There’s nothing quite like twelve hours of D&V, after a week-long chest infection, to take your mind off the latest 4 month spell of depression. These three factors left me feeling quite sorry for myself in the wee hours of this morning. But as the bowels of my digestive system met the bowels of the night, I began to learn afresh about the power of thankfulness.
Loathe as I am to admit it, I’m quite a gifted host of pity-parties – particularly when I’m the only one on the guest-list. With the party in full swing on my bathroom floor at 3 a.m., I danced rhythmically to the tune of pebbledash-poos and projectile-bile-bombs (often simultaneously). In between dances I lay on the hard floor, sweating, shaking, and wishing my Mum was here to hold me and stroke my head. Being a 30 year old man doesn’t make me immune to the need for maternal comfort; to hear those wonderful words – “you’re my brave little soldier”.
In fact, I think there’s emotional strength in admitting that. Physical weakness often enables us to embrace our deepest human needs; the yearning for loving relationship that is hard-wired into our DNA. The age of the stiff-upper-lip is dead. We all know that. It’s just that some lips are more willing to admit it than others.
So, as the war in my body waged on – my little white blood cell army-men fighting bacteria on two fronts, located at opposing ends of my digestive system – the war in my head began.
The war of mentality. The war between the opposing forces of ‘victim’ and ‘victor’.
The thought ‘why me?’ is always the first shot across the bows of my brain in this war. Those two little words, if dwelled upon, are the catalyst for a downward spiral into despair. Have you noticed how often we ask ‘why me?’, and how rarely we ask ‘why not me?’
Have you noticed how easy we find it to see the patches of green grass on the other side of the fence, whilst completely ignoring the steaming piles of manure right next to them? A friend of mine says of this; “the grass is greenest where you water it most”.
Have you noticed how we compare our low-lights to other people’s high-lights? Have you ever compared yourself to others and come away feeling better about yourself? Watching the Jeremy Kyle show doesn’t count in this case. But a wise man once said that “comparison is the thief of joy”.
We get lured into these mental traps that make us victims, not victors.
The only way to break free is to start thanking. To develop an ‘attitude of gratitude’.
So about 4 a.m., I started thanking God for vomit. I did! You know you’re winning the mental battle when you’re thanking God for vomit! I started thanking my stomach for working so hard to expel the virus it was fighting. Because without vomiting and ddhiaorrhearhaerrrha (let’s be honest, no one know how to spell the ‘D’ word), my body would succumb to the malignant bacteria. I started thanking God that I had clean water to wash my hands with, and flush the toilet with. And soap, and someone to bring me round flat-coke and dhioaioaralytyte (spelling issues as above).
Because millions of people don’t have those things. And many of those millions die from the very sickness that I know will only last 24-48 hours in my case; because I have sanitation, medication and the NHS. Thank God for the NHS! Too many people don’t!
As I prayed and thanked, beginning with the smallest stuff, I began to experience a bizarre sense of joy that one just shouldn’t experience in that situation. But I began to genuinely believe that this too would pass – D&V, chest infection, depression and all. I began to hope for the bright morning arriving at the end of a dark night. For the mercies and goodness of God, fresh and new with every sunrise. For the healing after the hurt. For the Victor after the Victim.
And I felt a sense of deep blessing that both the war in my body, and in my head, was being waged on such a comparably comfortable battleground as my bathroom floor.
Thank God for vomit.