I am going back to counseling for a while (which was not the epiphany, rather a decision I made a week or so ago) but I don't have an appointment until next week, and it will undoubtedly be useless to me because the first meeting with a new therapist consists mainly of taking a history. So until I get some actual help, I am being my own therapist, which means I talk to myself almost constantly. But I am only sort of talking to myself because the whole while, I am imaging someone else, a real person with whom I am casually acquainted. I explain to him how I became the way I am (mainly how I developed my faults, justifying their existence, and expounding my past and current efforts to rid myself of them). In the process I have some profound insights. I am a good therapist.
This morning's breakthrough has been in the works for a few weeks. I will leave out some of the more personal details because who knows what random people are reading my blog. (I'm not really sure why you would read the blog of someone you don't know, but it happens a lot, and I delete all the comments from such sketchy strangers.)
I realized that what has really been frustrating me lately is that none of the coping strategies I have used in the past are helping me right now. I keep thinking, "I am doing everything right, and I still feel like crap!"
On Friday, for reasons I still do not understand, I decided to watch a program on BYUTV called "Is Being Good Good Enough?" (I knew the answer would be "no," and I am a firm believer that that is a load of crap, though I think my objection to it is really a matter of semantics and not a disagreement with the intended meaning. Also, I hate BYUTV.) A rather handsome young man (late 20s I'd guess) was addressing a group of teenagers/young adults (from the sound of it). I don't know to whom or on what occasion he was actually talking, but he was a poised and engaging speaker. One of his points was that, as we overcome challenges, our trials become progressively harder. Therefore, we must become progressively better. What worked before will not necessarily work now because, though the trial may be similar, it is not the same. His example: the Nephites and Lamanites at war. At one point the Nephites and Lamanites went to war against each other, and the Nephites wore thick coats of skin and armor and carried shields, while the Lamanites were naked. The Nephites, having the clear advantage, won. A few years later, they went to battle again. This time the Lamanites wore thick coats of skin and armor and carried shields, but the Nephites built fortresses and again defeated their enemies.
Over the past few years, I have developed the attitude that these disorders (anxiety and bipolar) are trials that God specifically chose for me because they will maximize my growth in this life. He has freed me from other trials. I have yet to lose someone close to me, I was not diagnosed with cancer at the age of 20, and I will likely never have to worry about my financial situation. A lot of trials are temporary, but mine has the unique quality of evolving with me as I grow. That means that as I master strategies for coping, my challenges will change slightly, requiring me to learn new ways of handling them. And isn't the point of life to continually learn and improve until someday we are as God, knowing all things, capable of all things, and having eternal joy? (The answer is yes.) That is why all my previous coping strategies are not enough this time.
That is the background, now the epiphany: the way I am going to get out of my current funk is by sharing all the talents I am afraid of. There are at least two things I need to do, and I have already started, though not exactly by choice. First, I am a good teacher, but I am terrified of teaching. Luckily, I was called as a Sunday School teacher, which forces me to get over my anxiety about it. Teaching is temporarily painful (I was nauseated for the better part of my first lesson) but it helps me feel good about myself in the long run. Second, I think I need to sing. This is the hard one. I found out the other day that my ward doesn't really have a choir, which means the only venue I can think of is (sigh) singing a solo in Sacrament Meeting (bigger sigh). Bleh. That means I have to figure out who organizes the musical numbers, choose a song, and find someone to accompany me. Booo. I have to keep reminding myself that singing will only be temporarily miserable. My life is only temporarily miserable. Soon it will be better. And then it will be worse. And then I will have more epiphanies.