I had a mild identity crisis today while driving the five hours between my psychiatrist’s office and my grandparent’s house. My doctor, whom I love and have been seeing for almost fifteen years, made the completely sound observation that being an artist requires a lot of resilience, because you have to be able to deal with a lot of rejection. I knew this all too well, because the fear of rejection has pretty much paralyzed me from getting any of my creative fiction out there, whether online or elsewhere, and lately my hateful need for artistic perfection has prevented me from even writing down my ideas in prose form. Much to my surprise, however, my doctor took the tough love route (i assume) and said that if I don’t have the resilience, maybe I should consider a different field. Now, I hadn’t refilled my Lamotrigine (mood stabilizers for bipolar) or taken my Adderall yet, so my emotional coping skills were not exactly top notch, but her observations sent me on a spiral that had me deeply questioning my worth.
I had always considered myself strong – not physically, but in an ‘overcoming all psychological odds’ kind of way – but I had never realized how much worth I placed on inner strength, both for my self and others. I am fascinated by strong women and tend to obsess over them (Ginny Weasley, Buffy Summers, Lucy Pevensie, most of Doctor Who’s companions), but I questioned for maybe the first time if this fascination was because I found accord with this women, or because I was devoid of their strength and their stories were just my armchair warrior pipe dreams. My road trips are usually spent entirely inside those pipe dreams, but this time my brain couldn’t come up with one fresh fanfic idea because I was almost nauseated at the thought that I was utterly and thoroughly weak. For me, the highest proof of one’s value is the quality of their life story, and even though my life has been severely lacking in the epic department, I had always consoled myself with the notion that I was the kind of person that could live an epic story, given the right circumstances. But now I was confronted with the possibility that not even my character was epic-worthy, and it was all I could do to not have a complete emotional break down (there’s a sign of strength … not).
I searched for something that might alleviate this crisis – delusions of future romance or success, or even someone I could call to tell me, ‘Don’t worry, Sarah, you’re strong’ and perhaps give me reasons to think so. But all those options looked to external validation, which would only confirm that I’m laughably weak. So I told myself that someone with true resilience wouldn’t just take my doctor’s word for it – I would prove it wrong and show that I am strong, but I honestly didn’t know how to do that, and I couldn’t tear my brain away from these thoughts because I still wasn’t fully medicated.
So after an emotionally precarious drive, I refilled my Lamotrigine and arrived at my grandparents’ at 4pm. I was spent, but forced myself to take the meds before lying down (I usually take them at night, and the break in routine for an Asperger’s girl is more difficult than you’d think). For months I haven’t prayed openly to God about anything to do with my struggles, because about 90-95% of the time he seems to completely ignore my requests for peace and leaves me feeling even more alone than before. But my turmoil was intense enough that I found myself pleading inwardly for something to hang on to. I was dimly aware that resilience is formed by simply ‘hanging in there’, and I remembered that my respite care for a couple brain-injured individuals has demonstrated a form of inner strength and patience, but I couldn’t turn off my ‘worst-case scenario’ brain that kept saying I was worthless because I was weak.
Then I remembered a scripture that one of my Bible-study friends told me over three years ago: ‘I will make you as hard as flint.’ On that particular occasion, we had spent the study praying for each other and sharing words and visions that we felt the Holy Spirit had in mind for each member, and while the majority of the people were given encouragements for future blessings, peace, and light, etc., I was given Ezekiel 3, the moral of which said that I will experience bitterness and turmoil. (Great.) However, I was able to recall that the bitterness and turmoil was meant to make me ‘as hard as flint’ so I could be strong enough to face whatever calling God had for me, which to me, meant that the emotional hell that has been my brain the past three years could be going towards creating that resilience that I actually prayed for when I was still at school.
When I lied down I claimed the ‘hard as flint’ scripture and asked for it to be true. Then I started to cry. I said to God, ‘There has been so much bitterness and turmoil inside, whether others see it or not, but if that is making me strong, then I can deal with it. But I need it to be worth something. Please.’ I’m not sure if he heard, or did anything about what I asked, but I had something positive to fixate on during the next period of bitterness and turmoil: the words ‘hard as flint.’ Without them I wouldn’t have been able to post this so soon after it happened. I think I am strong, and becoming stronger is even better, and for a generally negative thinker, at least that’s something.