Jehovah, the Lord, is my strength, and he maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and will make me to walk upon mine high places.
Habbakuk, 3 v 19 (ESV)
Balance is not a strong point. Along with proprioception, it is one of many things that God is looking after for me, for the time being. I was reminded of this quite sharply yesterday, as, on my knees, at a 45 degree angle, 80′ in mid-air, I was asked to turn my body through 360 degrees, and lower myself on to a small, invisible ledge, 5′ below me. Hmm. I clung to the tower, and invited the instructors to manipulate my right leg into position. It had locked tense, and was going nowhere of its own accord, with or without my willpower.
Pushed inelegantly through the turret, it grappled for the ledge below. And clinging to the rope with my left hand, my knuckles white with the effort, and ignoring my right side’s freeze-framed abdication of the situation, I lowered myself to the ground.
The winding, narrow staircase that led me to the top of the tower, and ensuing descent, mirrors something of my experience this week.
I attended my first therapy-that-isn’t-therapy session and stayed to the end. Realized how low, sad and desperate I am. Like the younger son in the story of the Prodigal, all I could see was sin and bad. And that is all I truly am, beyond the act I put on to work, to function. Heart of darkness. I plunge into crisis as email messages remind me how rubbish I am. I live in renewed fear of my inbox. I would be better dead.
I have experienced elation at media interest in my next research project. And joy as the threads of that research all come together. I completed the abseil, raising money for charity in the meantime, and people were there, encouraging me. It felt good.
And extreme. I am either full of joy, or overwhelmed with bad, to the point I want to end it. End it all. Not during these things, good or bad, but half an hour following them; the end of therapy, putting the ‘phone down to the BBC news editor, the abseil, I was uncontrollably shaking. Unable to put one foot in front of the other without absolute concentration. My body betrays the act I put on.
Hinds’ feet on high places? Why high places? I want the middle. I want to be able to hold fast and securely to a middle ground, not cling my by finger tips to the edge. Balance between the highs and the lows; to be able to process them normally.
I am not going to talk about the contents of the therapy group meetings here. They belong to the group, not to me. But I will talk about how the meetings leave me. While I was silent this week, I am full to overflowing with all the things I could say in the group, if I were brave enough; all that is wrong and bad with me. I am brimming with strong, strong emotion. And I am scared. Scared that while these things are close to the surface, and to move forward in the therapy, I have to demonstrate commitment and willingness to share, that I will snap more easily. Break in two more readily. That triggering me will take much less effort. That I am much more vulnerable now than I was. More easily pleased; more easily rejected. I want to warn people that it’s not really me. But it is me. And I can’t do that. The stigma would see me rejected completely.
When I left the Taize gathering last week, the posters were free for all, and I took this one:
The anunciation. I remember this poem, I wrote, well over a year ago, when the extent of my mental illness was becoming clear, diagnosable. Now I am offered therapy. And it could make me iller, before I get any better. And I am scared. But let it be unto me.