“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
I love the Lord of the Rings movies. Shamefully, I’ve never read the books, but it’s on my List of Things I’ll Probably Never Do. Finishing Les Miserables (the book, not the musical) is another optimistic goal.
In the first movie, there’s a scene I instantly loved, both for its symbolism and its drama. The Fellowship is running through the mines of Moria, and after a harrowing battle, their true enemy approaches: the Balrog. “What is this new devilry?”
The Balrog is “a demon of the ancient world” from deep within the ground. “(They) delved too greedily and too deep.”
“This foe is beyond any of you. Run!”
Gandalf stays to face the demon. He stands on the bridge of Khazad-Dûm, bellowing “You shall not pass” and as the Balrog steps onto the bridge, it collapses, plummeting the creature to the depths. Gandalf had jumped the wake-I mean crossed the bridge successfully.
Nice and neat, tie it up with a shiny bow, done.
**(Spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t seen the movies…you know who you are)**
Gandalf forgot about the whip of Balrog. When all seemed victorious, that whip came around and grabbed Gandalf by the leg, dragging him to his demise.
That whip is what stuck out to me for its symbolism. The foe is vanquished, the hero victorious…until…
What I love is the difficult truth it reveals. The enemy doesn’t go away that easily. In most movies, the protagonist need only punch the antagonist and they’re out of the picture. A realization of the problem lends itself to an easy solution. End scene and roll credits. Indiana Jones never realized how lucky he was.
In real life, and in Lord of the Rings, we’re reminded that the enemy doesn’t just go away. We can feel like we’ve just crossed the biggest hurdle, jumped the biggest wake, but when we start our sigh of relief, we’re hit again. And each time it rears its ugly head, we’re a little more defeated; a little weaker.
I WANT to be happier. I want to be a light in people’s lives. I want to be kind. I want to make people laugh. I want to make the world a better place, even if it’s just for a few people.
But I worry I can’t anymore. That damn whip keeps coming back. I thought that low point from a few weeks ago would be it. I could stand up, dust myself off, and learn from it. What I didn’t consider was the problem that caused the low point. I dealt with the symptoms, but not the root of the problem. My problem isn’t insomnia, heat, dehydration, or a migraine. My problem is that I can’t seem to fit anywhere without a fundamental change to who I am. I’m depressed, anxious, and easily stressed. I am naturally built that way. Beyond that, I’m happy, excitable, and love to laugh. I am both of these sides in one person.
I’m brilliant, and I’m a total fool. I’m “like totally friendly,” and I’m Wednesday Addams. I’m silly, and I’m depressed. Every job I have ever attempted requires me to be that first person all the time. And when I try it (because really? I love being happy), Balrog’s whip always comes back and reminds me of how ill-equipped I am to fit in. That whip is a bitch. It’s the Debbie Downer character I mentioned earlier , but it’s not a silly back-and-forth conversation. It’s always there, even when I legitimately feel so happy. It’s always waiting to reach up and drag me down again when I feel safe.
1. I was in a place this week that always brings me joy. I was singing with people I love. At one point, one single comment was made that threw me off. It reminded me of how far from ideal I am. And that whip dragged me right back down, even in my happiest place.
2. I thought a difficult situation had run its course this week. Two days ago, I got a phone call that it is not only continuing, but increasing.
3. Yesterday, I had an appointment with my doctor for my anxiety/depression issues. I expected a kind response and an offer for help, but instead I had a cold reception and a suggestion for inpatient care two states away.
For a doctor, he sure knew how to make a situation worse. Whatever happened to “primum non nocere?”
Balrog’s whip struck three times this week. And after each one, I’ve stood defiantly and said “F*** this.”
I AM stronger than this situation. I CAN adapt. I AM a kind and happy person.
There is no doubt I have two sides to my personality. Everyone does. There is also no doubt that who I really am, who I WANT to be, is being overshadowed by depression and anxiety. Though my doctor seemed to want me committed (Wednesday Addams would be so proud), I got an anti-anxiety prescription instead. I’m fighting for who I WANT to be, and right now it feels overwhelming, but a little hopeful. Gandalf says it better:
“Darkness took me. But it was not the end. I felt life in me again. I have been sent back, until my task is done.”
And I hope, in a little while and with the help of drugs and people I love, I can say this, too:
“Through fire… and water… From the lowest dungeon to the highest peak, I fought him, the Balrog of Morgoth. Until at last, I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountainside. ”
Because really? That is the COOLEST LINE EVER.