Alicia: Untimely Storm

Timely, I have always been a timely person. It’s great when I arrive early and something comes up at the last minute, and I have time to help someone out. It’s good when you’re a kid too, and you get to school early every day. You always get the first pick of the best swing. There always seems to be that one swing on the playground that goes the fastest and the highest. When you get there late you always have to wait until someone gets off and try to grab it before all the other kids who are waiting because other kids like it too. Other people enjoy me being timely also. My dad taught me to start the car when I was seven or eight. He figured if I was going to be out there waiting, I might as well warm the car up too. I would go out in the winter, get it started and have the snow cleaned off before everyone else was ready. It seems as soon as you say the word go, I’m heading for the door.

It can be a challenge too. I once missed a great new year’s celebration because my friends were an hour late and no one had told me. I was fifteen minutes early and went home after they were forty-five minutes late. I wasn’t going to waste my time. It can be frustrating also when you have told someone that you have to be somewhere at a certain time and they show up late. They may not mind, but I still have to make it to my appointment; now my mind is so focused on what time it is, I can’t enjoy the visit.

When I was twelve, my dad passed away; that was the first time I remember time really affecting me. It seemed like all of the sudden time froze. I knew that it would start again, yet I wasn’t sure I wanted it to. I wanted it to stay paused so that I could make sure that I remembered every detail I could about my dad. I wanted to remember the way he looked, the way he smelled, the sound of his voice and everything he ever taught me. Time doesn’t stay frozen for long, but it seemed like it was going much slower than it ever had before. I was living life in slow motion for a long time. I couldn’t quite get back to a normal rhythm.

After I graduated from high school, I moved to Grand Rapids. It finally seemed like time was moving along at a normal pace again. I was in a new place, meeting new people and enjoying new things all around me. Life was great… but I kept wondering if I hadn’t left something behind. Like maybe a piece of me was missing.

After a few years though, time seemed to start going much faster. I was on the go all the time. I was working as much as I could every week and I had to be doing something almost every night of the week; I barely slept. If I was needed at work I was there, and if I wasn’t there then I was going to be out having a good time. Time was now on fast forward, and I was trying to catch a piece of everything going on around me. Everything was moving right along and I thought I was keeping up quite well. It really seemed like I had grabbed hold of life and was enjoying the ride. I didn’t realize that I was skipping over important details that I normally paid close attention to. I was the one who kept things organized. I was the one who made sure things were ready early and the important detail didn’t get forgotten. Not anymore; I didn’t have time to slow down. Worst of all, I was instantly angry when anyone tried to slow me down. Time kept speeding up and I kept spinning out of control. It didn’t last for long because before I knew it, BAM!! It seemed as if I had hit a brick wall. Things slowed down, way down. I tried to pick up the pieces from everything I had made a mess of. It wasn’t so easily done. It seemed the more I tried, the bigger the mess got. The bigger the mess got, the less I knew where to start. My job was a mess, my relationships were a mess. I didn’t know when or where things went wrong.

Time was going slow again and I didn’t have the energy for even slow motion. I was really sick and I didn’t know what to do for myself. It seemed nothing I did helped. I tried to give myself time to bounce back. The thing about mental illness is you can’t put a time on it. You can’t plan it into your schedule. You can’t make sure that everything else around you is ready. It’s not that time stops when you’re depressed, because life around you is still happening. It is more like having a clock that doesn’t tell time… It’s like an open ended time frame. No one knows the minute, the day, or even the month that you might start feeling better. You have to keep reminding yourself even though you can’t see it, time will come around again.

When I was a kid, I grew up by Lake Michigan. One of my favorite things to do with my dad was to watch the storms come across the lake. We would sit and watch them from miles out. Storms can be scary; the thunder is loud, the lightning is bright, and it can be so unpredictable. We don’t see the beauty of them till the storm has passed. Then we look back at pictures of lighting or cloud formations. We see plants that have grown from the rain. Sometimes we just see that the grass is a little greener than it was yesterday. Storms will always come into our lives, we can’t push them away, just like we can’t make lightning move in a different direction. Sometimes they are short storms, sometimes they are long. Sometimes storms we have just pop up and sometimes you can see them coming. The important thing is to remember to seek out safety when the storm arrives, and to always remind yourself that new life comes when the storm has passed. Time comes and goes just like a storm, always remember to learn something new and find the beauty in every unpredictable moment.