is just how life is going to be? Constantly searching.
I really got dark. I hated it, but after awhile I couldn’t shake the frustration and disappointment. “I have to try something”, the little voice left in my head was telling me.
I called my psychiatrist office. My feeling was I thought I might be under medicated with the new medicine. I called to see about raising my dosage. I received a message back that she didn’t want to raise it up just yet. I was surprised by this answer. The message stated that this particular medication might take longer than others to really take effect.
Well shit. So I guess I’m just screwed. I had no choice but to let it work for a longer period of time.
So I’ve waited. I’ve tried to be patient. I am happy to report that my depression has been improving. I’m not laying in bed all of the time. My thoughts aren’t as dark and scary as they were being. It feels like the rapids are smoothing out for a calmer section of the creek.
A calm I am ready for. A calm that I need right now.
I’ve had some really good moments, as well, over this time of creative block and during the time of the above events I have described.
I’ve been to a few concerts this summer. The crowds remain to bother me. I may never get to a point where they don’t bother me again. The good thing is each one got easier and easier. Ion the end, everything always improved once the music started and I could lose myself into it.
This past weekend we just went camping with some good friends of ours. Another couple we know. We have taken a yearly camping trip the last 3-4 years. This year we went over to Indiana where the campground offered tubing and canoeing. The canoeing was closed due to low water levels, but they did offer tubing.
I sat out tubing this round as I wasn’t feeling up to it. My wife and our friends went and had a great time. Even though the water was low, adding another element to the equation, they had a good time. They navigated the slow smooth areas, the fast rapid areas, and also had to endure dragging their tubes across some really shallow areas.
They made it through all of it. They even made it through the tough times along the trip. The made it through with smiles on their faces.
This is all any of us want. We want to successfully navigate the flow of the creek that is our lives. Even when the going gets rough, we have to keep moving on down the creek. There will be tough areas we may not be as comfortable navigating, but we find a way. We even have to drag ourselves over some areas, but we keep moving forward.
I’m hoping that I’m coming into some smoother waters. I’m tired of the unpredictable parts that I feel like I’ve been going through. I’m ready for them.
I hope you are navigating the smooth waters right now, but if you aren’t and you feel stuck in the current…keep going. Things will smooth out. There will be other obstacles, but we get better at navigating each one of them the more we paddle through.
Remember, It Is OK To Not Be OK. It Is OK To Need Help. It Is OK To Ask For Help. By doing these things, we allow ourselves to move forward again along our creek’s path and find some smoother water to rest and grow stronger in.
You Got This! I Got This! We Got This! Let’s keep walking this journey together.
Have a great day!
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