SURPRISE! Optimistic folks get depressed. And, maybe a whole lot more than anyone ever hears about… this is important. It is so important that I feel it needs to be addressed, right now. Some of us “optimists” can become preoccupied in our attempts to lift the energy of those around us, that we negate expressing our own very real feelings of sadness. Because, Shit… if the rest of the world can’t remember their “happy place” I sure as hell can’t let them know I’ve lost sight of mine!
Sharing in the many joyful aspects of living is a great art, many people do it very well and I admire them a great deal. Learning how to harness a positive outlook on life is invaluable personally and socially. It can help us find perspective in times of inner turmoil but, it isn’t everything. It certainly helps in finding a lighthearted approach to some of the “heavier” stuff we find ourselves going through but, it doesn’t negate the reality of depression. We all go through “it” in our own time and finding the strength to claw our way back to optimism, can be challenging… for anyone (whether or not that someone is inclined to go towards the light (or not)!
And, that’s why I’m drawn to write this post. I feel it vital to share what is being experienced… in honest ways. And, honestly… it isn’t always gonna be warm and fuzzy. We can all find resonance in each other if, instead of withdrawing from the truth, we learn to better share in our struggles. It remains a fact that no matter how an “optimistic person” may be perceived (or however well they convince themselves that “all is well”) there are important times when being depressed is the perfect scenario. “Hey… (sometimes) that’s just the bitch of living!”
Make “It” Poetic, whatever “It” is:
The truth is, I want my devastation to move me. I want it to get under my skin, like Joplin, and teach me more about everything like Kerouac! I want it to wear red lipstick and a cheetah printed dress that shows off its curves…. and I want it to make me say “DAMN!” I want my depression to be poetic. All of the heights and the depths… I want it to ooze with something I just don’t “get”!
I want the illusion of destruction to force me to feel its layers of perfection. I want it to be strewn with hidden agendas, mysteries to ponder and most of all… meaning (even if i don’t know what the hell it means while I’m feeling it) !! And, I want all of this (most importantly) during the shittiest of times because afterwards, I want to be able to say… “That was an important time”. But, why? Because somewhere… I inevitably crave “game changers” (whether or not I feel like quitting before my next turn or not).
The sadness, us humans can experience promises a gift filled with rich character building. However, this is only if we can move through the “being sad” part and into the greater good of the experience. We need it all, joy & despair, if ever to become wiser. To recognize the implications of doing so… we must honestly accept “going through” these (sometimes unbearable) phases. They cannot be sidestepped or overlooked, they must be felt. We must grow to appreciate the “not so pretty” alongside the desirable parts of being alive.
If we speak freely of our desire to live fully, we must be willing to take on the act (and art) of being OK with feeling every single bit of what that encompasses. And, we better damn well have something honest to write home about or better yet, just write about in general…
Eleanor Roosevelt advised: “Do one thing every day that scares you” and I think, some days that means just owning up to our most vulnerable experiences… the ones that often begin (and end) inside our heads…
“I am a happy gal, I swear. But… some-thing is off and I don’t feel like “myself”. There is upheaval, some-where. Now, if I could just locate this “itch”… all will be well… again. Or was it ever really “well”? Is “it” in my head? Most certainly! Oh, there is so much room in here (my head)… to tinker with thoughts! Thinking and thinking about thinking and on, and on, i go… right back to the same spot… thinking about not feeling like myself. Do I even remember what it feels like to be “Me” ? Is this discomfort heart centered? Does my heart ache? What have I done to get myself in this over analytical place?”
Just stop right there…. Stop with the thinking and the speculating and just write it out… OK… OK….I am currently experiencing an abundance of fluctuating happiness. I am “depressed”. “No, not every waking moment” but, in general… I feel low, vulnerable, sensitive, emotional and exhausted. I have been shook up, startled, confused and I find myself (more often than not) numb. I am temporarily unable to feel the presence of my own light.
The not so encompassing question…
“How are you?”:
Ask how I am doing right now and my answer will likely be: “I’m riding the waves.” And, this makes me laugh because, I don’t really know exactly what that means but, it’s my only fitting answer.
