Yesterday I found myself trying to print something at work, only to be told that there was a dreaded paper jam. I opened the machine up, found the piece of paper that had caused such an unforgivable crime to occur, removed it, and happily went back to trying to print, thinking that victory (over the office printer) was mine.
You see where this is going, don’t you? The printer sensed my outsized pride and brought me down a peg by continuing to jam in the same place and in the same way. Maybe victory was not mine after all.
I mean this printer had one job. Okay, so it is a printer/scanner/copier, so it has three jobs. But it couldn’t do any of them, brought to a grinding halt each time a piece of paper tried to pass through it.
And I know what you are thinking. This is not that big of a problem, and very much a first-world problem. And you would be right on both counts. Yet it is also such a familiar tale for those of us who live with mental illness. We think we are making progress, we think victory is ours, and then, sometimes, we end up feeling like we are right back where we started.
Add to that that when you are fighting off a low-grade depression, and you have had a few things not go your way already that day, that week, and that month, little irrational triggers like this can knock you off track in a big way.
Recognizing those triggers is like recognizing the error messages that the infernal office printer kept flashing at me. It allows you to try to address the problem. Sometimes, simply removing the jam is sufficient. Other times, you might need someone who knows more about the printer than you do. Either way, action is required in either case if you want the internal wheels to start spinning again.
Victory may not have been mine yesterday, but not for lack of trying. And in my defeat, I learned that I need help in order to fix it. Sometimes, we may feel irrevocably jammed up as well, but a little help and victory will be ours once again.