Hope breaking through

One misty, moisty morning,
when cloudy was the weather;
I chanced to meet an old man,
dressed all in leather.
He began to compliment
and I began to grin,
"How do you do?
How do you do?
Hod do you do?" again.
~One Misty Morning, children's nursery rhyme~

After a week of sun, we had rain and dreary skies yesterday. It was also my first day taking care of my home and children all by myself - the first time since late April. The weather matched my mood.

I'm a researcher at heart. Constantly on the look-out for trends, patterns, similarities, differences. I find myself applying a grid to this stage of poor mental health, looking for triggers and safe places, keys to shut things off and turn them on. Variables I can adjust.

The thing about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is that there are often multiple layers to it. For me it was the trauma of leaving our church along with the resurgence of memories of my childhood abuse. A month ago, my worst problems were flashbacks constantly triggered by weird things like flashlights and the smell of urine. I reacted to those flashbacks with anxiety that went through the roof, seemingly entirely out of control. During those times, it was the anxious worry that I would feel like this forever that drove me to attempt suicide. Sometimes the physical pain was my distraction, the flashbacks blurring in the background as I wounded myself.

The anxiety has ebbed away. The only time it is triggered now is in large groups (social anxiety). The blessing in this is I know beforehand when I'm probably going to face anxiety and can use the "as needed" medication to take me through that crisis. I also try to employ several tools from my "toolbox" of coping, like playing some piano before leaving for church, or painting something before we go out to eat.

And so, the sun leaks through as the anxiety dissipates. But bleeding through the background now is depression. My brain seems to be rebuilding in stages, from the worst traumas to the lesser, from the anxiety and panic to the slower, settled and quiet sadness that pervades the day.

Amy asked me, yesterday, what was making me sad. I have no answer to give, other than the grief over losing so many close friends. I think I am grieving all the way back to age 7, and slowly re-walking the path of life to grieve all the losses of 32 years.

I feel, in a very real sense, like being between storms. Last night ended better than the morning started. Today started well and I don't know what to expect - if sadness will strike, or if I can succumb to the joy all around me: lightening bugs, frogs singing, moonrise, misty hills, drops of water on my chive blossoms, children belly-laughing while they play on the XBox Kinect, warm coffee, maybe even a shower.

Slowly, slowly, He heals again.

I'm on the other side of the cloud
And life feels better somehow
The wind was harsh
The lightening worse
The rain, it left me blinded.

On the other side of the cloud,
where the blue sky is much bluer now,
I'm not afraid to be awake,
In fact, I want to live again.

I didn't have enough hands
to hold the pieces of my brokenness
Didn't have enough tears
to dry out my heart
Oh, the dark, dark cloud
didn't seem like it would every go away.

But now
I'm on the other side of the storm
Where the sunshine is wonderful warm
I've much to live and more to give
And laughter comes so easy

On the other side of bad weather
Where I'd love to write you all letters
Declaring Hope is always near
When darkness comes, do not fear
but remember...

There's the other side of the cloud.