Entry to a Dark Place

Many times, I feel like two separate people: the familiar failure and the capable stranger.

I see myself and my life thus far and find myself lacking.  Personally, I never finished college, I didn’t go into an ‘accepted’ career, I never settled down fully into the role of mother.  I have a published novella that feels like an unhappy accident.  Daily I wrestle with anxiety and depression; there is a general and long lasting sense of hopelessness.  What chance have I, my own familiar failure, of ever being good enough?  Of accomplishing something real and true?

On a weekly basis, I attend quite a bit of therapy.  Currently I’m in an IOP program again.  This is my third bout.  My capable stranger is the one who attends.  That woman learns the tools, knows that not only are there good things on the horizon, but also that she can and will deal with the bad.  She exists in my mind, but when I look in the mirror I can find no trace of her.

I know these two entities coexist within me.  I understand that they don’t have to be mutually exclusive, that, in fact, it’s impossible for them to be.  Whatever you are today, whoever you’ve been in the past, there is always still the hope of your future and what light will enfold you there.

Safe journeys, dear travellers.


You are not alone. 

Every day is a journey into who we are.  Who am I today?  What will I learn?  What can I do?  Self-efficacy on a path that feels so separate from those around us.  It feels as though I must be the only one struggling to take care of myself today.  As though everyone else can simply step through the day without having to try.  Yet I attend group therapy and every member there speaks of just how difficult it is to even do daily GRAPES.

Every moment matters because you exist within it.

GRAPES is a self-care scheduling tool.  Small steps for each day to help put priority on you, because you cannot give to others what you don’t have.

Gentle with self.  Something to be kind to yourself today.  This can be anything from drinking water, to an affirmation about yourself.

Relaxation.  An activity or action that you generally find relaxing.  I will occasionally pamper myself for this, or go out to watch koi swim around, read, write, simply enjoy a froofy coffee.

Accomplishment.  A task that can be completed today.  This doesn’t have to be something huge.  You don’t have to organize your entire closet or clean the house from top to bottom.  Perhaps it’s calling a doctor or making an appointment, or unloading the dishwasher.

Pleasure. An activity or action that you find pleasure in or have found pleasure in in the past.  Many times when anxious, depressed, or stressed out, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to actually enjoy things, even if they were once things that brought you pleasure. Doing these things when we cannot feel the joy nevertheless gives us the option to someday feel it again.

Exercise.  Physical activity, all experts agree, is a big part of taking care of self on a day to day basis.  This doesn’t have to be going to the gym for an hour, it can be parking further out when you go to the grocery store, or taking some time to do stretches.

Social.  Interaction with others can suck, especially when you don’t feel like trying, but there are studies somewhere that show just how important it is.  For some reason, reaching out to a friend, or going out and having a chat with someone really can make you feel better.  It might not be a whole lot, but even a little relief is still relief.

You are important.

Each day has hope, and you are worthy of that hope.  Step proudly on your path for you live.