blooming chamomile behind grid fence in darkness
Photo by Jusdevoyage Lyly on

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This week has been a little rough. Run-down could describe my mental and physical stature between catching a cold and allergies. I suppose that’s typical for the time of year: Fall leaves remind us to embrace change and let things go. Cooler temperatures urge us to embrace those we love with a little more warmth than before. Dark clouds threaten what remains of autumn light shining through. 

It might sound cliche, but in these dimmer seasons, I begin to wrestle with myself, the girl I want to be versus the one I am. It’s as if I’m closing one chapter in my life I love and approaching another one I fear. I’m eager to move on but scared of the unknown. 

Keeping Secrets Under Wraps

Closed curtains, fastened shutters, and tightly bolted doors attempt to keep out the cold, but something else chills me to the bone. Unlike cooler temperatures, the more we keep struggles inside, the greater they fester and grow. We don’t grow warm and comfortable but weary and isolated. 

As a teacher and writer, I’m good at giving others advice that I fail to take myself. Being vulnerable and transparent about my closed doors with God and others marks the top of the list. I can’t explain it, but some struggles are easier to write about than others. I wonder if this is because of a grave misconception in the Church: once you’re healed or delivered it’s for forever.

The truth is that most struggles in life are more like wars than a battle. As my husband notes, they are ongoing brawls rather than single encounters that never return. However, that doesn’t make them any easier to fight or live with. 

When the War Returns

Tuesday evening, I sat in that place, wrestling with something I keep hidden and something almost everyone knows about. Writing about mental health isn’t always easy, but when anxiety and depression have surrounded you since childhood, the words often flow. 

When it comes to self-harm, however, I almost always run and hide. Something about eating disorders and addictions makes me shudder. I know that other people struggle with them, but shame convinces me that no one else does. The thought of having that diagnosis along with my other half a dozen makes me nauseous.