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This Too Shall Pass

The lush, tall grass that seemed to go on forever had finally ended. Henry had to use his hands to peel his way through the uncut crop, but now it got shorter as he reached the forest, where the grass was replaced by a thick line of tall evergreen trees.

Beginning to venture into the woods, Henry felt overstimulated and anxious. He had only heard about this ‘path.’ Now, with nothing but a flashlight in his hand, he needed to be able to find his own way alone.  His breathing felt shallow; was venturing out alone at nighttime an impulsive mistake?  The branches were woven together so tightly he had to break them with his bare hands just to get through.  This so-called ‘path’ was more of an indent in the ground, thought Henry. His friends had said few people had come this way besides the ones who knew, this became more evident now.

Henry climbed over a fallen tree and finally arrived in the middle of Saint Halley Park. He saw the stars and the view his friends had been talking about. He moved his flashlight around until he saw the old wooden dock leading out onto the lake. Its planks creaked so loudly underneath his feet that he thought it would cave in. He had to take a deep breath to calm his nerves and then carefully made his way to the edge and sat down. He set his flashlight down behind him so he could remove his now-dirty white high-top Converse sneakers and dangle his feet into the cold water.

The stars above were dazzling, but the quiet chirps of crickets seemed to get louder by the second. Henry reminded himself that there were, in fact, crickets around him. This was not his imagination.  Sometimes in these moments of panic he can regroup, but this was not one of those times. These symptoms were also, in fact, real, tears began running down his cheek as he stared into the sky. He cried so much for so long that he had no tears left. He counted the stars to refocus himself, and the cricket chirps started to soften. It was not just panic that made him cry, Henry thought. He sat up and tried to focus on his surroundings: the lake and the silhouette of the top of the trees blending into the night sky that was spotted with stars. He lifted his hand and traced the outline with his finger. After one more deep breath he felt ready to reflect on why he had chosen to come out tonight to the lake. His friends who had advised him to come on this journey, had thought with everything going on with him that “clearing his head” would help.

Since he sought out help and got a new diagnosis, his life was not the same. Things had started to become harder for him, whether it was maintaining relationships, or simply picking up the phone. He could not find the interest to do it. He had begun to feel jealous of others who could do things like planning and interacting with others with natural ease. He thought this journey would give him a conversation starter with his friends and make him feel more connected with them.

He had felt confused, and lost, since his conversation with his doctor. This label he had been given, his newfound disability, made him feel so alone. All his quirks had been just traits like his whole personality was now simply another page in a medical book. Growing up he knew he seemed a bit quirky to others, and he tended to overreact, but never has anyone told him it was “abnormal”.

He remembered something his therapist would say to him when he had these moments: “reset and reframe your thinking”. However, he was simply tired of it even though he knew deep down everything was going to be okay. Still, he could not help but wonder why this is so easy for others and not him.

Henry lifted his feet out of the water and laid down flat on the dock. The boards creaked loudly below him as he shifted his weight.  He glanced up at the sky and said quietly, “I am what I know”.

To Henry, change was uncomfortable and difficult, even if it was a change for the better. He also understood that to live the same, and not change, could end in a miserable life. One of the most beautiful things about life, he reflected was how someone can change, how one can overcome adversity. He needed to make some changes, but the process of doing so was daunting.

“I am what I know,” Henry said again, then continued. “And what I know is a life of illness, riddled with anxiety.”

He tried to push his thinking further. “I am what I know,” he repeated. “And I understand it is not my fault. I do not create the life I live in, but I can control how I react and can change. Although it has been all I know it does not mean it is permanent.”

Henry began to reflect on his surroundings. “The moon asks for nothing in return but provides comfort and connection to all. Every night she shines so brightly. It can guide you if you look. I dream of a life like the moon, changing frequently, allowing others to see her beauty but not allowing others to disrupt the cycle of change that is necessary to grow.”

He felt so connected to himself at that moment. So alive. Reborn.  “I want to be like the moon,” Henry said while looking up once more. “This too, shall pass. This is how I must live my life. These symptoms do not control me.”

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