I feel as if I am riding the highs and the lows of being alive, barely. Because, as we all know… it’s exhausting at times. I am not actively resisting the tide but I am, indeed, in a dramatic place. When I am depressed things always feel “Soap-Opera-Esque” and the apropos shenanigans of my own mind serve as amusement in these turbulent times…
Roots of Depression:
I know my deepest heartache stems from feelings of inadequacy. These are deep seeded beliefs, from childhood, that perpetuate a “you’re not worthy” mentality. As Dexter Morgan put it, these are the words of our “Dark Passenger” (often an unspoken about character in all of our novels). This force silently convinces us that we do not deserve abundance in all aspects of our life. It coerces us into believing that we must continue sacrificing some happiness to gain another…”Type”. I refer to this as “mind mumbo jumbo”… totally fake shit that traps us in self pity.
Depression can lend itself to a “shedding” of sorts. It gives opportunity to simplify, prioritize and release resentment, if we take that route. It can actually even reveal positive beliefs, we hold, about the direction of our lives. It gives us space to see that our dreams really aren’t so far fetched when they reside in our heart because… that place is far stronger than any “unworthy” ideas we brew in our mind.
When I have in someway not “lived up” to what I know about my truest self, I get jolted. It is startling but, it is imperative. It shows me that I have certain standards for myself and how I seek to conduct my time, here. It definitively expresses that I have come to a place where I am willing to recognize how my reality is not reflecting certain parts of myself that I wish to know and share, more of…
Unfavorable thoughts can be isolating. They can also be so consuming that the only thing I can think to do is stay away from people. To, in essence, hermit myself until I’ve regained my footing. I have an aversion to negativity. If I can help it, I don’t choose to be around negative people and I try my damnedest NOT to be of negative influence to those around me. I will not be sucked into the false belief that draining the life force out of others will amp up my own feelings of security (it’s an illusion I try to steer clear of). I certainly don’t frequent publicizing my sorrow. Instead, I hibernate. And, sometimes it’s of good use… A damn good hibernation can help someone to figure out what feelings are counterfeits and which are real, and need to be paid attention to…
For the majority of my life I would pat myself on the back for being able to go into this intoxicating bubble of depression because, hey… it was only me here… I can do as much damage to myself as I choose, and no one else is being affected. Or so I thought… I view my hibernation on two levels: Half parts escapism (from having to reveal certain parts of myself to others) and half parts wisdom (through experience and an understanding on how I best heal). It’s not right or wrong, it just is what it is… sometimes it helps and sometimes it hinders, depending on the day.
My hibernation strategy is congruent with an acceptance that we really can’t go outside to fix what is going on inside. There are times when going inward (being alone) and finding solitary space is so damn important… it can’t be overstated. But, I like it there… all alone. In fact, I LOVE it there! SO, it doesn’t always stretch my limits to be alone. What I am now coming to terms with is that perhaps a large part of my “hibernating” is a disguised tendency towards being really stubborn and really selfish.
My bitch of a friend, Nancy:
I call my depressive friend Negative Nancy. She comes to greet & pester me in my lows and when I need her to go away I politely say… get the fuck out! But, she doesn’t always go quietly. We are often our own menaces, not our own heroes and we find internal sidekicks to perpetuate our misery because, as we all know… it loves its company! What we tell ourselves, about who we are defines what we become… this is not a radical concept. It just is what it is… when we tell ourselves that we are not worthy of something, we usually don’t make any room for that experience. The same is true when we fill ourselves with positive ideas about ourselves (and others for that matter). Everyday we enter into a union with our mind and we define what kind of relationship we will have with ourselves depending on what kind of lingo we use, who we choose as our company and whether our energy goes towards motivating or deteriorating our sense of well being.
Just One Moment in Time, At a Time:
I am certain that at least one of my readers, a fellow optimist gone gloomy, may relate to some of what I am putting out…. The truth is that I can think of about 10 other topics I’d rather be writing about right now and yet, I continue on… not fully confident that this will in any way, shape or form, actually help coerce me (or anyone else) from gloominess. But, that’s not my intention. I do not seek to get myself “out” from the blankets of sorrow but, understand it better. I write in hopes of clarity . I write with the intent that what is being offered will serve someone in some way, that is felt (And that way doesn’t even need to be “positive”… It just needs to be something).
Darkness is an Important “place”:
But, we resist it (and, when I say “we”, I mean “I” and when I say “I”, I mean “we” since really, it’s all interchangeable). I/we avoid the darkness because it can be fucking scary. Yes… it can! Our natural inclination is to get away from it… and fast. But, most of us know there is something profound in accepting the darkness. If we deny ourselves adequate time to get in touch with our fears, we will never know them. That is why we must develop a relationship with what scares us, acknowledge and face it… instead of denying it exists.
