Describe a time when you were brave
I don’t do brave well. It isn’t that I am a coward. I think it is just that I don’t set out to save the world, or even myself often and therefore, I don’t always consider my actions bravery.
There was a time though when I felt like my life was a sinking ship and I flailed in the ocean of life. I struggled between having the will to live and resolving myself to death. My ship was named Depression and as captain, I ignored all signs of the ensuing storm that was about to capsize me. Since I’d boarded this ship in my 20s, I figured I was on it for the long-haul, never to see dry land again. I became complicit, rolled with the sea, ebbed and flowed with the storms. This was my life and I accepted it.
In the mid-2000s, I ignored all signs of a tsunami building off my starboard bow. I’d weathered storms in my teens and my college years, surely this one wouldn’t topple me. I’d just lower the sails and brace for impact, just as I had so many times before. I didn’t realize that I would nearly die from stubbornness and yes, ignorance. This was no ordinary storm and my ship wasn’t strong enough. In order to save myself, I would have to do the brave thing and abandon ship.
Leaving the metaphor aside, I had allowed depression to consume me. I gave into the psychosis of voices which told me that I was worthless, unloved, and a burden to society. When the pain became too much, I would cut myself to release the pain because I thought it dwelt in my blood. If I became too numb to the pain, I would burn myself with a lighter to feel something, anything. And when I couldn’t bear the duality of pain and numbness anymore, I would attempt suicide. This went on from 2005 until 2013. I had two choices left – live or die. To retrieve the metaphor once more, I found a safe harbor and dropped anchor.
I owe my brave act to two things – uterine cancer and a therapist who taught me Mindfulness. Cancer gave me the will to live and Mindfulness gave me the tools to succeed. I am still not sure if what I did was a true act of bravery. Aren’t captains supposed to go down with their ships? And that ship does resurface now and again, beckons to me and seeks to set sail, but I think I am stronger now, more willful to live, more determined not to drift back out to sea filled with uncertainties. If Mindfulness begins to fail me and I hear even a hint of those voices, I now seek the medication route. I may not remain medicated, as I often don’t, but at least I know it is there in case I need a safe harbor.