This morning I participated in the running "group" therapy session with a fellow runner. To compare my situation with hers is laughable. I am continually shocked with the stories she shares, yet am honored to know someone so at ease with herself and willing to listen to my troubles. For what its worth we are able to bounce ideas back and forth about running, child rearing and dealing with the varied aspects of mental illness.
We often discuss the fog, that sense of a heavy shroud falling over one's eyes, clouding our vision and obscuring the positive, happy things in our lives. The fog can roll in light and quick, or slow and heavy. In whatever manner the fog settles it sucks all the same.
My friend said her fog rolled in overnight. Exhaustion and overwrought emotion set her on the edge of tears. Raising a young family has a way of sucking all the energy out of you. The worst part of dealing with the fog is listening to the voices that, like the siren's song, seek to pull you onto the rocks. Listen too intently and proceed at your own risk. Just know these voices are not friendly.
Even though we know the voices are internal and imaginary, she wondered why it is that she forgets how to lift the fog on her own - it is possible if you can suppress the voices and actively seek the light. Not easy but possible.
It occurred to me that battling the fog is much like a bare-knuckled brawl. The fighters know to keep their hands up to guard against the flurry of jabs and hooks from the opponent. As the fight progresses to the later rounds the fighters don't simply forget to maintain their guard, one of the fighters may simply get too tired to keep hands raised. Suddenly fist meets face. Head snaps back. With enough force the body is off its heels and sent flying. If the fighter is dazed enough he may not get up off the mat.
That is how it how it is with mental illness. The voices inside my head are tireless. They are constantly on the offensive. I try to maintain my guard but sometimes I just get too damn tired to keep fighting. That is when the sledgehammer connects.
The caveat is, that unlike our hero in the above clip, internal struggle is impossible to completely defeat. There is no knock out punch.
* I make no claim to represent either player in the clip attached to this post. That may incite future to debate as to whether each combatant is the self or the voices. Feel free to comment in this regard.