Like, cycling – or for that matter, motorcycling (I’ve spent quite a bit of time as a biker biatch on the back of a good friend’s motorbike. I’m a huge fan of the current one – his totally hot Honda 1100cc – and beg for a ride whenever I’m in Sydney. Purrrrr!!). And, as I’ve already explained, I love my push bike…
The thing with being on two wheels in a four wheeled culture is that no one sees you. As a bike rider you can’t ever think cars, trams, buses, trucks or even pedestrians actually notice you on the road.
For all intents and purposes, you’re invisible.
Once, a couple of years back I actually had to shout quite loudly at a guy crossing the street. I was barrelling along at 40km/hr or so… he made eye contact but still… he was gonna walk straight into me. That sure would have hurt both of us at the speed I was moving. And it would’ve trashed my bike too!
But like a deer in headlights, he didn’t change his course. So I had to take evasive action… thankfully there weren’t any cars or trams coming up behind me or I woulda been squished.
As a two-wheeled commuter, I consider it part of my job to learn to deal with the blindness of others in order to keep myself from harm’s way.
And really, that’s how I deal with depression and post-traumatic stress, too.
Michelle over at Tackaberry Chronicles wrote a great post on Baylor University’s study of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Interestingly, it seems parts of the brain actually shrink after exposure to traumatic experiences. Which can impact things like decision making, ability to deal with stress, and also, the brain’s capacity for inhibiting fear.
Reading this kind of stuff helps me understand (rather than excuse) my reactions in certain situations… and for those with some grace and perception, it helps me to help them get it – why I might suddenly drop out of circulation. Or, when panic attacks set in, see them for what they are instead of thinking… geez, Svasti just totally freaked out. What’s with her?
Just like the dude crossing the road in front of my bike, other people for the most part can’t see what’s right in front of them. I’m definitely not the first person to feel like they’ve been falling apart in a serious way, right under the noses of others…
Even when there’s external signs pointing to things not being okay… many people simply can’t see it. Or they’re too caught up in whatever is going on in their own life (see: Light on the train) to notice if you’re a quivering heap on the floor.
So, I try to change my view. It’s easy to label others as lacking in discernment, cold, unfeeling or insensitive. But really, that’s just a perception, not reality. And it’s not fair, actually. Coz everyone’s got crap to deal with.
I’m fully aware that my emotional world is highly invisible to almost everyone – even some of those closest to me, even if I tell them I’m in trouble… even when I point them to this blog to read what I’ve written… I simply can’t expect them to realise or understand. They aren’t empaths, and they can’t read minds or feel what I’m feeling.
To date, I can think of only three people who’ve somehow known exactly what to do or say. Not that it’s the same thing each time… they just know how to be there in the right way.
Minor update (after reading Susan’s post and commenting): Possibly the common theme with the three people I mentioned is this – they never tried to do anything about how I was feeling… they just tried and succeeded in connecting with me in a human-to-human way. And, they demonstrated that they cared. It wasn’t just pretty words. It’s that kind of connection I think, that helps us remember that really… we’re not alone at all.
There are choices, always.
Every time someone fails to see, or care, or know what’s going on… I can choose to view that as a new hurt. Or not. I choose… not.
But, what I do choose is – to keep cycling onwards… keep taking care of me as best I can, relying primarily on myself… and the handful of people who do get it. Who can see the difference between when I’m in a good space and when I’m just not…
And constantly work to find that place where I can let go of the tension, the strain and the pain. Coz I do think its entirely possible.