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I went to Bible Study this evening and whilst there were moments when I struggled ever so slightly I have to tell you that actually I felt very relaxed and really enjoyed myself and this was so good.  But when I got home I noticed myself tensing up mentally.

And it got me to thinking.  I wonder if you have ever reflected on when and where you feel able to relax and when and where you are not able to relax?

Perhaps you are one of those super confident people who feels relaxed in most places.  LOL If you are then all I can say is that I bet you would be so relaxed if you lived inside my head!

What is it that removes our ability to relax?  Personal circumstances?  Our Pasts?  Current situations?  Responsibilities  or rather too many responsibilities?  Childhood Experiences?

Likewise, what is it that affords you the ability to relax?  Is it something inside or about you or indeed something inside or about the people you are with? Are there certain things that nearly always or “usually” relax you?

For me it seems to be rivers, open or running water and bridges.  Which is a little bit strange and ironical since in the past when I have suffered from suicidal ideology one of the first places that I would go in order to venture into realizing that ideology would be the river or the open water and especially to a bridge over it.

Perhaps there are one or two people in your life who comfort and relax you?  Certainly that can be the case and they can be a God-send can’t they?  Wasn’t that the beauty of the relationship between Huck and Tom?

(The other day was Mark Twain’s birthday and Google had this really neat Huck and Tom logo theme going on and so that is why they are in my mind as it reminded me of my boyhood passion for the story.)

Of course it does happen that sometimes the very thing, even the very people who used to comfort you end up being the very things or the very people who cause you distress.  And yes this can be a very difficult thing to deal with.  But isn’t the reason it can be so very hard to deal with that because they normally give you such comfort and support and reassurance they mean so very much to you and so the loss of that deeply affects you?

You see for those of us who suffer from poor mental health sometimes finding the ability to relax is very difficult.  Everyday situations that folk take in their stride – seemingly without even thinking – can in fact be very disturbing, threatening or stressful to us.  At least that is my experience and certainly my experience at the moment.

Situations or circumstances that appear common-place, ordinary or even insignificant to some hold a different presence or significance to you and in fact those people’s inability to understand that simply aggravates the situation even more.  Likewise, and yes I am trying to be very objective ad fair here, the fact that we are already aggravated means that we are quite possibly over-sensitive and not as forgiving or understanding as we should perhaps be?  So it can all end up as one big mess.

Of course there are varying degrees of this…

Some folk become extremely anxious or are extremely anxious most of the time.  For other folk it is less about becoming anxious to any great level and more about that inability to relax.  [Personally I would place myself in that category most of the time with only occasional “extreme” episodes.]

Whatever level you are on, one thing I am sure of is that I (and I am sure a lot of folk like me) don’t want to be this way.

Actually (going back to our Huck & Tom themes) I would rather do the whole Huckleberry Finn thing, kick of my shoes and socks and go fishing!

Being a loner and not really feeling as if I truly fitted in as a child and being an avid reader I have to admit to being a big fan of  good old Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.  Actually I really did relate to a lot of what they went through.

But as much as I could relate to it I envied Huck Finn greatly! Envying him mainly because he had so much of what I never had and the biggest part of what he had that I didn’t was the mental freedom or ability to relax!

Oh don’t get me wrong, it isn’t for the want of trying!  As I said above I would if I could – and indeed if I were but a boy – do the whole Huckleberry Finn things  and kick off my shoes and socks and go fishing.

Heck if I could – and if I were still a boy – I would find a remote watering hole somewhere and go skinny dipping!  Even if it did mean risking being run off by the local farmer!

But of course I am not a boy anymore (actually I am not really convinced I ever was) and at my age and my size going off skinny dipping is neither quaint, charming or advisable.

Unlike Tom and Huck I am fully grown and have responsibilities in life.  Indeed I have kids of my own and am more concerned about their having the freedom and ability to go “fishing” or to “skinny dip” than I am my having them.

And unlike Huck and Tom I am confined to this perpetual prison that is my mental health with only occasional reprieves or moments of escapes.  And so when one of these moments comes along like this evening I am extremely grateful.  Am I tense again?  Yes very much so.  Not to the point of anxiety but simply to the point where I am conscious of my mind being at odds with me again.

What the night will bring I do not know.  But I do know that good, loving, and friendly company is worth it’s weight in gold and I do know that I am so grateful when I get to experience it.