Over the River and Through the Woods of Mental Health

Annah Elizabeth8 Comments

Happy Thursday, Journeyer!
I have a post that needs to incubate a little longer, and I’m a little curious about a few things…
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
Every year since my children were born, I have purchased Christmas ornaments for each one of them and one for Warren and me.
The decorations are themed around some event that year, an embellished sand dollar for our beach vacation; a kangaroo for Beauty’s first year at college represented her university’s mascot, and a Santa on an alligator a reminder of Fave’s fun in Louisiana.
As each ball comes out of its space in the tote, I am reminded of the joyful times in my family’s life and in the process I am creating another happy event unto itself.
My family will vouch that decorating our tree is an event
When I finally have no choice but to remove the tree, dismantling it is another event that I like to do leisurely so that I can enjoy each special piece before it is packed away for the year.
This is an ornament I hand-painted back in 1995.

The woman who facilitated the painting project commented several times about the precise nature of my brush strokes, about how I seemed to be giving a painstaking attention to detail, and seemed a little astonished at the many color hues I created by mixing different paints.
I’m wondering if you’d take a second to ask yourself what this bauble evokes for you, and then if you’d be ever so kind to leave a comment in the box below, I’d be ever so appreciative.
That’s part one.
Now for part two…
There were one or two years that I didn’t put out this special piece and until recent years I felt twinges of sadness and shame every time I saw it.
You see, this ornament is one of the craft projects offered to us while I was in the Behavioral Science Unit of our local hospital, a ward often referred to as The BSU or The Psych Ward.
Art Therapy.
Severe depression had left me feeling emotionally bankrupt and in that dark place where I believed I wanted nothing more than to die, in a conscious state where I prayed numerous nights to that merciful God to end my suffering by claiming my life.
I spent six weeks of my life relegated to one floor of the hospital, where exit doors were locked tight, sharp objects were put away, and I not only had to request permission to smoke, I had to ask for a cigarette and the flame with which to light it.
An interlude: I am so, SO, SO glad I kicked that habit to the curb eight years ago. I celebrate that feat every time I pass someone holding a cancer stick to her lips, or when I walk through a plume of smoke.
As my insurance neared the maximum six-week stay allowance, the staff began issuing home visit passes.
Trial runs designed to test my ability to reenter society and a normal life.
What comes to mind in this moment is Glennon Melton’s mantra: “We can do hard things.”
Depression is hard.
We can do Depression.
This Christmas ornament is proof that we can traverse Depression’s hard, ice-cold surface and find our way through its thick, dark forest…
Now that you know the story behind the ornament, I’d be even more delighted if you’d add to your previous comment by sharing what thoughts or emotions now come to mind when you think about this piece of my mental health.
This year as I ran my fingers over the ceramic surface, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride, peace, and hope…for myself and for the world of people who are hurting.
Together, Journeyer, we are neighbors in grief and allies in healing…

Together we can heal a world of hurt.
Until next time,
Yours in hope, healing, and happiness,
One last thing, Journeyer. If you found a measure of hope, healing, and happiness here, I’d love it if you’d sign up to join our neighborhood! When you do, I’ll send you a digital poster that includes ten of my top power mantras, quotes from some of our favorite inspirational guides and two that lead The Five Facets work… Additionally, it is my ultimate goal to send out one monthly newsletter, though you’ll have to wait a bit for that! 🙂
Joining our neighborhood broadens our reach, Journeyer! Together we can heal a world of hurt! Joining us couldn’t be any easier! Just click here and a few keystrokes later your home is there, right next door to our growing group of gorgeously spirited friends!


8 Comments on “Over the River and Through the Woods of Mental Health”

  1. As a Christmas ornament, it lacks the traditional color, although it’s a nice winter scene. But as art therapy, wow. It’s winter and cold and the horse is alone and there’s no sunshine or birds. I can see you as the horse and that year that was the perfect ornament for you.

    1. Angela, I just love you! Thanks for reading and replying! I hadn’t given thought to the side where the horse was alone…I’ll have to look at that next year when I pull it out. The people and the sled were so tiny, I wonder if I didn’t paint them in on that side… As you might imagine, Art Therapy came with a time limit…lol

  2. I don’t know you but I want to hold you close. I was first treated for depression in 1995, postpartum. I probably should have been hospitalized as I remember very little of my younger son’s first year. But I beat it and I’ve beat it back again and again. Depression is hard. But it can also be a beautiful gift because it helps me remember I am human, I am vulnerable, and it’s ok to ask for help. Thanks for sharing your story. So brave. Don’t be ashamed of that ornament. Ever.

    1. Hi, Neighbor Laura!
      Sounds like you know me better than you think. 😉 Yes, depression does remind us that of all those things! There’s a quote about being broken wide open…if we choose to see it, there is great beauty within the experience. I hope you’ll consider joining me on other social media sites you belong to, so we may connect again. 🙂

      I’m a big hugger, so big hugs coming your way!

      Yours in hope, healing, and happiness,

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