When The Bough Breaks

“Rockabye baby, in the treetop.
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall…”

And Mom & Dad will get hauled away for child endangerment, assets and all.

In this present life, balance is way high up on my “this is honkin’ essential” list. Perhaps even at the top.


Balance keeps me physically whole – keeping track of what I eat, how quickly I eat it, what types of fuel I’m choosing to put in the tank, the payback when I choose inappropriate stuff to eat, and the painful reminders to make better choices that follow.

Balance is the cornerstone of my mental wholeness as well, both in how I think and in my emotional state (which is NOT Iowa, for the record).

(Although the Iowa 80 Truck Stop makes me swoon with joy – I could easily live there, and ne’er be seen again.)

(See why balance is a biggie for me?)

Monitoring my emotional balance is especially important – when something has gone awry, that’s where it shows up first. Then we have to look at what’s going on one step back – am I taking those essential little pills that give me traction on the path to balance? Am I sleeping well, or fractured? What’s my schedule like? Am I keeping a regular bedtime and get-the-heck-outta-bed time? Am I making time to listen to the Daily Audio Bible? To get out on my trike and ride? (Riding to work doesn’t count – it has to be a medium to long ride, on the trail, fewer distractions, with sufficient time to allow my brain to slow down and let go of some baggage.)

What about some down time with Vicki?

Have I taken time to write, to try and bring some of the churning thoughts into the physical world, so I can see them and work with them?

That’s a lot to have rockin’ in the treetop, eh? No wonder da baby come crashin’ down like ice off da edge of da roof (said da yooper by marriage).

Most people can get through something like this without having to do CSI: Hamster Brain. They can roll and flow with life, accommodating changes and challenges with grace – at least where anybody can see. What they do in the privacy of their own home is their gig…

… But if it involves punching a life-size cutout of any of a number of celebrities or professional athletes, I beg you – video, please. Or at least let me come over and take a couple swings, eh?

Yah, ya betcha.

I am not one of those people. I am the 1%, not the 99%. No, those numbers have no basis in reality – just a lighthearted attempt at a little humor. Ha ha. Guffaw. Snort.

(Thanks Kassi, for teaching me that no outburst of laughter is complete without a snort.)

I am one of those adults that deals with mental illness.

No, I am not a threat to anyone. No, I am not going to bust out in mind-numbing violence, the kind of which will make headline fodder for years to come. No, I don’t use alcohol to self-medicate, which would complicate things considerably, especially with what it would do to my redecorated innards. I also don’t use food to self-medicate, although I did. Yes I do drugs – solely and exclusively, they are the ones prescribed by some very competent and kind medical professionals who are amazing and know all kinds of stuff. I take exactly what they recommend I take; I don’t forget to take them or decide that I’m doing so good that I can just stop ’em overnight. I am compliant with my treatment plan.

And yes, the very moment that the wind blows and the cradle rocks, I start looking for the reason behind it all, to see if it’s something that is just passing through, a change that needs to be accommodated for a season, or a sign of something that I need to bring to the attention of the aforementioned professionals, that we might pop the hood and tweak the engine.

I’m not self-absorbed. But I AM self-aware – I have to be. Vicki’s on this team too – if we don’t stay on top of it, things get… less than optimal.

Or as Vicki said, “We’ve seen the promised land – we are NOT going back to Egypt!”

She lived in Egypt a long time. She’s glad to be out. So am I, just so we’re clear.

So, why the HECK am I writing all this poopy? Who cares??  

Someone else who deals with mental illness – they do.

Knowing someone else who has to stay on top of stuff like this lets us know that we’re not alone. And as anyone who has ever dipped a toe into the bottomless lake that is mental illness knows, alone is the worst place to be. 

Jeff Manion once said in one of his amazing sermons, “What if hell is the place where God finally grants the one thing we’ve asked of Him time and time again –


Alone with myself? Just my own thoughts, my own nightmares, my own darkness for all eternity? That’s hell enough for me.”

Someone who has stared into the darkness knows how true that is. To know that someone else – anyone else – has also looked into the darkness brings a little tiny glimmer of light into the blackness. Knowing others that take their pills, watch their emotional state, comply with their treatment, or do whatever other stuff is  necessary to keep the darkness at bay – it makes my little steps and routines and things a bit more tolerable. We can go almost anywhere, if we know we’re not alone.

After all, when the cradle rocks, it’s good to know others are around to help steady it. And when the bough breaks, it helps to know someone is around to be a catcher.  

When you’ve dipped a toe into the bottomless lake that is mental illness, the one place you don’t want to be is alone. 


  1. Cal says:

    You know, I really count myself blessed – God proves again that He doesn’t give us more than we can bear, and compared to others (including my own family), my load is light indeed and His grace is overwhelming indeed…

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