Interesting thought experiment lately, dear readers.
Are you ready to go down the rabbit hole?
The thought that has slowly circled my brain is that my depression has taught me a lot, and I suppose in a way, I am thankful for the spiraling darkness that takes hold ever so often. A contradiction of ideas, especially in this social climate where not feeling is better than feeling bad, but the truth, never-the-less.
That being said, it is hard to remember that idea when in the middle of such spiraling darkness, as I am right now. As I write this, the neighbor dog is barking its yapping bark, the wind is cold along my freezing feet, and I have a budding headache behind my eyes. Combined with these things is the feeling of being so near tears that I can feel my throat closing (though there is no apparent reason for such sadness) and a general despondency about life. I told my husband I have become nihilistic in my old age, and I suppose in many ways that is accurate, though not to the extent that Nietzsche defined it.
It is hard in the midst of the muddy water that is my depression to remember that it is only because of my depression that I am who I am; however, it is a thought that I am playing with, seeing if it will mold into something useful.
You see, if every day was a new challenge to be discovered and cheerfully conquered (how my husband sees life), I wouldn’t have any need to search out the answers to existential crisis like why are we here; is their a purpose to life; does God exist; what is suffering and how can we eliminate it (hint: we can’t); among other various questions that have plagued thinkers for millenniums, and which is my brain, especially when in the throes of depression.
Is life suffering, as the Budha declared, and is the key to life truly in how we deal with that suffering? If someone dies, what is our reaction? Do we control it? Do others control it? Are we playing a role? Do we blame God, life, others? Do we blame ourselves?
How do we move through the world with the least amount of suffering? Does kindness to others equal kindness to ourselves?
Are we the light? How does that look? How does that work?
What is our purpose? Do we have a Purpose? Is there some reason for our existence, some life plan that we must try to find in order to be truly happy?
Is it possible to be truly happy?
All of these questions, plus a handful more, are questions that I have asked at some point in my past. In the process, I have found ideas, thoughts, and theories that are truly versions of answers, or at least hint at answers. And, a lot of those conclusions have bettered my life. So, in a way, logically, I can thank depression because I am calmer, more centered, more confident in my person because I was propelled to explore.
But then It hits. And it is a struggle to remember all those things because It is black. Sure, I have my coping mechanisms. Just like so many others with depression and anxiety, I put in place those fail-safes and mechanisms so the darkness doesn’t ever get too deep… I don’t stare too long into the abyss… and I do, always, come out of it and enjoy weeks, sometimes months before I am dragged down once more and the cycle begins again.
Well, then the doubts creep in. And the insecurities. And the sadness. And the feeling of hopeless anger because the world is terrible, and people are terrible to each other, and what does it all mean?
Which. Brings me to right now.
The dog has stopped barking. My coffee is halfway finished. In one hour I will leave to go pick up my son from school. I write because the weight is heavy and as I sit under the weight, I have a moment of inspiration about feeling bad. Not the physical feeling bad of a headache or being sick, but the mental feeling bad:
I question the reason for it.
Evolutionally, I could see depression as a trigger for action. Humans do not like to feel bad. We run away from pain or do whatever we can to get rid of it. So, depression is a catalyst for change. But, what if somewhere along the way, with changing social norms, we stopped trying to figure it all out, and just started taking drugs so we no longer have to feel it.
Very Important Caveat: because there are mental diseases that are severe and medication is required. In fact, depression can be one of those and I am absolutely not suggesting anyone get off their meds. That kind of decision requires consultation with a doctor and a great deal of thought.
I am speaking in a personal space right now. My depression is low key enough that it is very, very uncomfortable but it doesn’t really interfere with my life other than the occasional crying jags and sharp irritation with my family. Otherwise, I function. So. Please, don’t take this in the wrong context. Depression is terrible. And real. And scary. And if you are feeling suicidal etc please, please seek help. You are beautiful and required and the world needs you.
Again, I speak from a personal space.
And in this personal space, I wonder if running from my depression, from pain in general, is the way to go about dealing with it (Again, FOR ME). Depression is me. Not outside of me. A piece that is real and actual. And a piece that has propelled me to grow (evolution?).
Why, then, do I run away? Why am I so fearful of it?
A few years ago I read an article about weight loss. I honestly cannot remember the name of the article now, but the author wrote that so many of us see our body as separate from us. We starve it, work it to death, overindulge, don’t get enough sleep, etc. because we view our body as NOT PART OF OURSELVES.
Yet. It is such an intricate, important aspect of our entire existence. Our body houses all of everything else. It is a piece of us just as much as our brain or our personality or our soul (if you believe in souls). So, why do we view our bodies as separate (it has to do with control btw)?
I found myself thinking about that article in relationship to my depression. Depression is an aspect of myself. Can it be terrible? Absolutely. So can the acne that I can’t seem to get rid of on my nose, or the tendency of my skin to burn no matter how much sunscreen I wear. Those are aspects of my body, my very important body that is part of myself. Just as the depression is part of my mind, the mind that can think in theoretics until the sun comes up.
Life is suffering. Depression is part of my suffering. Up until recently, I have done things in an attempt to get rid of the depression. But, somewhere in the last few years, I realized it is not going away. So, I am trying to figure out ways to change my perception of it.
And that is where I am now.
The coffee is gone. I know have 20 minutes until I need to pick up my son. The clouds are moving in, but there is sun peaking through the trees. I still have cold feet. I still feel the weight. But. Maybe I am on to something because the dark doesn’t seem quite so heavy. Too soon to say, really, but I peer down the road of inquiry and decide…yes, I am going to take that trail.