Families flock to them every summer to enjoy the thrill of the rides, overlapping sensational sounds and colors and the aroma of food. It is the consummate sensory summer thrill. The merry-go-round is the pulse of the amusement park, displaying brightly colored bobbing horses racing round and round to the loud organ music and blinking lights. Young children are braced on saddles by smiling parents while the older children jump from horse to horse, hoping to be on the outside for the chance to grab the brass ring. I remember the days of trying for that brass ring, the highest prize, to win a free ride or cheap teddy bear. Sweet memories are made on the merry-go-round.
As I settle into middle age womanhood, my past thoughts of a merry-go-round are not exciting. The carousel was a reminder of my life, jumping from horse to horse, spinning around in an endless circle with loud odious music, and never getting that brass ring or appreciating it when I did. This is the emotional merry-go-round of depression and anxiety that I have dealt with for a major portion of my life. I never understood why I was this crazy person, spinning and going up and down, until about 6 years ago, when the ride spun out of control.
I vaguely remember that morning…
Or the hours preceding my scream for help and mental breakdown. I spent the night crying, I mean real hysterical, body shaking crying. I still don’t know why I didn’t just end it all, take my life, and end the pain. I called for professional emergency help instead and was rescued. My daughter drove me to that “facility.” The drive was short, but the words in my head were never ending, loud and clear, repeating over and over – Funny Farm – Nuthouse – Loony Bin – Insane Asylum. There was also another voice, whispering and softly repeating “you are alive, listen to me.”
I have had depression and anxiety all my life, varying in episodes and durations, along with erratic behavior and pain. You learn to hide it, keep busy, focus on your children, blame it on other people, accept your irrational decisions and behaviors, deal with thoughts of worthlessness and tears. You bury it deep inside.
Six years ago was the worst and best day of my life. An inner spirit came through just enough that day, pulled all of her energy together and saved me. It was not going to be easy she told me, and again whispered to me “I will be there for you, we can do this together.”
I was admitted to a day program and the time was filled with assessments and group sessions with a team of professionals. The short bus picked me up from home in the morning, and after a full day, drove me back home, to sleep, until I was picked up the next morning. The days were blurred and fast moving with various medical and mental evaluations, selecting medications for treatment and attending group sessions. Many of the people in my group were also broken toys, searching for peace, some newly broken and some needing repairs. There was no commonality in our education, heritage, financial status or defined illness, but we all were in a state of mental despair that bound us together.
We shared our stories, cried together and were taught how to heal. We were given basic tools to evaluate what was essential, books to read in understanding our thoughts and reactions, how to recognize those triggers that bring us down and to look very deep inside to heal. Now this inner child and adult spirit found what it needed.
The past six years have been varied with spiritual reflection…
Journals, psychological evaluations, cognitive therapy, medication, tears, and a journey to connect and understand my spirit. My brain and I try to work together now, without medication, to grasp what we can and cannot do. My inner spirit and brain have an agreement now and are becoming partners. Yes my brain still misfires, and it is a daily routine to control my depression and anxiety.
I like myself now, and am slowly trying to love myself. It is hard work to understand how my brain operates, how it can deceive me. Most days I win, but then occasionally I am forced to yield. I still struggle with the demons and have brief times of eventful depressive and anxiety filled feelings. The term ‘just get over it’ is not an option. Some days I accept it and let the tears flow for release. Depression and anxiety still feel like a merry-go-round which is spinning out of control. When it happens, you can’t get off, you just go for the ride.
Finding my guiding spirit, has changed my life. I have inner peace. I quit my corporate job, sold most of my possessions, made a dramatic move to another country, and eliminated negative people and situations that were my triggers. Relationships and finances have suffered, but I focus on positive aspects of these changes and the necessity of giving up things to enhance the beauty of my soul and my woman spirit.
I live humbly in a beach city, work with children, focus on happiness rather than sadness. I have been rejected and supported through this process. I accept my flaws and enjoy my accomplishments. When I need to be alone, (which I often do), I fill that time to pray, meditate, cleanse my surroundings, read, listen to music, enjoy nature and let that spirit that saved me take control.
This summer I want to go on a merry-go-round and ride up and down on the carousel horses where my inner spirit and I will reach for that brass ring together.
About the Author
Diane Dienstman is a 58 years young woman, living in Tel Aviv, Israel. Originally from the United States, she has 2 successful adult children and 2 amazing grandchildren, including a few grand fur babies. She is currently following her passion of working with young children, living a simple life at the beach and following the woman spirit that saved her. Follow her on her blog.