When you live with depression and anxiety the world seems up-side-down.
I remember reading the Magic Faraway Tree as a child and being in awe of the children who were at that time, infamously named Jo, Bessie, Fanny and of course Dick. Enid Blyton masterfully captured my imagination as I lived in her books, escaping the reality of an unfortunate childhood.
It was at the top of that faraway tree that strange lands would come and go creating unique and astounding situations for the children to manage. It’s not surprising then, that when I reminisce about those books I find myself drawn back into the land of Topsy Turvy and wonder how it is that my world often seems to be upside down. And, that no matter how hard I try, I almost always feel like an interloper in a culture that expects something from me that I am incapable of providing.
So, after a week away, living in community with a number of friends both old and new, it’s not surprising that I can be found reflecting on my ability to fit in and appear normal. And, with all due respect to those who attended; you’re all freaking loopy!! I say this of course with the greatest respect and in the context of our enduring friendship. Because, after all, that’s what friends are for!
But I digress.
Many people who do life with me, are aware that for the past 3 years I have been locked in a frustrating legal battle. The battle, that I had to start, has drained almost every fragment of emotional energy I have. And, like being at the top of the faraway tree, I feel like I’ve stuck my head through a cloud only to find there are people whose world operates quite differently to mine.
If you wanted to hear me say that I’ve become a little bitter and twisted about the experience then you’re in for a treat, because I do feel bitter and just a little resentful. It feels like everything I spent years working toward has been stolen and because of the nature of our legal system, the thief is able to simply drag the matter out until I’ve exhausted my resources. Even though I’m not a physical person, I want to punch someone, hard, and leave bruises. I want to scream about the injustice and I then want to crawl into a deep dark pit and stay there. Hidden from view.
But if there’s anything the Magic Faraway Tree taught me, it was that the experience doesn’t dictate the outcome. Sure, the experience feels like an end. It feels like a consequence of some wrongdoing. However, when I reflect, I’m able to see the experience in isolation. I can see it as time spent in a strange and wonderful land where nothing seems familiar but regardless, needed to be endured until it came time to leave.
It’s in our humanness that we’ve come to know the consequence of eating cake is weight gain or the price of speeding, is at best a speeding ticket, at worst a life. This cause and effect principle dominates our experience and leads us to believe that all our experiences must have a cause. So its easy to willingly accept we are being punished for an infraction of some invisible and unknown rule.
Of course if you’ve ever broken a speed limit you will know that often there is no consequence. And, it’s possible that you have a friend that can eat anything without putting on an extra gram. It’s even possible that someone you know has smoked cigarettes since they were a teenager and lived a full and healthy life.
What all this says to me is that rather than looking for something I did wrong that set the wheels in motion, I should let the experience happen. And, that any bitterness should remain isolated within the context of that experience. Any desire I have to beat myself up (in lieu of punching someone else) should be acknowledged and then jettisoned.
So, as I exit from this land at the top of the faraway tree I’m attempting to understand that the experience I had there, as useful as it may be as a learning opportunity, did not occur to teach me to be bitter and resentful in life. Nor did it occur because I did something wrong. It happened because it did.
If I needed evidence that I was living in a topsy-turvy world, I certainly got it. But more than that, I learned I do not have to be the same as everyone else to survive. And that just being me, no matter how screwed up I am, is perfectly acceptable.
Of course something from Enid Blyton’s writing: “The best way to treat obstacles is to use them as stepping-stones. Laugh at them, tread on them, and let them lead you to something better.” (Mr. Galliano’s Circus.)
PS: Speeding, smoking and eating cake can be hazardous to your health or the health of others. Just because it can be done doesn’t mean it should be done!
Deb Shugg is an awarded business woman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety. To contact Deb click here.
If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor. If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)