When we’re trying to implement changes in our lives whether they be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, we sometimes have a hard time knowing if what we’re doing is actually making a difference. Or at least, I do. The old adage of one step forward and two steps back has been a big part of my journey this year. But yesterday, a status came up on my Facebook memories that caused me to take stock of the journey I’ve taken over the past year. What was it? Well, a year ago yesterday, I had boarded my first international flight in twenty-six years to go to Honduras. Here is what I looked like on our first day of work which was a year ago today. I had such a blast playing with those children. We had other good experiences too like helping to build latrines, holding Vacation Bible Schools, and getting to know the people at the churches my church in the US sponsors. I came home from that trip changed, but I didn’t know how far-reaching the changes would turn out to be.
I knew I was in bad physical shape as the summer drifted to a close in August. I was going to have opportunities I hadn’t had in a while though since I was done homeschooling. My son was going to be taking classes at our local community college. I wanted to have a new focus on my life which would include writing, and, I decided, physical fitness. I wasn’t concerned about the number of my weight. I just wanted to feel better. So, I started. I would use the elliptical in my complex three days a week and walk the other two days. At first, I could only do 15-20 minutes before I had to quit because of being out-of-breath. But, I persisted. September passed. So did October and November. Then, I noticed I was feeling better physically. My clothes were looser too. It was a good feeling.
We had gotten to the months though where my depression usually kicked me in the teeth. December and January. I was going through the stages of having an empty nest and everything that went with it. I felt as grey as the clouds in this picture. I’m smiling in the picture, but there were many times that I cried. I felt like my efforts weren’t getting me anywhere and asked myself how anyone else could possibly want me around when I wasn’t even sure I liked myself. But, I persisted. I wrote every day even if it was just three pages in my journal. I worked out on the elliptical three days a week and walked the other days. My whole outlook swung from feeling really good to really sad. That’s what depression does.
The months flowed forward, and spring came to my part of the world. I noticed I could walk wherever I wanted in our complex, and I wouldn’t get tired. I was able to buy clothes in a smaller size, and my face looked thinner. I did my first 5K in March. I was really proud of that one. I also went to my first writers’ conference and met some neat people. I felt like I was making progress though I hadn’t sold any of my writing yet.
There are some anniversaries in the spring though that bring sadness to my household. It’s hard to remain positive when other people are sad which meant I continued to flip-flop. There would be days I would feel great, and there would be other days where I wondered how I could possibly be good company for anyone else since I felt so rotten about myself. That’s what having mental health issues does for you. But, I persisted. I kept working out. I kept writing. And I kept talking to someone when I needed to.
The beginning of May came, and my oldest graduated from college. The bad holidays came and went, and we settled into summer. I started hearing rumors about this year’s Honduras team, and I was sad and jealous. I knew there wouldn’t be an opportunity to go this year because of some financial constraints from the spring. I was also still trying to figure out where I fit in as I negotiated this new life of mine.
But then, yesterday rolled around, and I saw the status. I looked at my picture from last year, and one that was taken last week. I have come a long way. My friend told me I should plan to go next year, and I’ve set that as a goal for myself. God has a place for me in this life, and though I might not know all of it yet, I know He’ll be with me through it all!
God bless you!