I don’t know about you, but I think I’m always just a little shy of nuts. I have more than my share of odd thoughts, desires to chop my hair off and dye it all blue, I fantasize about chucking the American dream and becoming a gypsy, I named my most recent fish after a nasty creature from Star Wars, and my idea of a good time involves running miles and miles at a time or taking a chainsaw to disgusting bush in our backyard.
Most of the time, I like my version of sorta crazy. I recently came to realize that the line between good crazy and not-good crazy is thin as a tightrope and must be walked with extreme care.
The last four months (bandits and integration disorder and insurance mess, oh my!) got me to a bad place and a few weeks ago, I realized I was becoming not-good crazy. I was having really bad dreams, I couldn’t sleep, my heart was racing when I should have been resting, my thoughts were fragmented and bizarre, my depression was worsening for no apparent reason, my chronic pain was slapping me down far too often, and my daily pace was frenetic. It came to a head one evening when Greg told me I looked stressed out and asked what I needed. I usually have a good answer to that question, but this time, I sat for a moment scanning my brain for what would help. I finally blurted out, “I have NO idea what I need” and broke down and cried.
My version of crazy does not usually involve mental breakdowns, so when they happen, I like to pay attention.
If you know me even a little, you understand that 2011 has not been a super fun year. The events have been bad enough (bandits, Jake’s therapy beginning, health insurance, rough waters financially as a result of all that, adjusting to a new town, being far from my support system, etc.), but the real trauma has been undoing and dealing with all the events. I won’t even go into all of what I’ve had to do to make things right again, but I feel safe in saying that I was working my ass off for ten to twelve hours a day, spending hours on the phone, and many nights went to bed feeling helpless and frustrated.
I also had a moderate case of depression, which in speaking with other cancer survivors, we all struggle with (because cancer wasn’t fun enough all by itself, thank you very much). I was dealing, though, and I had all my rules for what I could do, couldn’t do, should do, had to do and felt like I had a handle on it.
I was so very wrong!
My rules, as healthy and good as they were, combined with the extreme amount of pressure I was facing to get things done, seriously backfired. If, every single day, I didn’t accomplish a mountain of things, I felt guilty. Guilty enough that I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t think straight, and I certainly wasn’t all that fun to be around! I felt extreme pressure to do, do, do, all the freaking time. I could never rest, even though resting was one of my rules, because I felt like I should be accomplishing something tangible and real. I felt like I shouldn’t just sit and play with Jake because I needed to file something, call someone, work on another form, DO something. I never let myself have fun. I always wanted to go for walks, take pictures, sit on my back porch swing (which really is a place, not just a weird blog title), read, write, just…rest. Pretty much, if I wanted to do something, I denied myself, because I felt compelled to be “productive”. If I actually did the thing I wanted to do, the guilt set in.
When Greg asked me what I needed and I couldn’t answer him, I realized I was in trouble. When my brain became a swirl of guilt, frustration, anger, it overwhelmed everything right and good.
So, I spent a few days being still. I thought. I prayed. I cried. I laughed at myself. I took some time to figure out why I was such a mess. I came to a few conclusions.
I have always thought, that if I did what I wanted to do all day, I would do absolutely nothing except for unhealthy things. I wouldn’t take care of the house, I wouldn’t follow up on tasks, I’d just sit around watching television and being a slob. None of that is actually true! What is true, is that I want to have a clean house, food on the table, to run, to read, to pray. I want to hold my son and read to him. I want to be outside and look at nature coming to life again. Sometimes, I just want to sit in the sunshine and lean against God’s chest and pour out my heart to Him and know that He loves me and is proud of me.
Another big thing is that I no longer agree with the “work before play” motto. As grown-ups, our work is really never done. Which begs the question, when do we play? I wasn’t playing or having any fun. We want not having fun to seem holy and godly since we have the model of God not resting until His work was done. I think we miss the point that God probably had a rocking good time while he was creating the world. So, Palmdale, CA, might have happened during a not good moment, but seriously, don’t you think He enjoyed making the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls? I look around me and I see joy in what God did. I’d rather have joy and peace in my day than be able to check things off my to do list. My husband deserves a peaceful home, my son should have a joyful mama, and I want to hang out with my own brain without telling it to “shut it” all the time.
(Big, deep breath and another chuckle at myself for being a ding dong so much of the time.)
The last two weeks have been very different for me. I’ve returned to my usual good crazy. I’m not worried about getting stuff done anymore. I wake up, read a few chapters in my bible instead of forcing myself to read the entire self-assigned portion, and I ask God to make my day what it needs to be. Then, I do what I want to do, believing that if my brain is quiet and God has a task for me, I’ll know what it is. I’ve been baking, cleaning, writing, reading, resting, dreaming up fun things to do around the house, I’ve returned to my Adventure Wall to find outings in my beautiful city, I sewed curtains without having a meltdown, and pretty much, I’ve chilled the crap out.
The funny thing? My house is cleaner than it was when I was stressed about it all the time, big projects are getting done faster than I thought possible, I’ve been sleeping better, my chronic pain has subsided to it’s usual murmur, and for no reason at all, I’ve danced Jake around until we both are laughing and getting a good case of the hiccups.
I was reading in the Psalms today and came across a verse I know I have read many times, but it jumped out at me today. “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.”-Psalm 37:23 and 24. As I walk the tightrope between good crazy and not-good crazy, I’m so thankful it is the Lord who holds my hand and keeps me balanced and upright. And, even when I screw it all up and fall, He’s got a firm grip on me.
And, He lets me think it’s good crazy to hug a dinosaur. Woohoo!