91. CLUNKER- Staying Positive During the Pains of Mental Illness

‘Clunker’ is a word from 1930 and it is mostly an informal American/English term. Clunker is defined as follows in two different ways:

“An old or badly working piece of machinery”

“Someone or something notably unsuccessful”

Sometimes when I’m on the road or walking around where I live, I often see old, abandoned cars or trucks sitting around like rust buckets at the edge of someone’s property. Most of the time I take a couple of seconds to observe their abandoned state and wonder if they would work or not, then I wonder how long it has been sitting there. I then carry on with my day and never think of the eroding abomination on wheels again.

However, there was one old truck that I marveled at each time I went to my grandpa’s ranch. It is a large chevy truck (1965 ¾ ton, 4-wheel drive) it sat at the side of the house and never moved. My mom would warn my sibling and I to stay away from the truck because there would often be huge wasp nests lurking in wait of unsuspecting kids. Every time we drove to see grandpa, the truck would be there… Looking just a little more worn and weathered as it was completely at the mercy of mother nature.

Once I reached adulthood, I learned that one of my uncles wanted to get their hands on that truck and fix it up, being a bit of a mechanic himself. It is now in his possession and every time I have gone to visit my uncle, I’ve seen the wasp Kingdom of America look more and more like a sweet ride. It was super cool to see my uncle’s vision of what that truck is capable of being — pretty and in working order. My uncle has spent the last few years restoring the old chevy to its former glory. Looking at it now, its crazy to think that this was the same wasp haven I avoided like the plague as a child. But it got me thinking about how sometimes mental illness made me feel physically.

There are some mornings I wake up with a migraine or ache and pain. Sometimes I wake more exhausted then when I went to sleep. I mean when you are struggling with severe sleep apnea, you never know what state you are going to wake up in. A couple of weeks ago, I woke up with some pretty severe shoulder pain and generally just achy everywhere. Also, my mind was already on the diving board of the pool of depression.

I was annoyed. Extremely annoyed. I like to run in the morning, and I just couldn’t run that day, so I just walked. It turned into a slow half workday as the rest of the day was spent on selfcare. I remember standing in my kitchen and announcing to my parents that I felt like a clunker. My body wasn’t working as well as I wanted it to, and it was getting in the way of me making any sort of progress. It was very aggravating to me. I kept asking myself as I was scrolling down all the social media platforms, why I couldn’t be full of energy? And not deal with the pain that I do, and run like a nice Lamborghini as it appears other people do.

But no matter how little patience I had with myself on that particular day… It got me thinking. Mental illness has a way of making me feel like a clunker, but I know what I am capable of. Just like my uncle knew what the Chevy was capable of, I know that I am capable of making the life that I want. Yes, some days are going to be slower than others as I do have to make allowances for my sleep apnea and mental illness because sometimes, I don’t have the energy to push through as it is more harmful than stopping. Every day is a wild ride to keep everything balanced. But just like grandpa’s truck that can now take on the open road and go anywhere — so can I.

We don’t have to define ourselves as the clunker, rusting away with wasps — sitting there unmoving, with no one daring to approach us. No matter how far gone we think we are, we just aren’t that far gone. There is always someone around us, who sees what we are capable of and willing to put in the effort to help us get our wheels spinning again into the direction of health.

It is going to take some maintenance and allowances for slower speeds because some mornings are “clunker” mornings. But the biggest thing is to never lose hope that you too will conquer the open road and reach whatever destination your mind and your heart want to reach.

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