The moon. One side of our moon faces the sun while the other side is completely swept in darkness. The only side that we ever see…the side that faces the sun…faces the light. To many the moon is a symbol of a light in the darkness. We tell stories about the “man on the moon.” The Japanese say that it is a rabbit.
What do you see?
It’s just the moon, though, right? Nothing special. It’s just there because God put it there. It gives us some light in the darkness. Gazing at the harvest moon is a wondrous sight. We all see it, but do we really see?
Anxiety and the moon are quite a lot alike.
Now just wait and hear me out on this one. I have been thinking about this concept for a couple of days, debating whether it really made any sense or not. So I am going to try to explain this…really explain this. This is real talk, here, folks.
For me right now, I have an awful lot of anxiety going on. If you’ve come back here a few times before, that is probably pretty obvious at this point. But really, this can apply to depression, OCD, etc. This could apply to a whole host of “invisible illnesses.” So if you fall into the category of an “invisible illness”, keep reading and tell me if you also see what I see.
I see the moon hanging up there in the sky. It’s bright and beautiful, even when only a crescent. The moon is certainly not alone in the galaxy, either; a whole host of stars, planets, and other interstellar objects are around it. And not to mention, the billions of people living on this planet gaze up at it nearly every night. We write songs and stories about the moon. This moon is pretty popular, isn’t it?
But wait. Earlier I was just talking about the moon having a dark side. That couldn’t possibly be true, could it? Something so beautiful and so popular could not possibly have a side of it constantly cast in the shadows–a side that we never see.
Think about all of the people we see on a day-to-day basis: coworkers, the people at the restaurant where we buy lunch, the UPS driver, nurses at the doctor’s office, the police officer directing traffic, that one lady in the blue Nissan that you meet on the road every morning you drive to work, sometimes even our friends and family. Unless they specifically told us or let us see (not unlike before we learn that we only see one side of the moon), how are we to know that part of them is also cast into a shadow? We would never see it.
It’s amazing how we can hide our troubles. It’s amazing how we can go years directly facing the sun so that our backs are figuratively constantly in a shadow. It’s amazing how people only see what is in front and can easily be completely unknowing of this shadow.
I hide behind this blog, for one. I choose to type how I feel to people I will never ever meet rather than open up to people in real life, even to my therapist. Oftentimes I know how I feel, but willing my lips to move and willing myself to speak words to describe this feeling is just too much. Whenever I’m in a rush in the mornings and have to take my medication to work with me, I huddle up in my cubicle and count out my morning pills and quickly sneak the medicine container back into my desk drawer before anyone notices. Anyone who knows me fairly well–I am sure–has often seen glances into the shadow that I struggle to keep hidden.
Anxiety happens. It knows no boundaries.
Now here’s another one for you…
There’s this “stigma” surrounding mental health that says that it isn’t real and should be kept hidden. You wouldn’t tell a cancer patient to just go get some sleep and wake up and be cured, would you? (See: How People Treat Mental Illness Vs. How They Treat Physical Illness)
Our human minds are either in the dark or facing the sun. We choose to forget that the moon even has a dark side in the first place. People tell us, but we choose to ignore them. It doesn’t really matter, does it?
Yes. It certainly matters.
And I am also here to tell you that YOU matter. If you too have a side cast in darkness that you hide from the rest of the world, I’m here to tell you that I get it. And I sincerely hope that using this metaphor will help you understand those who live with invisible illnesses. There’s a reason they choose to hide this side. There’s a reason some people choose to ignore it. There’s a reason for everything.
There’s also a God for everything. He sees every side of you. He still loves you. You are not less of a person to Him. He opens His arms for you and will care for you because you ARE one of His own. He created you, just like He also created the moon.