The words, ‘hold on’ can mean so many things. It is one of the ways that we try and trip up foreigners with our crazy language, by giving multiple definitions to one simple phrase. Of course, ‘hold on’ could mean to wrap your arms around something important and keep it for yourself. It could mean to persist at something, to keep going. But for me, ‘hold on’ can always only mean one thing, ‘stop, and give me a moment.”
This world moves fast, we all know it. We see it on calendars, we see it in our children’s faces, we even see it in the lines that appear on our own face. People want to move. They want to move at a speed that oftentimes is faster than their own minds or bodies can keep up leading to the stress that makes us stay up late at night, staring at the ceiling, promising ourselves that something will be better. We want to go to that next thing. We want to conquer that next mountain. We want to find a way to get outside ourselves and the daily routines of our life. We want to go fast because the alternative is to stop and see what it is that we don’t have.
But as a girl who struggles, each and every day, ‘hold on’ means wait. Wait for me to catch up. Wait for me to settle. Wait for me to be able to put myself into a place that I can function too. Wait for me to understand what my brain wants so that I may give it. Wait for me to feel my body so that I can find a way to bring it into focus and give it the energy and desire to catch up to this fast paced world. Don’t make me leave my world, without checking to make sure the world inside of me, is ready. This like thousands of things in the mental health world is not easily understood; my children often can’t understand why I can’t just run to the store. My husband can’t figure out why I can’t just rise up without fear and do what I want to do. My friends have often moved past me so quickly, and not only left me behind, but can’t understand why I can’t just join them. If I loved those in my life, shouldn’t I be able to be standing right beside them. Why can I not just run? Why can I not just let go? Why do I need to hold on, for that brief moment, even if it means the world has once again passed me by?
But I have learned that holding on, waiting a moment, is the only way that I can function. While there is an exception to every rule, and for me it’s an emergency involving my children, for most of my days and all my plans, there is a period of waiting that must occur in order for me to even be able to function.
If I don’t wait the things that can happen vary. Panic attacks. Cloudy minds that refuse to think and understand that I am safe. Reckless driving because I can’t focus on the road when I am trying to get myself into focus. The missing of important moments in my kids’ lives because I can’t see beyond the fog of fear and hopelessness. The joy of a surprise. The beating of excitement. Without ‘hold on’, I can’t see the very thing standing in front of me.
Let’s break down, ‘hold on’ for someone like me. I have a brain that runs at a speed that no car on earth could keep up with. It fluctuates from being up to being down. It goes sideways and often on tangents that make me question the very questions my brain throws at me at lightening speeds; and this often happens in seconds, moments, breaths. It catalogues every pain, every slight twinge, every moment of every emotion. It gets stuck on the safe and tries to remain where it knows, whether that is the pitch darkness of truth or the light of so much energy that the sun seems to retreat in fear. My brain convinces myself that it has cancers that don’t exist, that the words it is yelling are my truth. My brain works only to create a world that no one else can see, touch or feel. My brain creates for itself a path that can not be seen by the ordinary. Waking up, going to sleep, eating lunch, can be a new world for me each and every time because my brain isn’t capable of breaking down the truth in most situations to see the reality that the rest of the world is flying past. This confusion, this chaos, is my life. I have accepted it even if I don’t like it. My brain works in a mode that isn’t comparable to anything else; and that is as dangerous as it is beautiful.
But to ‘hold on’, even for a moment, allows me to try and get at least one of my toes underneath me. I don’t expect to ever land on my feet, or even to feel those feet underneath me; that’s not going to happen. I don’t expect the doors to ever open and give me a sense of freedom. I don’t expect to know how to function without taking the time to plan how to function. I don’t expect to know how to handle a situation without taking the time to envision every possible way that situation could go. I don’t expect to be able to avoid the triggers, the attacks, the wall blocking all access to the world most people live in, without my first taking the time to anticipate every possible occurrence. I have to over plan, to know every angle, to understand all, before I can successfully drive to McDonald’s for a cheeseburger. I have to know the layout of the building I am entering. I have to know where the exits are. I have to know where the safe spots are. I have to know how long I am expected to function in the real world long before I step out of any threshold.
Life can be many things, whether your mentally ill or simply an ordinary human moving to the beat of your own heart. We truly don’t need to go into life and it’s myriad emotional and physical events. All of us live a life that is fluid and oftentimes completely out of our hands. There is no way to figure it all out. There is no way to anticipate life. The trouble with life is there is no guide book that can help you to believe the truth when it is obviously right in front of you. The trouble with life is that it is unpredictable and while for many this is not only the purpose of it, but the best part of it. We can schedule appointments, but we can’t schedule the next moment. None of us can.
Most people can deal with the ups and downs of life either by ignoring them or simply not putting any importance on the journey. Most people can ignore the bad day knowing that tomorrow will be better. Most people can even find some good in some of the bad.
I wish sometimes that I was the kind of person that could go to a new and beautiful place. I wish I could get in a car or an airplane and fly to some destination that I have only seen on the television. I wish that I could take my children to places that would enrich their lives. I wish that I could go with my husband as he explores and finds his own joy in this crazy world; but it simply isn’t that easy.
It is frustrating to go to a place and realize I don’t know anything about it; not where the nearest exit is, not how long I will be there, not even how I will feel there. It’s why I need the ‘hold on’. It’s why I have to have days, weeks, moments to give myself time to research, look at every angle, and come to terms with a place, a time, that I am not in control of. Because deep down, ‘hold on’ is not about waiting or avoiding, it’s about finding something to control. We find strength in places that we find along this journey and the pain within our past. And I have found the strength in learning to ‘hold on’. To give myself time to find that control that gives me a fighting chance to fly at the same speed everyone else seems to be cruising by at. “Hold on’ gives me a moment to look around, put things in the perspective I need, and to find my exit strategy.
So the next time someone seems to not be able to leave, or walk past their own threshold, ask yourself did you give them any time to ‘hold on’.