With only 11 days until the Out of the Darkness Overnight, it’s seeming less and less feasible for me to participate. I haven’t been training, I’m nowhere near the $700 I’m required to raise, and I haven’t made any travel plans or hotel reservations. Mom keeps saying, “Maybe this isn’t the year for you to do this.” It hurts like hell to hear it, but at least half the reason why it hurts is because at least part of me thinks she’s right.
I was finally able to express how her feedback is affecting me: “When you say things like that, I feel depressed. I feel like I suck.”
“I don’t think you suck. I just think you have a lot going on right now, and maybe trying to do this on top of it isn’t the best idea.”
She has a point. A lot of things have been going on to get in the way of my preparations for the Overnight:
- my response to the 15-year anniversary of my father’s death
- moving back in with Mom
- moving back in with Mom
- the extreme self-deprecation and anxiety that forced me to drop the last 2 pre-thesis classes I need to complete my master’s degree because they increased my self-harm risk
- lack of social support
- midterm and end-of-the-semester stress
- anxiety over Mom’s surgery
- Mom’s surgery
- visiting Mom after her surgery
- taking care of Dog and rats
- turning to the computer (rather than walking or other forms of exercise) for escapism
- depression symptoms
- lack of motivation
- self-harm ideation and thought imagery
- social anxiety; not wanting to be seen
Yes, I could have made different choices. But I think blaming myself for not preparing for the Overnight would be like blaming someone for losing a poker match in which the best hand ze was dealt was a pair of deuces. Sometimes, your best option is to fold.
When I expressed all this to Fox, he suggested a brilliant compromise: instead of attempting the overnight walk in Washington, D.C., I can do my own, shorter, walk locally. I can time it for when Banji and other people I love and trust can make it. Mom can come – even if she can’t walk the full route, she might be able to walk part of it. Just her physical presence as a supporter would mean the world to me!
I can even still ask people to chip in what they can to donate to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). We might even raise some awareness; I can wear the shirt I received for raising $100 for the Overnight and maybe my supporters can wear matching shirts in a similar color (ooh, getting together to decorate them might be fun!) … that kind of thing usually gets people to wonder what’s going on; even explaining our shenanigans to just one person might make a difference.
The AFSP even has tools for creating your own campaign that I can use! They offer a variety of ideas; endurance events (e.g. walks) are only one option.
I’m thinking of making a campaign I could link to from this blog, actually. One idea I have is to invite readers to commission posts on topics of their choice related to my experiences with mental illness, mental health care, and possibly other topics – all with the caveat that I will only share information I feel comfortable and safe sharing. What do you think?
Another project I’m planning is an herb and vegetable garden. Fox is on board with it; I love the idea of having someone to garden with. We’ve done some research and decided to start small, just a handful of plants in a few pots, preferably raised off the ground so we don’t have to bend too much. It’s a way for us to get outside in the fresh air and sun, do something that resembles physical activity, connect with nature, and possibly even grow our own fresh (preferably organic) produce! – that is, if the squirrels don’t eat it all …
I like Fox’s idea. Maybe you could do a walk with NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness), so you wouldn’t have to do all the planning yourself, but their walks are shorter (5K I think?) and all over the country. You could also support the Overnight in other ways, for instance donating to walkers.
I think any opportunity to help NAMI would be a brilliant idea. They do so much for the mentally ill community and offer even more – all for practically nothing. There are many courses to choose from, such as Yoga or Creative Writing; you can also join in their morning walks, and they also offer a garden for those who enjoy gardening. I would love to see them helped.