I was grappling with divorce when I learned that 1300 miles away my mother was losing her mind. Alzheimer's disease had been stealthily stealing it from her.
As a daughter, my decision was as swift as it was inevitable. As a parent, my task was heart-wrenching. My son was in middle school. His father resided in another state. I would ask my boy in the midst of unprecedented emotional turmoil to relinquish what fragile stability remained for him: I wanted to move across the country to live closer to my parents. So much to expect of a 14-year-old, and yet, he didn't complain. We left Nebraska and relocated to North Carolina. Thus, began a decline in my already tenuous mental health that I had refused to address for decades.
As her disease progressed, I helped my father care for my mother until the two of us could no longer manage without assistance. Her final years and subsequent death triggered a life-altering and profound depressive episode that nearly killed me.
As I struggled to survive, I experienced a genuine epiphany.
My son was nearly finished with college. My father’s health was good. I realized I had a unique window of opportunity to break convention without adverse consequence to anyone else. With nothing more than the longing to escape the tyranny of depression, certainly without a practical plan, I seized that opportunity.
I abandoned a secure job. I sold, shredded, and shipped off twenty years' worth of stuff that I no longer wanted, and may have never needed. Essentially, I upended nearly every semblance of stability to live in a tiny, 320-square-foot home to pursue a life of travel. Travel for the love of it, while in pursuit of better mental health. And I hoped to live even smaller. Eventually. As small as a 21-foot Class B RV.
I should feel burdened by the urgency of having to devise new ways to generate income*. I don't. Having nothing left to lose is curiously liberating. So I trudge onward. Slowly and unsurely. Emotionally and financially challenged, the new terrain is treacherous and I frequently stumble. Sometimes, it takes many long, dark days before I recover. But I do. Because the prospect of successfully creating a brand new life for myself remains terribly enticing. The possibilities have sparked a nearly forgotten sense of hope. Depression and anxiety do their best to extinguish that spark; the effort to protect the dream is often discouragingly exhausting.
That hope, though. Even when it's elusive, there is yet a flicker. On the worst days, imprisoned by a crippling sense of worthlessness, crushing hopelessness, and surrender, in my mind's eye, I'm out there. On the road.
I try not to overthink. I'm truly and surprisingly content with less. I like my little place in North Carolina though, admittedly, I'm frequently consumed with the need to flee. And I do. All the while searching for a sense of peace that's never within reach.
Eventually, I'll find the way to my truth and healing. I intend to share the journey with you.
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