Protect Me From What I Want

For months I was alone in my own darkness.  I had slipped into something so impenetrably dense that I didn’t know I could even move, let alone escape it.  I feared I was irreparably damaged – my heart annihilated and life hopelessly sad.  I would sit alone for hours, in quiet despair, too tired and ashamed to look for help.  I had given up, as if my entire existence was filled with an incurable disease.  As Joan Didion said in The Year of Magical Thinking, “The power of grief to derange a mind has been exhaustively noted.”  And that’s what had happened to me – my mind became unhinged and I had no concept of reality – no concept of the goodness that was flowing all around me.

I have been changed.

When you stand on the edge of life and contemplate a jump, it is impossible to come back uninterrupted.  My mind and heart will never be what they were. I will never again know the safety of a life untouched by mental illness.  I will never not remember what it felt like to plan a death – to write letters to my family and closest friends, to think about what would happen to my things, my dog, my body.  I will always know how easy it felt to decide it was the end – that it felt better than whatever life had left for me. I will never be able to shake the memory of that hell.

Remembering, however, is important on the journey to win myself back.

I remember the depth of that grave I’d been digging. I remember how hard I worked to climb out and walk away.  I remember the painful fight to start shedding a thick husk of shame and self-hatred.  I remember my soul dwelling in the darkness before, one day, I found some determination to  ride out the journey through hell and rise up.

I remember looking for directions on how to get better.  I researched and questioned, Googled and read.  Nothing helped – there were no answers to be found.  My spiritual beliefs left me with no solid answers of how to handle this situation.  I wanted a teacher – I just wanted someone to tell me exactly what to do, what to say and how to behave.  I wanted it all to be perfect; RIGHT.  But this was my journey, Linsey’s path, not some generic tread stretched before me.  It was new ground, broken only as I traveled it – each new step, one foot in front of the other.  There was no easy answer, regardless of how much I begged and even prayed for them.  I knew that I was the only one who could save me and, like John of the Cross, “I had no light to guide but the fire that burned inside my chest.” I was the only one who could guide me back home.