I have come to recognize that if we spend as much time getting to know our fears, as we do focusing on the things that make us “Happy”, we begin scratching a whole new surface… a place I call JOY. To me, “Being Happy” and “Being Joyful” are not exactly the same things. A lot of trivial things bring me momentary happiness but, few bring me a sense of untouchable JOY… A place where our unconditional nature flourishes. This is the place where we are accepting, loving and appreciating OURSELVES and the world around us, effortlessly. It’s the shit… and it’s also something we have to focus our attention on embracing.
My past thought process went a lil something’ like this… positivity & negativity are contagious. If I am down, there is little point in infecting others with such “stuff” that is mine. This belief grew from a notion that my stuff was “mine”, and yours was “yours”. But, I no longer see it so cut and dry. If we aren’t willing to reach out and share our experience in this maze, we may find ourselves (or others) reliving the same stinky road over and over again. And, no one heals any faster…
Extended periods of time in “Hibernation Mode” can perpetuate a limiting belief that we don’t need people. Coming to this truth can be productive in certain instances (working through dependency issues or on the topic of understanding detachment) but, in dealing with depression and the influences of the physical world… it’s not the only means for regaining balance.
We grow through and with other people. We learn from them, we set standards for living based on observation. We design our lives in accordance to what suits us by witnessing, and being inspired by, other people who have been willing to sacrifice norms for true happiness. This has been the goal of many great thinkers, musicians and artists. From the beginning of time, people have shared their insight and it is in our best interest to take advantage of the tools they offer. In considering what other people have gone through, we gain resources ( beyond our wildest imaginations) to pull from… that are pertinent to things all humans face. If none of those courageous people ever got vulnerable enough to share just how fucked up they really were (at times)… the rest of us would be none the wiser or thoughtful. And, what a damn shame that would be!
Emotionally Paralyzing States of Revelation:
When I’m not feeling connected to my “happy place” I tend to draw upon guidance from all ends of the spectrum. I immerse myself in the dark, dynamic, sensory experience that music, art and literature lend. I also find it helpful to delve into uplifting philosophical & spiritual avenues to direct attention. Oh and… occasionally overly dramatized television shows. Let it be known, many of these shows make me throw up in my mouth a lil but, at other times they offer alluring ideas that dance around my mind. Last night, a doctor asked a recently paralyzed patient: Do you know who you are? Do you know what you’ve been through? and Do you want this for your life? His answer would determine whether or not he would live (on life support) or not and, it got me thinking. I thought about how the answers to those questions (in relation to our individual lives) may suggest how dependent we have become on the external world to act as our “life support”. Or, how effective we have been in supporting ourselves through trying times… with resilience and a “bigger picture” perspective.
I believe that we find ourselves in emotionally paralyzing states for damn good reason! These are transitions in our lives whereabouts we have the option to sink deeper into numbness or actively start the swim back up to the surface… to our feeling selves. Both can be draining (in different ways) but, only one has the potential to bring us closer to our authentic selves. The choice is (and always will be) ours. So, I sat down and I asked myself exactly what that doctor had asked. I soaked up what those questions meant to me and what my answers actually reflected about how I saw myself and my life. And, it was heart opening. Three simple questions with fully loaded answers…
Do you know who you are?
Do you know what you’ve been through?
Do you want this for your life?
The Human Rubik’s Cube:
We all know that when it is imperative to be tender, compassionate and forgiving with ourselves… it is usually the most difficult. When we need it most, we generally know what we need to do and yet, we pull away from that very “good stuff”. When we are grasping for battery life, it is often hard to simply do those productive, creative, freeing things we know will LIFT us… We are thrown into a tumultuous love affair with all of our halves and somewhere, we love it!
We love the challenge of deciphering our internal Rubik’s cube, however frustrating and however repetitive. We do it over and over again. Many times we try and many times we get the same heart numbing results. But, at some point we are bound to feel “the shift”. It can be a simple change in the way we see or approach the cube or quite possibly the shift occurs when we set the cube down for long periods of time and forget all about it. Whatever the case may be, at any given time, it usually facilitates in the “snapping” out of where ever the hell we have gone and back into a place of awareness and momentum. And, that is stuff we all need…
Expanding our Point of View:
What it really boils down to is our quest for limitlessness. We are often solely responsible for limiting ourselves so much that one day we find ourselves choked up, suffocated and gasping… for air. We have epiphanies, our lives are turned upside down or we simply hit a roadblock. And then, a sense of urgency ensues (like a caged tiger) and we are eager to get in touch with our infinite nature. We want it now!
