I haven’t slept well all week. I’m usually in bed by 9 or so and asleep by 10; up between 4:30 and 5:30 and feeling rested (thank you new meds), but not this week. I’ve been tossing and turning so much that I’m having dreams about tossing and turning. My pain is up a bit after walking a 5K this past weekend but physical pain isn’t keeping me up. I don’t know how to describe what it is but I know what it isn’t.
I got a text on Sunday, while getting ice cream to celebrate making it a 5K walk, and knew instantly how my week would look. “We lost a student.” was the text from a close friend. While I’m glad that I have been pushing the issue of mental illness as openly and boldly as I can, I also sometimes wish I wasn’t one of the people that came to mind first when tragedies strike. I didn’t know when it would happen but I knew that at some point, the need to sob uncontrollably would hit me and that once I let the first tear roll it was downhill from there. So, I’ve stayed busy: meetings and making phone calls that should have been 10 minutes stretch to 45 and running errands that could be done all at once but breaking them up so I’d have a reason to head out again. I’ve been “busy” but feel totally unproductive; stuff that would normally take me 10 minutes is taking hours. But I thought when Thursday got here and I hadn’t lost it yet that I might have passed the “I’m going to break” stage without breaking.
No such luck. It hit at 1:30 this afternoon. It wasn’t the text on Sunday evening that let me know the “student” was the nephew of a friend. It wasn’t missing a meeting Monday night because all the pieces to make getting there possible failed to fall into place. It wasn’t a Tuesday morning meeting with a leader in our community that I was really nervous about. It wasn’t a challenging couple of nights of trying to get the boys off the golf course and focused on homework. It wasn’t “we’re still doing laundry and it’s Wednesday” (mama pet peeve). It wasn’t the shy girl in a club I lead at school who I start to think is going to engage but then pulls back into her shell. It wasn’t a PTO meeting that included a presentation our community needs to see to continue enjoying a successful school district but only netted 10 people (4 of 5 board members, principal, a teacher, a committee chair and 3 incoming board members) + the presenter. It wasn’t the 90 minutes this morning with a member of my tribe that offered the perfect time to fall apart. So I thought I had it beat – wasn’t going to happen this time. Nope, this is no longer a raw, gaping hole for me.
And then it hit. This afternoon, I came across news that someone I knew only through two days of her attending a leadership training I am a part of had passed away earlier this week. We’ve had no contact since the training other than a single email so why the strike to the gut? After two fairly intense days and a lot of sharing our stories with each other and a group of 20 people, while we were wrapping, this amazing lady asked me if I had ever considered being a part of leading a group of kids or women who would be impacted by my story. I sort of laughed and said “No, but thank you.” (Sidenote, she was a leader in a large church and I have done student ministry life in my church – been there, done that and not going back.) The moment I read the notice of her death, her words to me came flooding back.
I don’t know why the words of someone I knew less than 48 hours opened the floodgates. I don’t know why all the other stuff didn’t. I don’t know why we’re still talking about a college scandal (agree, it’s awful but the main characters are a couple of used to be TV stars) but not the 23 year old former Olympian who quit life or the daughter of a former boxing great gave up on life 42, both this past weekend. I don’t know why the 8th grader at our school decided last October that he just could not do 1 more second of one more minute. I don’t know why the kids of some of my dearest friends are going to have to say goodbye to a classmate this weekend, who last week was “smiling” about it being Friday and the weekend arriving. I have had these thoughts; I have acted on these thoughts and no, I still don’t know why I tried, why I can get past the thoughts now, why I still struggle to say “I’m struggling with some suicidal thoughts” even though I’d love help getting past them. I don’t know why; I wish I did.
I do know this: last Friday I agreed to be the speaker at a Mental Health Night at our church. While parents are hearing a message from an intake doctor at Children’s Hospital, I will be speaking, for the first time, to a group of 5th-12th grade students telling my story and leading a discussion. Some of them J & C have known for years, some My Fave and I have taught in Sunday school, some of them will be sitting in our church’s chapel this weekend to say a last goodbye to their friend, just down the hall from where I will speak to some of them in 5 weeks. Just days prior to my “under 48 hours” friend being called Home, I said “yes” to what I’d said “no” to just a handful of months ago.
I also know “my friend” heard the words, “Well done, My good and faithful servant. Come and enjoy the fruits of your labor.” and, when my last day on this earth comes, having survived the storms of life, I hope I too will hear “Well done.” followed by “Now warrior, you’ll find rest.” ♥