On the days when my brain decides to be obnoxious, I create escape routes. I always have fifteen different ways to get out of something, which is a ridiculous and elaborate coping strategy.
Sometimes, instead of studying, I’ll plot my transfer to another school because they don’t have the same classes. Once, in the middle of studying for New Testament, I planned out my course schedule at a Jewish seminary for the Fall 2018.
This picture that I took of Miller Chapel really isn’t anything special. Except that I took it on my first night at seminary, when I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to stick around. I never posted it because I thought it would look stupid if I ended up needing to leave. That’s what trauma does to you – it convinces you that you’re not going to stick around very long.
Living with a mental illness complicates things, because sometimes, if I’m not careful, I start to think that I’m only one step away from a major problem – like my mind is always on the brink of betraying me.
So on the days when my brain is obnoxious, I try to remind myself that I don’t always need an escape route. I do a quick survey of the room and name what’s happening (someone is typing too loudly, etc.) and remind myself that I am safe.
Here’s the thing: I spent every day of my first year at Seminary waiting for a reason to quit, but I’m glad I didn’t, because sometimes the most healing thing you can do is to remain, despite the feelings of fear and doubt that creep in. Sometimes you have to remain to remind yourself that you are strong and capable.
Sometimes we stay because we are here, and for a lot of us that is its own miracle.