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Stigma Fighters : Dave Wise

Recovery by Walking with a Pug and a Friend in the Rain…

About a month back, I went for a walk around the outside of the Missouri Botanical Gardens. It was an overcast morning, and I was feeling somewhat depressed and anxious about my personal life and career life. I called my friend C. He and I, along with his pug dog, Archimedes, decided to go for a walk to clear our heads, get those positive endorphins going, and get out in the fresh summer air.

It was barely sprinkling when we left home. About half way around the outside of the Missouri Botanical Gardens it started pouring down rain. It was miserable. I asked my friend C. if we could turn around and go back home. He said, “We are already halfway or more towards home but moving on a new path, forward.” I looked around for a tree to stand under with the pug, Archimedes, or a doorway to use as a shelter from the rain. There was none. In that moment I had an epiphany…

…For weeks previously, I had been miserable at my job for many reasons, having problems in my personal and family life, and not feeling centered or balanced. As I often did, I reached out to one of my best friends for friendship and support and maybe even some advice or guidance. In that moment when C. said, “We are already halfway or more towards home but moving on a new path, forward,” I had the epiphany or realization that I had been waiting weeks for.

It is simple. We started out on a journey together, two friends and a pug (so really three friends). It began to rain very hard, pouring, and there was no shelter to be found. In that moment we had three choices:

We could turn around and head back the way we came; however, we would still get soaked from the rain and be wet and miserable the whole way home, and it wouldn’t save us any time going back the way we came.
We could stand still, frozen in time, waiting for the rain to stop, but we didn’t know when that might occur. There was no shelter or tree to hide behind from the rain, or life. We would get wet and soaked standing still, frozen, and if we did stand still and try and wait it out, we would get no closer to getting home.
We could continue to walk towards home, on a new path the three of us had never walked together, and be moving forward. Yes, we would get soaked from the rain. Yes, being soaked by the rain in a storm feels miserable. My socks would make those squishy noises, and my glasses wouldn’t be clear, but we would be walking towards our goal, home, together, two friends and a pug dog. Eventually the rain would stop, we would make it home, we would be able to dry off and change into new clothes, and the sun would come out again eventually.
C. and I, along with Archimedes, decided to continue walking in the rain, during the storm, towards home.

Eventually we made it home. We were soaked. It was not a pleasant walk or journey. It felt miserable, but we made it home, together. We all were able to dry off, put on new clothes (we towel dried Archimedes’ pug dog fur), and made it home. The sun came out later that day too. The rain and storm didn’t last forever. We didn’t stay wet or miserable forever.

To me, this story is a great metaphor for life, my life, in particular. I had been on a journey, not alone, but with friends, family, a fiance, and coworkers. It began to rain, pour, and storm in my life, and I felt stuck. My first instinct was to turn around and go back the way I came, thinking I would get home quicker. For me this would mean disengaging from relationships, allowing the darkness and anxiety to envelope all of my thoughts, and giving up. My second instinct was to remain frozen and hope the rain stopped or look for temporary shelter. This option isn’t always bad if there is a temporary shelter available, but in my case there wasn’t a temporary shelter from the rain and storm available to me. I could have continued in my own ineffective communication, ineffective coping skills, and cognitive distortions based on fear and stigma about my mental illness, but I would have remained frozen or stuck in the rain. So I chose the road less traveled, the more difficult path in my opinion, and kept walking the new, unfamiliar, path towards home. I kept my eyes on the goal of getting home to dry off, put on new clothes, and rest in safety and shelter from the rain, but I didn’t have to press on towards that goal alone. I had a friend and pug dog walking with me, side by side, doing life together.

To me this true story and metaphor is a beautiful picture of how life is meant to be lived–together, walking side by side, down new paths, through storms, and towards home. When we get home, we all get to dry off and put on new clothes. We get to celebrate together. People are meant, or maybe even created, to do life together, to need each other, and walk together in the rain. Sometimes we have to guide each other, like we did with Archimedes, or remind each other of the truth like my friend C. did for me.

Lately, I have been asking my mom and my fiance K. to remind me of something beautiful in the world and something true. This helps me have gratitude for my life in its current moment and place in the universe. This helps me remember I’m a human too and my story matters. This also helps me love others well, have grace and patience, and forgive and keep walking through the rain towards home.

I’m a man living with bipolar disorder. It does not define me or my journey. Sometimes it feels like a rain storm. Sometimes I need help from others to remember the beauty of a pug dog walking with me on my journey and the truth, that the sun will come out again eventually. I will get to dry off at home and put on new clothes and rest. It’s ok to rest; there will be time.

Pug dogs, friends, journeys together in the rain and life, this is the beauty and the truth I am reminded of today.

-Dave

#DaveWiseMatters #ItsOkToTalkAboutIt #EndStigma #Recovery #PugDogWalksIntheRainWithFriends #Beauty&Truth

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Dave-Profile-PhotoDavid Wise is 33 years old, creative, extroverted, and enjoys friendship. He is a native of Wisconsin by way of adoption from Guatemala. Currently David resides with his fiancé in St. Louis, Missouri. For fun he likes playing guitar, enjoys reading, bicycling and going to coffee shops. David considers himself on the journey of recovery and believes recovery is a process. David blogs regularly about his mental illness, bipolar disorder I, mental health recovery and finding and losing faith at:

davewisematters.com

#DaveWiseMatters #ItsOkToTalkAboutIt #EndStigma #Recovery

Dave can be found on his website, Facebook and Twitter

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  • H.M. Jones

    I love the botanical gardens there. I lived in St. Louis for a while. I also like the comparison of being caught in the rain to depression. It won’t last, even if it is miserable.