Boards can be used to build shelters to protect you from storms. They can be used in flooring to give you a firm foundation. They can provide a useful service, as in holding books or displaying meaningful momentos.
And boards can build bridges between two places. Sometimes, boards can bridge a conversation.
So here’s the board I choose to start a conversation.
For as long as I can remember, I have battled the demons of depression and anxiety. On most days, I function quite well. I have an innate knack for holding my busy life together. I juggle more balls in the air than what seems humanly possible.
Until one of my arms is severed. And then, one by one, the balls hit the floor. And, when I’m standing there looking at them all scattered across the floor, I don’t see how I will ever get them all in the air again. But eventually, I try one ball and then another, bouncing up and down, somehow rhythmically going from air to hand to air. In time, the lost limb is replaced, and I again continue to function.
Until life kicks me in the balls.
In eight months’ time, I was in a significant car crash; I moved to a different city from my home of 22 years; started a new demanding job (that I love, by the way); watched my mother-in-law die unexpectedly; cared for my mom during cancer and leukemia; witnessed my adult sons’ battles with anxiety, depression and life; and then held my mom as she died. Eight months.
When Rodney and I started this project, we agreed not to censor each other or ourselves. The threat of that, though, is the possibility that we let our crazy show. When we are delving into our creative minds and exposing deep truths and thoughts, we take the chance that the crazy is even more disturbing.
The problem with depression and anxiety is the intensity felt in the moment may not be as big a deal as what we project at the time. A seemingly small argument or unfriendly words can feel dire when one is already in a compromised state.
My fear when starting this project—one in which I must write every day based on a random word—is that I will allow people too deep into my mind and they’ll see the crazy. I believe that has happened already, and we’re just a week into the month.
With that crazy sighting, I worry people will reject me or perceive incorrectly that I’m in danger, in an abusive situation or that I will hurt myself.
Being a chronic apologizer, I’m fighting the instinct to beat myself up, but, instead, I want to bridge the gap and start a conversation with the board I’ve been given.
Maybe we can even build something beautiful together.