Road Rage

At re:generation, I’m supposed to keep it about me. How I handle a situation, not about what’s been done to me. Normally, I excel at this, because being hard on myself is my superpower.

My favorite sticker

But during the first week of groundwork, I had an assignment. Pick a struggle and conquer it for a whole day. Paraphrased, of course.

Groundwork is work

I chose staying chill when people drive stupidly. And I discovered that I’m perfectly capable of making things NOT about my reaction. Purely about what’s being done-not always to me-but in front of me. It might be strange for a fantasy writer to say this, but I like to stay in the lines. If we all follow the rules, we can avoid the false-start-tango at four-way stops. Just take your turn and assume I’m going to take mine. And off we go.

Not so simple, sadly. I get equally annoyed with the jerk who breezes through when they know VERY WELL that I stopped first, and the person who hesitates, hitting brakes, gas, brakes … wasting my time. My husband resolutely stops during such events, not bothered, listening to songs inside his head. But me? There’s no room for music when adrenaline is making your heart push steam out your ears!

“Just go!” I shout, my stomach concocting something sour out of whatever I nibbled before I left. Now I’m in a bad mood. The people who parked in the driving lane make me angrier. And don’t get me started on people who merge onto the highway slowly or dare to drive under the speed limit in the fast lane. My car could run itself on the heat rolling off my skin. Tired of gas prices? Fill your tank with my fury.

I said groundwork was work, right?

So, of course, I chose that. I had to drive my son to work without losing my temper. I needed my therapist in the seat beside me, demonstrating how to relax tension. Heck, just her voice.

But my son was there, and I had told him what I was going to attempt. So much as an eye twitch, he was going to see it.

Nailed it

I prayed about it, left early enough to drive as slowly as necessary, and skipped the angry songs I use to help me imagine how I’m going to write my gladiator battle scenes. And I made it. One day of not getting mad at other people for not driving the way I think they should. But don’t get too happy for me. One day. I still have a long way to go.

Your thoughts?

I’d love to hear from you! Does anything make you crazy on the road? Better yet, do you have any tips for conquering this demon?

I Don’t Want To Be Here

I went through therapy a while back, thinking I was there to overcome depression brought on by the loss of my daughter. Of course, there were other issues, but I felt like it all came down to losing Izzy. Even now, my heart clenches when I type her name. It’s racing a bit. Full stop. I’ll have to take a break before I can finish this.

Rachel McMahon, Rach McMahon, therapy, anxiety, depression, baby toes

Hello Anxiety

The reason I needed therapy came down to the loss of one specific individual, but it wasn’t my daughter. It was me. I had no idea who I was or what I wanted. My days were filled with regret and fear. What I thought was depression was really anxiety, and it had complete control of my thoughts. I didn’t believe good things could happen. I was convinced that the best thing I could do was get out of the way so I didn’t infect others with my hopelessness. So I hid. I’ve always been good at hiding.

hiding, rach mcmahon, rachel mcmahon, anxiety
When hiding almost kills you

Hide and Don’t Seek

March of 2020. I was killing it, coordinating Journey Groups (support groups) at my church, sharing my pain, loving my ministry. And along came the virus, and everyone scattered. I had just made it through the first two months without my daughter, and suddenly all my support was gone. Hate has never been in short supply online, but it really ramped up then. I made an effort to be heard, but my opinion wasn’t popular. So off I went, into my cave. And when the rest of the world started venturing out, I stayed in the shadows.

Rachel McMahon, Rach McMahon, depression, hiding, axiety, therapy

Ten straight months of begging God to kill me. I needed help. That help came in the form of a neighbor who saw me and not only suggested therapy, but made it happen for me. I nearly canceled my first appointment. A therapist couldn’t get my daughter back. She couldn’t take Autism from my sons. She couldn’t un-waste my life.

But I couldn’t throw away what had been given to me. So I went, ears perked for anything that triggered my alarms, anything that told me therapy was just another way for someone to take my money and not help me. Somehow, she navigated her way safely through my minefield of distrust. She found little Rachel and helped her out of the fetal position.

recovery, therapy, Rachel McMahon, Rach McMahon, anxiety, depression

Deep Breaths

Sometimes when I need a good cry, I imagine myself in that room, sitting across from the woman who helped me unpack forty-five years of self-doubts and cumulative trauma. I learned in that space how to find and conquer the lies that were deeply embedded in my brain. Lies that spawned my fiction, yes, but that also trapped me there. Because I couldn’t even create magical problems I didn’t prefer over my real life.

I've had worse, arm cut off, Rachel McMahon, Rach McMahon

I’ve been out of therapy for several months now, and I’m realizing that mental health is like any other discipline. It takes practice. My joy-seeking muscles have atrophied. Anxiety has crept back into my routine, and my tools are largely forgotten. I write my pain into my fiction, but all too often, I find that my attitude is starting to align with that of my flawed characters. I’m starting to not want to be here. Wallowing in ugly thoughts instead of taking them captive. I’ve said the actual words, my face aimed skyward, heart closed off to the god I’m not always convinced is listening.

I don’t want to be here.

I’ve been asking myself for weeks what I should blog about. Photography, special needs, writing. My word cloud suggests I should write about hidden spaces and mysteries. I considered that, but on closer inspection, I noticed something else in my cloud. Between the mentions of secret passages and enchanted forests—things that excite me—the darkest part of me calls out that she still needs help. She’s drowning. So I’m going to dive in. Get raw and real.

Rachel McMahon, Rach McMahon, drowing, anxiety, depression, therapy

I know I’m under here somewhere

First confession: I still don’t like myself. I’m not even going to try to fix that today. It’s a big mess with too many components to fit into one blog entry, and I seriously want to open my manuscript and write about my character’s struggles right now. She’s much more interesting than I am. So I’m leaving it here, at the start of a journey that will hopefully help me to find joy again. I have a long way to go. In this blog, I’ll travel down the dark corridors of my broken mind. I’ll tell the ugly truth. And maybe someone will be touched by it.

What are your thoughts? Have you tried therapy? Did it work for you, and if so, are you still thriving?

I Don’t Want To Be Here