This Post Does Not Contain Fun Pictures

I don’t know if anyone reading this has been concerned about my safety or anything, since I’m still technically on my road trip and I haven’t updated in a week, but just in case, I am here, I am safe, and I am physically fine.

This isn’t a usual trip update, but more of a life/state-of-the-blog update.

Right now, I’m in Milwaukee, a city I have never been before this trip and, frankly, I am not impressed. Well, OK, I kind of hate it–not the company, just the environment–partly because I miss the West and want to go back (so many mountains and pine trees…).

The last few weeks have been really, really tough. I’m in a spiritual slump that has been ongoing and fueled by a lot of things (and not helped by the fact that I just can’t summon the energy to open my Bible and that sometimes prayers feel like “posting letters to a nonexistent address” as Jack C.S. Lewis described it). Some of the hopes I had for this trip have fizzled out. Some are small, like this or that museum was closed, or the weather wasn’t good for hiking in Seattle. Other losses are bigger, like the hope that I would get some kind of clarity about my life. I still have no idea what hell I’m doing, where I want to move, and so on. There’s been a lot more loneliness than I expected, especially at this point. Shortly before I got to Wisconsin, my depression began to flare up. Right now it’s like playing Whack-a-Mole with my feelings, where I have one trigger smacked down and something else pops up to tell me something else horrible about myself. All this has drained into my work. I’ve already been struggling with a change to my workload and schedule, and depression/anxiety/sleepiness kind of made things worse to the point that I think I made more mistakes in a week than in the last three years. Mentally, emotionally, and physically, I am just exhausted, and every little thing feels like a Herculean effort.

I was expecting a grand, epic, joyous, heart-bursting, spiritually refreshing adventure, and although it definitely has had its moments, now I just feel like I’m desperately fighting to keep my head above water. I keep thinking, “I want to go home,” but I don’t know what “home” is right now. I can’t tell you how many people say how “brave” I am for taking this trip, and how “blessed” I am to have the opportunity, but I’d be lying if I said I felt at all brave or blessed right now.

All that being said, I want to apologize for the slow, scanty blog posts lately, but it may be another week before I post anything more. It may be two weeks. It may be two months. Or I may be suddenly inspired and post something tomorrow. I will definitely be back, I just don’t know when. Right now I need to relieve some of the pressure I’ve put on myself, and one way is to release myself from a sense of obligation to this blog.

I will hopefully see you sooner rather than later, though.

10 thoughts on “This Post Does Not Contain Fun Pictures

  1. Dear Em, i am so glad to hear from you. I could tell this trip has been hard and not what you had hoped for. I’ve had my own struggles with depression–the exhaustion, the difficulty to do even even small things and praying to a wall. I will continue to pray for you.
    I can’t think of any concrete/practical way to help. I wish I could. The best I can do is to offer my friendship and a virtual hug. Shannon

  2. Hello Em, I found your blog this evening. I first discovered that I was an INTJ when I was 17 and went to the college career center and was administered the Myers-Briggs. Now I am 56 and have never to my knowledge met another INTJ woman. We are rare. The INTJ thing always made me understand that my personality made me feel different from others but especially different from other women. I want you to know that reading your blog has been an adventure for me. I live a different life from you but you and I share a similar voice and perspective which must be the INTJ thing. Wanted you to know that you touched someone else’s life today in a meaningful way. We INTJ’s are deep people. We wonder ourselves into all sorts of troubling situations and emotions. Sounds like you are in that space. You’ll probably wonder (and I don’t mean wander) out soon. I’ll write again after I have more time to read your posts. Thanks again for being present on the Internet and take good care of yourself today.

    • I started off as an INTJ and after “wondering” myself into a deadly dark place and having to acknowledge my mind’s limitations, I now sometimes test as INTJ and sometimes as INFJ. The mind has limits, and knowing more about how it works can sometimes help us call its bluff.

      “Five senses; an incurably abstract intellect; a haphazardly selective memory; a set of preconceptions and assumptions so numerous that I can never examine more than a minority of them- never become even conscious of them all. How much of total reality can such an apparatus let through?”
      -C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

  3. Em, Leslie sounds like she understands the INTJs better than me. I’m an INFJ and it shows. Part of it I think is being a mother with children your age. “Wonder” safely.
    Shannon

  4. The “like” is my appreciation for your honesty in this post. So many people are afraid to say these things, not realizing how many of their fellow creatures know what this is like. The feelings and experiences you express could as easily be applied to times in my life.
    These stretches are wretched in so many ways. All I can say in encouragement is that they always pass. Sometimes it takes a while. Though it feels like trudging through molasses, or tar, keep moving. The tar pit isn’t boundless and you are not walking through it alone however alone you might feel.
    Spiritually, it feels like facing a locked door, or a dry well. The danger is in thinking what we see and feel in a state like this is reality. It isn’t, it just feels like it is while we are in it. Once we are out, we will see the open door and flowing water again. May God help you through this sooner than later.
    As for purpose, like the rest of the comment, all I have to go on is my personal experience. I was often told that the only step we can really see is the next one. Then I learned that, sometimes, we don’t even have that. I had to make a blind choice about my future, a step in utter darkness. I can only assume that God guided my step, because I ended up where I needed to be, but at the time, it was an “I have to do something, so why not this” moment. You may find out what your next step is, or you may have to step blindly. You may run into trouble, and maybe that is a good thing, too. Whatever else, whether you can sense Him or not, God is watching your feet and guiding you somewhere. You probably won’t know where until you find yourself there. It’s a terrifying process, like letting go of a rope when you can’t see how far you are from the ground.

    I don’t know if this will help you at all, but it has helped me and others, so I will share it. You may see “reasons” for your depression, the things that keep you up at night, but depression is a disease. It’s a chemical imbalance that alters our perception of reality. I’m not advocating medication (it works for some, but I’ve never taken any), but I find that understanding helps. Depression distorts reality and knowing that can help us keep going until we get out from under the shadow.
    I won’t spout gibberish about self-esteem. When I am depressed, that doesn’t help me. Also, do not listen to anyone who tells you to just “pull yourself out of it.” They are under the false impression that depression is a “mood” and can be easily changed. All that does is create guilt and shame. It is like telling someone who has the flu to “get over it,” which only makes the patient feel bad about being sick.
    Keep moving, and do not blame yourself for being in the desert. It’s an attack, not a mistake. The dimness, the torturous restlessness, is something other than you, is something that has attacked and infected you. The illness will pass, but in the meantime, remind yourself that it is not a part of you.
    Counseling isn’t a bad idea, especially if things get worse. Sometimes talking through these things, and getting an outside (and uninfected) perspective is helpful, and a trained stranger is sometimes better equipped to help than those who know us so well that they think they already know where the problems lie.

    I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. You will beat this.

  5. Pingback: …And Neither Does This One | Em Speaks

  6. I’m sorry you are not enjoying Milwaukee. I use to live there and it is one of my favorite cities! Wisconsin doesn’t compare to some of the western states but there are some lovely areas and many things to do .

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