Yesterday, Chicago started its Monday morning with a steady rain. No worries, I thought, I have an umbrella. Unfortunately, that umbrella was broken by the wind within half a block of my walk from the train station to work. It was bent and snapped where the handle attaches to the umbrella itself. For half a block or so I tried to hold the broken umbrella top in such a way as to still block most of the rain. But as the wind continued to whip, it was clear that this was a losing endeavor as the umbrella became more and more useless. And so, I folded up the remnants of my umbrella and tossed it into a nearby trash can where it joined the other umbrellas that had clearly broken in the wind.
Then, as I continued to walk, now cold and wet, and getting colder and wetter by the minute, I looked down to notice the middle finger of my right hand covered in blood, which mixed with the water on my hand making little crimson swirls on my fingertip. Perfect.
And that was the start to my morning. Cold, wet, and bleeding. Why am I telling you this? Is it just to vent? No, not completely (although don’t get me wrong there is a degree of venting here, but also a subtle thanks for nothing to the umbrella company, seriously get your shit together and build a better umbrella, but that isn’t my main point either). You see, this bloody rain, this series of unfortunate events on my way to work seemed normal to me because it seems that, for me at least, bad luck seems to pile on top of itself.
And I know, I know I am not the only one to have a string of bad luck. But as I have said before, mental illness can be extremely isolating and can make you feel like all of these things are only happening to you. And when there is a run of bad luck and you are struggling with dark thoughts, then it all comes back to you.
If only you’d gone a different way the wind wouldn’t have caught the umbrella just right. Or maybe you should have just bought a better umbrella. Or taken a taxi. Or stayed home because the rain was clearly a sign that you ignored. Or any one of a hundred other ridiculous, illogical thoughts.
A big part of my therapy is recognizing these thought patterns and learning to redirect them. They will still be there, but I can be in control of how I react to them. And It is still something I struggle with.
Sure, in the moment, as I was dripping rain and blood upon the sidewalk, hurriedly making my way toward the office so I could bandage my wound and dry off, it felt like my fault. But once at my desk it became clear it was just unforeseeable bad luck, something that happens to everyone. And so, rather than continue to swirl around with my dark thoughts, I moved on with my day, was fairly productive, and even managed to turn my luck around.
That is the magic of therapy. It can improve bloody rain and other unfortunate events, along with the dark thoughts you allow to rain down upon yourself.
And before you know it, the sun comes out again.