Native as the Mountain Laurel that brushes against my arms, my roots press through years of shed foliage, decaying fungi, and limitless ecosystems to burst through the rock below in search of a fresh water source to replenish and fight off a nasty blight that is trying to penetrate its way into the most fertile part of the soil that surrounds me.
Growing up in the mountains has given me an edge, a rigidity similar to the giant conifers that regally stand guard beneath the often craggy peaks in our range.
On more than one occasion I have had the strength and unquenchable desire to see the world below from the grand peaks towering over me.
I’ve ran several trails in the Blue Ridge Mountains over the years, and the trail I love the most winds up to the top of the highest peak this side of the Mississippi River.
The rocky steps are uncountable, and many parts are painfully steep, caked in mud, and difficult to climb. However, once you get to the top and your breath is taken, the struggle to the top fades as you see some clouds above and below.
The green mountains rolling into blue, while the nipping air kisses your face is a welcome reprieve from the sweat inducing, muscle straining, knee wrenching difficulty from the run up the trail.
Sitting in a rocky cleft, drinking luke warm water, I look down to see an unpigmented, long white feather. The vane was strong as was the hollow quill, and I couldn’t keep from picking it up.
Twirling it in my fingers, I ponder about which bird it may have come from, how people used feathers as embellishments on clothing, and how difficult it must’ve been to use a quill pen.
Holding it between my index finger and thumb in contrast against the mountains below me, an upward gust of wind came and ripped it away. I watch for a moment as it rolls upward into the sky then out of view.
This is my cue to leave as the winds are starting to pick up. I make it down several steep parts with a few more to go. Then it happens.
A root from an overly large oak grabs my Nike, uprooting me face over toes rolling and bouncing me down this last steep descent of this trail.
Crickets chirping in my right ear pushed me to open my eyes as the iron odor of blood oozing from my forehead makes its way down the bridge of my nose.
I try to move my head, but with every micrometer of movement, I could sense the cracks in my skull couldn’t withstand any extra pressure if it was going to hold itself together.
Out of the corner of my eye, falling from twilight sky peaking through tall canopy, as graceful as a dancer, spinning faster and faster and faster until it meets its final resting place on my fractured skull.
That white feather I adored on top of the mountain carried just enough weight on impact to issue the final blow to my cracked cranium, crumbling beneath its soft yet firm beauty.
The last two weeks of weaning off one of many failed anti-depressants threw me quickly above the clouds where views are clear and winds effortlessly allow me to soar.
Full blown mania is euphoric.
For those of you who aren’t quite familiar with mania, it’s kind of like having a tired, depressed, and neurotic friend put on a coat and suddenly become the life of the party with rapid conversations, severely increased energy, and impulses to do things that they would never do while in a normal state.
I would never describe myself as a high energy person. I would never describe myself as hyper. I would never describe myself as a fast talker. I would never have impulses to do things that could be potentially hurtful to myself and others…
Except for when I’m manic.
Now that I know what it is, I can call it out and map out my symptoms while realizing what is truly me and what is being caused by my manic state.
I texted my cousin with a funny meme, and the caption “What up, mania!” Because she knows. Gets it.
While the manic state feels great, I know enough about my biological patterns to know that there will be a steep, bloody fall.
After 20 hours of sleep over the course of nearly two weeks (you should get about 112 hours over this amount of time), a bout with a double ear infection/inflammation thing which I was given Prednisone by a very inexperienced and unknowing PA (I just learned that Prednisone can cause strong symptoms of mania or other complications with people who are on anti-depressants,) and an ever present realization that I still haven’t found any sort of medication to make me feel better; caused the chirping, stridulating voices to circulate in my mind.
“The only things that you’re good at is messing things up.”
“You are ruining your family’s lives.”
“You literally have nothing to offer the world.”
“You are such a screw up, and everyone feels that way.”
“You’re the literal worst.”
One problem as light as a feather caused those beliefs to shatter everything in my mind with a chaotic chorus singing louder by the second.
After making it home from church, I had already chewed down a couple of anti-anxiety meds, and was hoping to just collapse in bed.
My hands were shaking as those aforementioned beliefs echoed in unison. Trying to open my rice pudding, when my husband came over to hug me and see if I was alright.
“I’m fine. I’m just sorry that I constantly screw up things for everyone. I’m just tired of being a burden and a nuisance – a ruiner. “
Since my husband isn’t a cruel hearted human being, he told that what I was believing wasn’t true and yada yada yada.
The rage flew up inside of me as I came to the realization that I couldn’t think of one thing that I wasn’t destroying in some way or another.
Still struggling to open my rice pudding, the slight frustration from that and the overflowing self-hatred; I could no longer contain myself.
Stomping out of the kitchen, screaming, “I’m so sick of being such a screw up – for messing up EVERYTHING!!!” The rice pudding met the wall in our stairwell with the same force that carried my voice three houses down. I turned and grabbed my purse, swung open the front door nearly unhinging it.
I don’t know where I was going to go, or what I was going to do, but I was leaving.
At this point my husband had come out, and I told him that I didn’t have my keys because they were still inside.
I got to the porch and he said that I wasn’t going anywhere. I cracked the door open enough to grab my keys, and turned with the determination to plow through him.
He’s got quite a few inches and pounds on me, but I put up a good fight. He wouldn’t let me get past him even though I was screaming something to the effect of “I’m leaving. I can’t be here anymore.” Oh, and was hitting him over and over again with my purse so he would let me go.
Finally he just picked me up and put me down on the couch where I just laid wailing because of the overflow of pain that was oozing out of me.
The worst part was seeing my kids, sitting at the table with their lunch in front of them, bawling almost as hard as I was.
I started gagging, and had to make it to the bathroom in case I was going to vomit. I laid on the bathroom floor repetitively saying “I’m sorry, babies. Mommy loves you.”
Finally finding the strength to get off the floor, I went to them, wrapped my arms around them and cried: “I’m so sorry. This is not your fault. Mommy loves you more than anything.”
I sobbed repetitively, as they looked down silently with disbelief and terror.
My husband blocking the front door, left me with the option to crawl upstairs. I made it to my bedroom floor where I buried my face deep into the carpet and wept for my children.
Getting mad at God, I sprang to my knees and screamed “Do you even hear me?”
Back on my face I kept saying “My kids don’t deserve this. Please let them forget this. Please don’t let them be screwed up because of me.
Please don’t let them remember me.
There it was.
I didn’t care if I ever got up off that floor and hoped I could just stop breathing. However, I most certainly didn’t want my children to have to have a lifetime of dealing with me and my instability.
My eyes cracked open to see my husband.
With shredded vocal cords, I muttered “Please just take the kids and leave. They can’t be around this.”
My mom whisked the kids away from the disaster, and I only remember my husband getting me in bed and out of the tangled, strangling clothing that were less like a tourniquet than they were a dirty cast pitifully holding my deteriorating body and soul together.
I apparently took some old sleep pills, and fell face over toes to sleep.
You don’t bounce back in a mere day after losing complete balance and bouncing down from rock to rock to finally rock bottom.
I think it’s only fitting that my 30th post in my 30 POST TRUTH CHALLENGE would be one wrought with pain and injury.
To be honest, I feel like I’m back to day one.
Roots ripped and exposed to the cool air.
Fortunately, it’s difficult to completely remove every single root, no matter how tiny, from the ground they’ve broken through.
Thanks for seeing my journey. For the tears you’ve shed as you relate your own falling downs to mine. For sharing your bleeding hearts and bruised minds, and for allowing me to see that little shine of hope that for some has been buried in the sediment of years of pain and under a steady brook of tears and sweat.
Let’s keep going, shall we?