I have a confession to make: I have another blog.
I started it in the fall of 2011. At the time I was extremely ill. I'd lost over twenty percent of my body weight and no one knew what was wrong with me. I spent most of my time on the Internet, trying to self diagnose, and running from one doctor to the next in search of answers. My obsession with my health kept me in a state of constant panic, and with no end in sight I plunged into a deep depression.
I didn't have a therapist at the time, so I went to see one recommended by a friend. She dropped some wisdom on me that helped save my life. She said I needed to separate Kelley the woman from Kelley the patient. And so www.kelleythewoman.tumblr.com was born.
I resolved to post a photograph every day for as long as I needed to. And I succeeded. It helped me to remember that my life was about much more than my illness, and it gave my body the space it needed to heal. (I had gastroparesis, which is now, thankfully, under control.)
Why am I telling you this? Because I recently had hip surgery, and the recovery has been much slower and much more painful than anticipated. Once again, I found myself growing obsessed with the state of my health, and falling into depression. Kelley the patient was choking the life out of Kelley the woman. I've decided to resurrect my old blog, in the hopes that I will regain some perspective.
It occurs to me that the advice that therapist gave me stretches well beyond those recovering from illness or injury. All of us--especially those of us prone to anxiety or depression--run the risk of narrowing our lives and losing perspective. Problems demand attention. Uncomfortable situations are, well, uncomfortable. People want everything to be pleasant and easy, and we burn a lot of focus and energy trying to make them that way. And there isn't anything wrong with that--we're human. But when focus turns to tunnel vision, and all the other layers of life go dark, we need to step back and reassess. We need to reclaim our personhood.
It's important to remember that we don't do this alone. I always forget that, and spend weeks trying to fix everything myself before I reach out and ask for help. It's scary to take that step. It's scary to admit that everything isn't okay. But once I do, I instantly start to feel better--because in that action I am widening the circle, taking those first steps out of the tunnel.
Come with me, if you would like. Tell me about your tunnels, and your guiding lights.