And, so often we don’t get it “right now” because that’s not the way it works. That would be way too fucking easy, anyways. We focus on the gold but, we negate appreciating the presence (or absence) of the rainbow… both of which are essential to absorbing the gravity of either chosen scenario. We are the culprits. For as much as we claim to want clarity, there must be a part of us that craves the confusion because, so many of us deny our intuitions and simply prevent the clearness from manifesting. Perhaps the whole point of us being here is to hit those roadblocks, reinvest ourselves down various paths, fine tune our instruments and finally learn to express authentically who we are (or at least that’s what this girl is choosing to tell herself).
Thanks AL! :
I find that when I’m going through an extended period of depression, I am predominately in a “thinking” space and not a heart-centered place. I use thoughts as a vessel for staying in that depression, longer than (probably) necessary. And, it takes all of my will to get out of there and some days I am not so successful. It requires almost all of my energy to stay present, focused on blessings and aligned with proper perspective. When my wandering mind has lead me astray, it is a daily job to remember my purpose and that is on a good day. On the shittier of days, I try to divert focus from the variables of that experience and onto the principle of that experience. It usually nudges me out of an overwhelmingly emotional take on the matter and towards more solid truths…
So goes the saying… “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”… I believe this because I have experienced it over and over in my life and, I am open to it. Sometimes a few short words come to us, on a day when we need them most… like this expression from Einstein:
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift”
Every chapter we face should have a thoughtful heading… if for no other reason then to make some light of our seriousness. I do this a lot when I’m going through particularly challenging times, I title them. So, I have deemed this quote from Einstein the chapter heading for my current bout with depression. This kind of ridiculous shit helps me remember that this is just one single part in a large volume of lessons I am accumulating. It’s a tool and for fucks sake, every productive phase in our evolution deserves its own damn chapter. I always remind myself to freely giggle at my own absurdity. It helps me grasp the not-so-tragic “tragedies” we perpetuate, with our “rational” minds.
“Staying here, Right now”:
So, what have I gained by embracing the darkness? Well, I often find that when I think I am experiencing a low… my creative self feels harnessed in some mysteriously enchanting way. I read more, I learn more and I write a shit ton. Because, I am trying to figure myself out more.
I express in new creative ways as I search for deeper truths and richer ways to flourish. Whatever traumatic experience triggered my depression… it has shown me new things about being human. And, with that… I am curious to explore all the dimensions of existing. I actively seek out “doing” in different ways in hopes that I may be able to coerce repressed feelings into the light and magnify the real issues being confronted. In the span of my most recent days, I find that my “doing” has become a lot more premeditated. I am more conscious of what it is I am doing because, there is a silent force driving my waking hours. I’ll call it an incentive to stay focused on the gift of life, by embracing the NOW. It is organically propelled by motivation to maintain my health and sanity (for myself and the world around me).
Affirming Life, “Creating Magic”
and Releasing Ego:
On the subject of living, someone I know once said: “I want to create Magic”. These 5 words struck a chord and not in the Copperfield/Blaine kind of way. What is this magic that is spoken of? Well, to me it is about redefining our own ideas of potential and devoting our lives to finding out how much of “it” is within us. It is about tapping into our unknown sense of self by daring, striving, seeing and solidifying a place here with full expression. It is about feeling lonely and still knowing your worth. It is about understanding the magnitude of being alive and accepting the challenges of doing it without the fear of regret. Most importantly… it is about taking responsibility for the life you are choosing to live. It is about deciding to be happy, accepting sadness and figuring out how to detach from the shallowness of both thoughts.
It is about knowing, no matter what, you will be you (before and after your best or worst case scenario). What’s really the worst that could happen? Death? Life can be rough. I would say more people are more afraid of not living than they are of dying. It’s just harder to acknowledge that fear because, it is staring us straight in the face every single day. And, we are responsible for every bit of life we live or don’t live…
The physical world is full of vivid mirrors. Some are beautiful, some are filled with dis-ease. Our interaction with outside forces can act as tools in helping us mold our own experience here, abundantly. There is so much value in being inspired. When we come into contact with those rare people who seem to have something intuitively “flowing” in their lives… it is our job to, instead of egocentrically nurturing jealousy, find healthy use of that mirror. People who have figured out a formula for flourishing both internally and externally and are directing themselves in meaningful ways can act as fuel to ignite our own inner selves if we can get around our own ego.
