Gentle reader: As we enter the second half of 2022, how are you feeling? Truly and honestly? If you find yourself in dark hours, remember that the brilliant light within yourself can never be dimmed.
These times are sent to try me. These times are sent to try us.
I am starting to wonder if 2022 might have a problem with me. The year has just passed its halfway mark. So far, 2022 has been a year like no other for me.* And not in a good way.
Challenge after challenge. I have not found this year at all easy. I would not want to bore you with all of the specifics. But the results have taken a severe toll on my mental and physical health. I have been diagnosed with mixed anxiety and depressive disorder.** I have found myself on an unexpected mental health journey. The path of this mental health journey does not go in just one direction. There are stallings and setbacks.
At times, I think I am making progress. But then something happens to intensify my stress and anxiety further. Twice over the past week or two I have had to go back to the doctor as my symptoms have intensified, rather than lessened. .
Four months into my mental health journey, I am still trying to find a level. This is proving more difficult than I could have imagined. One day, I will be able to return to the light. In the meantime…
Events, dear boy…. events can always find another level to go to.
Fire, flood, wood
Over the latter half of June, this year seemed to decide that it was time to throw some new challenges into the mix. Things seemed to get mildly biblical.
A massive midsummer electrical storm arrived in the dead of night on Saturday 18 June 2022. Thor seemed to be having something of a tantrum, directly overhead. The apocalyptic goings-on in the heavens had a direct effect on us down here on earth.
Fire. Lightning struck, very close by. A bolt of lightning somehow toasted the telephone line into our house, killing our wi-fi stone dead (and did the same for most of our street). Sunday morning brought the chill realisation of just how constant is my connection to and reliance on the magic of the infinite online universe.
Flood. When the heavens opened in that electrical storm, the relentless rain drove a hole through the corner of our recently repaired garage roof, sending water streaming down the walls.
Wood. Throughout all this, and through each preceding challenge, my wife and I have acted as one. We have dealt methodically with each of new problem, and moved on to the next one. We have always done this. We will always do this.
Our fifth wedding anniversary fell a few days after that apocalyptic storm. According to whoever it is that decides these things, five years of matrimony is considered the wooden anniversary. I marked the occasion by buying my wife a couple of mismatched but oddly harmonious carved wooden dachshunds (pretty much her favourite brand of canine).
Good times, bad times
We may have finally tied the knot five years ago, but we have been together since the year 2000. So much has changed since then. So many good times and so many bad times. Throughout all this, with each challenge and each celebration day, my wife and I have acted as one.
Last weekend, on Saturday 25 June 2022, I contemplated the passage of time, all that has changed and all that has remained the same since we met.
That day, my wife and I watched Robert Plant and Alison Krauss at Glastonbury 2022 on the BBC iPlayer. Robert Plant is her favourite singer. We have seen him in concert numerous times. At Glastonbury, Plant and Krauss sang an incredible version of Led Zeppelin’s The Battle of Evermore.*** Plant’s voice has matured in an extraordinary way, and blends perfectly with the astonishing, god-tier vocals of Ms Krauss. To hear them together breathing such new and extraordinary life into a song more than half a century old was little short of miraculous. Hearing this revitalised version of this song was a lovely moment of relief during these testing times.
The week of our marriage in June 2017, I wrote a post entitled Dreams, weddings, waves, about how important it is to recognise and celebrate when one gets to the good bits in life, when dreams do come true. Reading that post again this past week, the following words struck a different chord than when I first wrote them:
“Life’s pendulum will never cease to swing between the good and bad. Time flies during the good times. Those perfect moments can feel like a dream once they’ve passed.”
It is just as important to be recognise when one feels mired in the bad bits of life. This is no time for delusion. It is necessary to acknowledge the darkness around you before you can begin the journey back to the light. For me, life’s pendulum seems to have tended toward the bad for much of the first half of 2022. These dark, difficult days may yet come to feel like a dream, if and when they have passed. In the meantime, I must get through them. I must remain alert to the world around me, throughout all this. As I wrote five years back:
“It’s important to recognise that joy and beauty are around you at all times, no matter the hand life is dealing you at this moment.”
Joy, beauty and light can be found at any moment, no matter how dark things might seem. When I first opened Twitter last Saturday morning, the first words I saw were exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. These words are from a quite beautiful tweet by Amitabh Thakur:
“It is only in our darkest hours that we may discover the true strength of the brilliant light within ourselves that can never, ever, be dimmed.”
I share Thakur’s words here in the hope that someone else might read them at the precise moment when they can be of greatest benefit.
How are you feeling in this moment?
These times are sent to try me. These times are sent to try us
Gentle reader: How are you feeling in this moment? Truly and honestly? If things are not so good, please be open about this to others, even if the prospect seems difficult at first. You will be surprised by the support and help that you will receive.
May the sun shine upon you today.
May you remember that the brilliant light within yourself can never, ever be dimmed.
May today be nothing but kind to you and yours.
- Mental health (NHS) Information and support for your mental health from the NHS.
- Information and support (Mind) Resources from Mind, the UK mental health charity.
- NAMI Homefront (NAMI) Online resources from US charity NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).
- SANE Australia Visit the site of this “national mental health charity making a real difference in the lives of people affected by complex mental health issues”.
* There is of course a strong case to be made that no year is like any other. But 2022? This year is trying its best to take the biscuit…
*** I could only find this somewhat unofficial-seeming upload on YouTube of the Glastonbury performance by Plant and Krauss.
In the probable event of the above video being taken down, here is another June 2022 performance of The Battle of Evermore by Plant and Krauss.