This picture means a lot to me. Not much to look at, is it? But I used to run alongside this creek, back in 2009 – the year I replaced drinking with jogging as my coping mechanism for stress (and lost 20kg in the process, yay!).
Well, actually, that wasn’t the only reason I gave up drinking. I realized that alcohol had a strong influence on my mood; there seemed little point in doing therapeutic work when I couldn’t hear a whisper amid the storm, so to speak.
Back to the picture. The creek wasn’t usually this full; it’s in flood, here. Actually, I think I took this picture in 2010, after various dramas ‘flooded’ my life. My coping mechanisms weren’t up to the task, and I became very unwell, spending quite some time in a psychiatric hospital.
You know what? I’m still recovering, almost four years later. Floods are like that: once a flood’s been through an area, the ground becomes saturated, which lowers its capacity to absorb water and makes a second flood more likely. Bushfires, on the other hand, deplete the fuel load of the land, making a repeat fire less likely. Sadly, the way our brains/minds react to traumas is more akin to flooding than burning.
I used to carry cards in my purse, cards I’d made myself with pictures on one side and things to remember on the other. This was on the back of the first card I ever made. It was my “Things To Try” list if the urge to self-harm or suicide became overpowering. Funny, until writing this post I never made the connection between the fact that the creek’s flooded in the picture, and the emotional state I was in when I made the card: overwhelmed, barely coping, at serious risk of not making it through … I’ve just dug that old card out, and I had even included the phone numbers of my emergency contacts. Me, the numbers girl! I certainly was prepared for a worst case scenario, prepared to be in a state of mind where I couldn’t remember numbers or operate my Contacts list properly.
The psychiatrist who was treating me at that time was amazing. I honestly believe I wouldn’t be here today, if it weren’t for him. If my mental illness was a flood which threatened to wash me away, he was the stone wall which held the flood in place and protected the me. He went above and beyond. It was impossible to doubt his commitment to my best interests, my recovery. He is a truly good man.
That creek – it will have been through quite a few flood / drought cycles in the four years since I last ran alongside it. (I’ve moved cities since then.) It will have bounced back, though. That’s what creeks do.
I’m glad I’ve still got the card – what do they say, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it? I guess I have come a long way, since then. I know myself a lot better. I cope better, even if I still have bad days or bad moments. I’m not working at the moment, but there have been times between then and now when I was able to work.
That creek will still be there. Perhaps another woman is running alongside it, right now. Perhaps things in her life aren’t going so well.
I hope she makes it safely home.