Transcendental VS. Coincidental
Encounters/Note to Self:
Dear Self, It is important to risk your own deluded sense of security at the expense of getting closer to other people. Do not grow too comfy in your isolation. It is OK to swish around the taste of dissatisfaction when things haven’t gone “your way” or when you’ve felt hurt by getting close to other human beings… for a short period of time. Reflection is beneficial. But, don’t get overly absorbed in the risk factors. They have already drawn you inward, now move forward.
Life is about risk. Risk what you don’t know for what you want to know and feel. You can benefit from everyone whether they are momentary guides or lifelong mentors. The people you become willing to know and willing to love are the ones that will provide you with glimpses towards self healing. Start with yourself and then say YES to other people !
We come into contact with certain kinds of people at important times, when we most need that kind of interaction. Sometimes those interactions can be transcendental if we welcome that kind of experience. I tend to see great significance in these moments. Just thinking about all of the things that need to align in order for two people to meet… the chances that there are things much larger working (potentially cosmic) to bring those two specific people together, is fascinating. In fact, it’s fucking awesome! It is not relevant why you think you meet someone because, there could be totally different intent behind the encounter… something you’ll not get until much later on in life. And, that’s kind of the point. If you are able to look at the encounter and appreciate the sheer fact that you were brought together, be it for one night (strangers), many years (romantic) or a lifetime (family)… it’s all pretty incredible. And, certainly if we seek to see ourselves in a much clearer way we can learn to embrace these kismet meetings… and find the “take home lesson” in everything.
It’s kind of like Magic. Some people are gonna get it, they are gonna get the thrill. They will stand witness to the slight of hand and yet, they will embrace the AWE with eyes wide open. I wanna be that kind of person… I want to understand completely and fully that all is not what it seems and I want to know that kind of unexplainable magic. Primarily in myself. I don’t know all of what that means yet but, I’m gonna spend my lifetime trying to figure out what the hell I mean by that and when I do, maybe I’ll write a blog post about it 😉
Feeding the Beast:
We often find opportune ways to expand on our depression or (as I refer to it) “Feed the Beast” by becoming overly self critical. There is great potential for self damage when we become overly analytical about “how” or “why” we have found ourselves depleted of loving energy. Because, the truth is… we can’t simultaneously be loving and hating ourselves (just in the same way we cannot be happy and depressed all at the same time). It is all fleeting and perhaps, that is the most glorious truth! It’s all momentary… it just depends on which one we are giving focus to at any given time. And, sometimes… it’s ok to say “I am not feeling great but, I am learning a shit ton from this!” and then invite the next feeling, as it comes…
The Human Chameleon:
One of the great advantages in being a Chameleon is an innate ability to adapt to environment. Some of us humans are like this… we don’t reside in a fixed place on the spectrum. Some would call it a blessing and some, a curse. We shift depending on the company, day, mood and minute even! We are sometimes very social creatures, relishing in the aesthetic pleasures of life. And, then in the blink of an eye… we are camouflaging ourselves and basking in the awesomeness of our solidarity (but, they usually do not go hand in hand). These two extremes can be so intense to take on that they make “balancing” a far fetched destination. We can wear the perfect disguise. In fact, we can wear whatever hat you want us to wear… It’s our forte!
These intricate creatures can spend a lifetime simply trying to figure out if they even want to “fit in” because, for a large part of their existence they are susceptible to adapt to the world as others see fit. So goes the journey of all human chameleons… to harness this great asset in the most productive of ways, for all involved. Many of us are just unwilling to RSVP to the open invitations on the table because we have a deep sense of what both sides encompass. We live in fluctuation. We taste the bitter sweet symphony of connection (and isolation) and neither draw us nearer…
Perhaps the objective is to grasp that it’s OK to adapt, so long as your adaptation is not hindering your own very personal journey. There may be a unique way to express yourself instead of spending a lifetime deciding whether or not to “fit in” because… that can be a very painful waste of energy. Maybe it’s simply about realizing that throwing your own damn party (instead of just showing up to another one) ain’t such a bad idea! Because, there’s a chance… “You can have your cake and eat it too”! That is a great saying I wish more adults believed and more kids heard. The Chameleon in me is just now starting to adhere to this philosophy…
Grit & Joy:
We have to get through the grit if we are ever going to soften up and welcome this place of “Joy” into our everyday experience. Because, this place is filled with all the room we could ever need for unfathomable self expansion /expression. This is the “real shit” that all humans seek to get to knowing… where potential becomes palpable. We can’t possibly understand our capacity until we push ourselves! The chances are we will survive and find ourselves in a new way, in a new place and with a clearer understanding of what the hell we are doing here.
