I have always been the type of person to answer, “Oh, I’m fine,” whenever anyone asked me about my overall well-being. I have a confession to make, though. I am not always fine. Anxiety, depression, and insomnia are part of my family heritage, and I am continually fighting to overcome these behaviors. I meditate and keep positive mantras circulating through my mind. I surround myself with beautiful, colorful artwork and post inspiring images on my Facebook page. I listen to music to turn off my constantly chattering mind. I enjoy long drives and indulge in road trips just to clear my head. I don’t watch violent movies and television shows. I delete hateful Facebook posts and avoid reading depressing news reports and bullying “tweets.” I avoid anything that inspires negative thinking.
But I have to admit that over the last few weeks, due to medical concerns and professional problems, I had allowed myself to slip into a depth of despair. Honestly, for a while, it felt good to just let go and not be strong for a while. The only problem was that once I let myself fall, I had a hard time getting back up again. The more comfortable I became with my negative attitude, the further down into my misery I sank. I stayed completely alone in my anguish for a few weeks until I finally grew bored and realized I needed to move on with my life. But I didn’t have the energy. Even simple pleasures like meditating, day trips, coffee with friends, listening to music, reading, writing, or just vegging out to old episodes of Survivor on Hulu didn’t bring me any kind of enjoyment.
Finally, last Monday, I felt something within me shift and I suddenly realized that I needed to do something to renew my spirit. I told myself that I didn’t need to make any big moves. I just needed to do one small thing today that would put me back on my life path again. So that afternoon, I reached out to my brother and sister-in-law and offered to take them out to dinner. It would be my treat wherever they wanted to go. To be honest, there was a part of me that hoped they would tell me no. I wanted them to say that they had other plans, or that they weren’t interested in seeing me. But instead, they seemed happy and eager to get together.
So, even though I just wanted to stay in my room for the rest of the day, I got myself cleaned up and went out to dinner at a local barbeque restaurant with my family. Luckily, I had opened up to my sister-in-law that afternoon, and told her about my concerns and worries. That conversation had lightened my soul and given me the strength to face the rest of the evening. Now, as I sat in a booth, enjoying a good meal, listening to music, and telling stupid jokes with my brother, I felt renewed. I realized my biggest problem was that I had stayed to myself for far too long.
As we left the restaurant, I continued to feel joyful as we climbed into my brother’s car. As we headed down 635 North, I glanced out the passenger window and stared in shock. A large, beautiful rainbow was arching high up in the sky. It hadn’t rained that day; there had been no storms and yet a colorful rainbow shined through a few of the low hanging clouds. To me, it was a promise of a new start and better, brighter days ahead. And then a thought suddenly occurred to me. What if that rainbow had been there for the last several days, but I had been so caught up in my own head, that I just couldn’t see it> I shook my head then and wondered what other amazing glories I had missed because I had let myself wallow in depression.
I can’t say that I will never be depressed or anxious again, but now I know, that no matter what, I always need to look for, and appreciate, the sudden rainbows, the simple pleasures, that always surround me.