I stare at the wide open road outside my dining room window with forlorn eyes. I can almost picture myself so vividly on that road, running, with my long pony tail swinging fast side to side. My lungs fill with cold morning air, sweats form on my forehead and back, and my mind is on the mend. I sit alone in my dining room where I get to have my brief quiet moment before dawn. Just remembering my past predawn runs is enough to make my heart leap with anticipation. I know when God wills, those fresh, sacred, and solitary mornings will return.
Always under a constant attack by so many factors of daily human existence, it is easy to lose my mental and emotional stability. It needs constant monitoring and restoring. Maintaining the balanced state of my mental health is a fatiguing task in and of itself. Once it’s out of balance, the spiral process happens so fast. It’s like one moment you are gently holding a fragile glass ornament and with one clumsy move, the glass drops and its shattered pieces spread all over the ground.
You can create a treatment program to help maintaining the achieved level of well-being but as it often goes, life is in constant motion. There is a constant movement powered by the tension between our body’s instinct to achieve equilibrium and the forces that are internal and external that create disturbances in the balancing process. For example, what happens when I can no longer practice my ashtanga yoga after my body had gone through the traumatic response to birthing a child? We all know the benefits of forest bathing for our physical, mental and emotional health. But woe to you if you find yourself transitioning from country lifestyle to urban lifestyle and the forest bathing has been your daily source of treatment. For me, uprooting from my country house surrounded by thick woods and vast green field as far as my eyes can see to this high rise townhouse in the developing town on the fast track to become one of DC’s newest accessible suburbia has had a major impact on my mental psyche. Especially so, because this move came out of blue, “catching me by surprise, like a trap (Luke 21:35)”.
So how do I prepare?
“Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life… Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man,” strongly warns Luke, ending with the remedies that will stand the test of time. The scripture in Luke 21 continues that “every day Jesus went to the Temple to teach, and each evening he returned to spend the night on the Mount of Olives. The crowds gathered at the Temple early each morning to hear him”. Boy, wouldn’t this be mighty enough to get me through each day, to gather at the Temple each morning to hear Jesus teach? It would be my ultimate therapy plan. Sign me up ASAP.
But you know what happened next. Jesus died. For those who became so dependent on his physical presence, it must have been a horror. A great sadness overcame their hearts and minds and they were filled with a grave sense of hopelessness. Still clinging to His bodily presence of Jesus, some women went to His tomb early in the morning where they witnessed the greatest event that ever occurred to human history: the resurrection of Jesus.
This quiet morning, I sat in my dining room. I did not turn on the light over my dining table because I let the blinds open and I no longer have a privacy. I scanned my body, from my head to toe, and back to my head. It is always there, in my head, and my heart where my problem lies. A great sadness and a grave sense of hopelessness had been growing and for the last week or so, it had been intensifying. By now, after my life time of battling with depression, you would think that you get immune to this invisible pain. The truth is, it never really gets easier. It actually gets worse because when you know so much about your depressive symptoms and its cyclical patterns, you know when it is about to strike you, again. And the fear that you are about to enter the dark chamber of torturing mental pain is worse than the actual pain.
So in my dark chamber alone in the darkness this morning, I just simply did the only thing I could manage. I just stared at the wide open road right outside my dining room window with forlorn eyes. And there, I so vividly saw it. The vision of me running, so full of life, so vibrant, so cheerful, and so… happy. I felt my heart leaping with anticipation. My heart knew it was a vision Jesus was giving me. And that was enough for me. My ultimate therapy plan.