Let's rewind the tape to a couple of weeks ago. It was a day like most others, only this one somehow turned out different. It started like most other days-wake up, eat breakfast with my daughter, watch cartoons while getting ready for work/school. Actually, scratch that last one. We usually watch Animal Cops: Houston in the morning. Anyways, I dropped her off at school and headed in to work. Work started out like most other days at work, except that day I couldn't get anything done. I was constantly getting interrupted, my boss kept tossing high-priority-have-to-be-done-right-now assignments at me throughout the day. I was drowning and people were lining up to throw buckets of water on me.
We're all had days like that. I had even had other days like that and had survived them with my sanity intact, but this time it was different. Cartoonist Scott Adams, author of the Dilbert cartoon, describes it by saying that it all starts when one project becomes overdue. You then start having to give status reports about why you missed that deadline and one by one all of your other projects fall behind until you're reach the point where every task you have becomes such a high priority that your brain can't figure out which one to work on and it snaps.
I think something similar happened to me. What started out as a typical busier-than-usual day snowballed and never stopped rolling. It wrecked me. I started to panic and worry about everything. I felt like there was a 500 pound gorilla sitting on my chest. I had severe anxiety that just wouldn't go away. Somebody was strangling my happiness and I was powerless to stop it. No matter what I was doing, all I could think about was everything else that was not getting done and the weight of all the unsolved problems was crushing me.
The scary part is that it wouldn't go away. I'm a fairly easy-going, easily-amused person, so when stuff like this happens it's not too difficult for me to hit the reset button and start things over. I don't tend to get overwhelmed by things because I've been fairly good at understanding what I can and can't control and how to work from there. But for some reason I was stuck. In quicksand. It was hard to get out of bed in the mornings. It was hard to get dressed and go to work. It was hard to be a father and husband. I stopped smiling. I started being short and irritated whenever anyone asked me anything. I started to act like kind of a jerk, and it scared me. I spent a couple of nights hiding in my bedroom trying to figure out what was going on. I'm still not sure I know.
Here's what I do know. I know that my Dad suffered from depression. I know that various members of my family have struggled with addictions of all shapes and sizes. What I don't know is if I was depressed. At this point it's the only thing that makes sense but how does one go about diagnosing something like that? Do I need someone else to tell me, or am I allowed to self-diagnose. And even if there is an official reason for feeling sad and overwhelmed for an extended period of time, what do you do about it? Do I take Prozac or some other drug? Do I take up yoga?
So why am I sharing all of this? As I mentioned before this blog is about sharing my journey with you. It's about discovering how to stop drawing boxes around work, family, church, and all the other roles we take on and starting seeing God's hand in every aspect of our life. It's about living the gospel on days that end in "Y". And sometimes it's not easy. I'm sharing this because somebody else out there is going through the same thing. Somebody reading this wakes up in the morning wondering if it's even worth getting out of bed. Someone is ready to throw in the towel and give up on a marriage, family, a job, or any other responsibility they feel is too much for them to handle.
To that someone, the only thing I can tell you is keep going. You can't always see the end from the middle. You won't always see the light at the end of the tunnel because sometimes the tunnel is really long, or has a lot of twists and turns. It's only when you take an eternal perspective that you understand the tunnel does end and there is a bright, shining light at the end. But don't get so caught up waiting to see the light at the end that you miss the light that is in the tunnel. In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord taught Joseph Smith about that light (Doctrine and Covenants 50:24):
That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect dayYou don't have to wait till you're out of the tunnel to find light. God is light and if we seek him earnestly we obtain His light which can overcome all darkness. I love the description of light growing brighter and brighter until the perfect day. I haven't had that perfect day yet, and there are days when the light seems dimmer than usual, but I know it is always there to guide our path and to brighten our souls.
I'm still learning how to allow that light in to my life, but I understand now that it's not the light that was withdrawn from me, it was I who blocked out the light. It was there the whole time, I just couldn't see it. I wouldn't see it.
Hopefully some day soon I'll let enough light in to see things perfectly.