I Go to Seek

I’m addicted to seeking adventure.

Note how I said that. It’s not the adventure itself (though they’re generally pretty legit), but the journey to that adventure that I’m addicted to.

I love to look, plan, search. I’m built for it.

That seems to be a theme among story tellers and world adventurers, from recent phenomenons like John Green to age-old favorites like A.A. Milne (Winnie the Pooh 😉 ). The idea of planning and working towards an event being greater than the event itself is reflected throughout their art.

I tweeted a while ago that I’ve always been the kind of person who views life like a check list and that I want to complete as much as possible before I die. Though I also mentioned I’ve accepted this about myself (and I have), within this addiction to wanderlust lies a hidden battle for me.

You see, with every setting of the sun, I have less time to scratch out the items on that list. So when things slow down, when change doesn’t happen quickly enough, when the list grows at a rate faster than it can be crossed off.. well I shudder.

The lack of pursuing adventure is, perhaps, the greatest factor that urges me deeper into the dark valley of depression.

Let me pause to say that I’m not trying to be dramatic here. I’m just writing as fast as I can to keep up with whatever is pouring out of my heart in this moment.

Depression.

It’s another topic I don’t mention much for two very frustrating reasons. Reason One: the “just get over it” stigma that everyone associates with it. Reason Two: the “why don’t you just pray that demon away” stigma that Christians associate with it. Yes, some depression is a whimsical call for attention, and some of it is a spiritual attack. BUT. Some of it is unrest, a chemical alteration in your brain’s ability to perceive the world.

And unfortunately, it’s a nasty side effect of life-limiting chronic illnesses like Fibromyalgia.

I don’t take the term “depression” lightly. I was diagnosed by several doctors, so please know that I’m not just calling the ebb and flow of life “depression.” I’m talking about the dark creature that haunts your waking and sleeping hours with whispers of anger, defeat, self-loathing. The heavy, suffocating sadness that sits on your chest and laughs at you while you try, struggle, to breathe. The lying, snaking tongue which convinces you that you don’t know how and aren’t worth trying to learn.

It maliciously wanders into the pathways of my mind on a frequent basis, and it takes special enjoyment in torturing me when life gets too quiet. When change stops coming my way and I’m forced to sit on the same couch, staring out the same windows for days.. weeks.. months.

Thank you, Fibromyalgia.

J-Freaking-K.

After all of my reading, studying and researching, it is with unwavering faith that I can say my favorite quote is “I go to seek a great perhaps.” These words were first spoken on the deathbed of the French monk Francois Rabelais in 1553, and they have since traveled the world and ages in the works of many known and unknown artists. It resonates with us.

I have a poster of this simple phrase-turned-mantra situated above my kitchen sink, surrounded by pictures I’ve taken on some of my journeys. It reminds me that there is always a perhaps. There is always something to seek. There is always a reason for passion.

Or, to paraphrase Jane Austen, there is always the happiness that comes from the expectation of happiness.

All I have to do is plan, then go.

I was sitting at my work desk a couple of weeks back, staring at my too-bright computer screens, reading the flood of requests coming in from coworkers who needed my assistance. The same requests, day in and day out. Paralyzingly dull, mundane tasks.

When did I get stuck in such a rut?

Rise with the sun, go to work, eat dinner, fall asleep before the sun can even set.

Sure, I’ve been battling a nasty, lingering flare up. But is that my only excuse?

And if it is, can I find the will power to overcome it?

Not without plans. Something to reach for. To anticipate. To seek.

So I set aside my work for a short time and started planning. I wanted to cram as much adventure as this weary body could possibly take into my 2017. With each hand scrawled note of places to see, hours to drive, items to pack, the weight of that depression began to lift.

Four trips planned and I’m not through this bout yet, but I’m muddling my way to the other side.

When I wake up in the morning, the sun’s glow slowly filtering into my room, I remind myself of what’s to come before I have the chance to ponder what is. It inspires me, fills my lungs with breath, makes the unbearable in-and-out of the day bearable.

On Saturday, my sister and I road tripped to Lake Erie. The change of scenery gave my legs the strength to stand back up; that muddled crawl turned into a walk.

I live for change.

I believe that’s why God called me to what He has, He knew I could never be content with sitting still. I need Him and the adventure He beckons me to. I need to plan. To seek. To go.

I’ve got an estimated hours 417,421 hours left. I don’t intend to waste them.

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I Go to Seek

Talk about it.

Life is absolutely ridiculously hard and having chronic illnesses and family drama doesn’t help ease the load of learning to manage a budget all your own and survive those rough college finals. If you decide to add pursuing dreams now (instead of waiting for twenty five thousand years) to the list- well you’re in for a treat.

The kind that tastes like moldy bread.

I don’t actually know what that tastes like… just roll with me.

My first years of becoming an adult were really hard. Cause duh. It’s that way for everyone!

But seriously. When I turned 19, I was a workaholic putting on a huge outdoor event for a thousand people, facing my dad’s sudden diagnosis with stage three cancer and the start of a whole crappy chronic-illness adventure of my own. When I was 20, I focused on recovering from the death of my grandpa and a dear friend, struggling to come to grips with my FMS diagnosis, trying to heal from a childhood trauma that was finally being addressed, and climbing my way out of the murky depths of fear after my parents suddenly got divorced. Then I hit 21 and life seemed to get better only to hit another really rough patch with the fibro and the heartbreak of that on-again-off-again relationship I keep bringing up, oh and my entire life will change starting on August 1st.. but I’ll get to that on August 1st.

I haven’t talked about it much because it gets such a bad rep in the Christian department- but all of this made me severely depressed. Wishing-death-on-myself depressed.

On the outside I was a strong shoulder for my family and friends and anybody who needed me; on the inside I was a desolate wilderness of heartache and desperation to feel anything other than this gnawing pit of hatred and sadness.

I remember having a very frank conversation with a friend in which I off-handedly told her during a rare soul-purge: “If I didn’t think it’d land me in hell, I’d definitely have killed myself by now.”

I know that’s an ugly thing to say, especially for a Christian… I know we aren’t supposed to say things like that or admit to thinking things like that, but it was the God’s honest truth. I’m embarrassed to share that truth, but as I’ve said before- I don’t believe in secrets. I was in a really, really dark place.

I didn’t talk to anyone about it, just kept it all trapped inside and pretended not to feel it.

Eventually, I didn’t feel it. I wasn’t a happy person, I just became good at boxing up and shoving the emotions of pain into my heart’s creepy attic.

I hid behind snarky-but-true comments and cynical laughter that had the whole world thinking I was hurting but okay.

I was drowning in frustration. I was angry at everyone around me (I still struggle with this) and wanted to slap or punch literally everyone for the dumbest stuff. I never did, of course, but I wanted to.

So mom suggested I (read: forced me to) see a therapist. I think I only had three sessions with the lady in total, but they helped.

You may be wondering why I shared all of that. Well this is it:

It’s okay to talk about it. In fact you should. And if you can’t bring yourself to unload your problems on friends and family, it’s okay to see a “shrink” and it’s okay to cry about all your problems to a stranger.

I didn’t waltz out of those sessions feeling like Queen Rachel of the Happy Village Full of Happy People, but I did come out with a better grasp on reality.

The therapist helped me acknowledge my pain (emotional and physical) and helped me logic-out what I was feeling about others.

She reminded me that it’s okay to feel.

Because of her, I’ve slowly been dragging those boxes down from the attic. I’ve been sifting through them over time and I’m nowhere near finished. But it’s working. Some of the pain is being unloaded from my heart as I empty the boxes.

My method has been writing my memoir(s?) because my therapist jokingly suggested I write a soap opera about my life. I’ll show her. I’m definitely worth a NYT Bestseller over some lame soap.

Kidding…

Sort of.

Anyways- there have been some total and complete meltdowns along the way. I randomly terrified a friend by dumping all the hate and pain and sadness I’d been trapping in my heart’s attic in a very not ladylike, not Christlike, manner on them (not the method I suggest for talking about it)… don’t worry, I repented for it all later. And just Friday night, I had a middle of the night melt where I bawled like a baby to my mom and Thomas and Sarah (which was a weird role-reversal thing that I’m not sure I liked).

I still have a lot of crap to go through. I should probably schedule another session because some old resentments have started to flare up and I’m starting to feel that suffocating anxious-depression-and-I-hate-all-people-everywhere thing again.

But I’m healing.

Grief is hard. Life is hard.

It doesn’t have to be faced silently.

And it’s not all in your head (or maybe it is, the therapist can help you determine that – some of my issues were just in my head). It’s okay to tell someone about it. I promise you, it’ll help.

So if you’re barely breathing because feeling is just too painful, get help.

You are so very incredibly worth it.

Have you ever seen a therapist? What are your thoughts on it all- did it help? Do you keep things pent up or do you generally dump all your problems out via words?

Talk about it.