One advantage I find in darkness, that I also find in the stillness of meditation, is the feeling of being tiny… I get this when I stand beside the ocean. There is a difference in how I perceive my smallness though because, when I am tinkering with depressive thoughts, I turn this “feeling small” thing into “being invisible”. When I am recovering from depression (or I actively go to this place through meditation) I find that it, in turn, gives me the courage to accept my own big-ness/creation/greatness. Sometimes two very different roads can lead to one big fucking eye opening realization…
There is a quote, I have posted beside my bed, by Emily Dickinson. It is the first thing I wake up and read every morning… “The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” This serves as a daily reminder of what I am attempting to do here. It reminds me that wherever my thoughts may take me (be them filled with darkness or lightness) it is likely to be a new-kind of experience, strewn with the potential of an ecstatic expression of my life. If on any given day I fail in welcoming that ecstatic experience… tomorrow I will wake up (if I’m lucky) , read it again, try to grasp its importance and give it another go…
Marrying an “Idea”(and acknowledging it):
We marry ourselves in different ways, at different stages of our lives. We join in union with ideas of who we are, what we are here to express and how we are going to do that. We sign contracts with ourselves and we get fixated on ideas of who we are or who other people think we are and take on these roles without question. The absurdity is that half the questions us humans SHOULD be asking ourselves aren’t being asked because we are too busy fornicating with the ideas other people have for us.
Are we who we want to be and are we doing what it is we think we are meant to be doing?
Each of us has pressing questions about the direction of our future. These questions present themselves repeatedly to help keep us on our own track and we get very caught up in finding their answers. The answer is in the journey…. it’s a process of being receptive. It ain’t a drive-thru. The point is to keep asking the questions, over and over again (daily) because, the answers change. They ground us in our present goals and inevitably establish whether or not we are willing to be bound to this idea of who we are any longer or if a change of plan is in order. We determine the answer, by how we commit to ourselves and, in turn, we determine the path. For me, the monumental question of my life is will I decide to be an advocate for my passions or will I fight against them? The outcome is something I decide every single day. Some days I am defending and some days I am just trying to remember them. The thing about being depressed is, it forces me to ask this question more regularly and that is a blessing.
Getting Out Of Your Own Way:
A hurdle I face when I am at a low, is getting over myself and out of my own way. It consists of remembering to stop trying to figure things out and, instead, start appreciating… every little thing. The more dramatic the creature, the more we sniff out ways for further self implosion (and the longer the period of anxiety will likely resume). So, what to do? Find ways to continue living as joyfully as possible… even if we have to start by faking it before we can remember what that actually feels like again. The shortest periods in a long day when we actively do things that we know once gave us a sense of happiness… will eventually manifest themselves again, without force and with honesty.
Do we take the bait or do we wait? Sometimes the most powerful lessons to learn are in times when we are forced to redefine ourselves. This usually comes from a realization that we aren’t feeling adequate space to properly express and we acknowledge that we feel bottled up… those moments when we feel a deep yearning for something we can’t quite put our finger on. But, we sure as hell know we aren’t currently experiencing it. Sometimes it happens when we come very close to something. We can taste it and yet, for reasons unknown, it doesn’t manifest in our lives fully… and… we are left feeling hungry. These serve as opportunities to reveal ramifications of choices we’ve made. More importantly, they help us distinguish more desirable pursuits. They can assist in clarifying what it is we actually want. And, there is a lot of power in defining what it is we Want. When forced to analyze how we are living, what we are doing with our energy here and who we essentially are… lots of shit can happen. Sometimes, our fears find their way back into a cozy little hiding spot but, don’t worry… this is only temporary! Because, this shit will come back to be discussed again. And, again. And, again… until we fucking pursue it, relentlessly. And, once we do… it will serve to expand our experience of freedom, on all levels.
So, do we go for the quick fixes to regain a temporary sense of happiness or do we sit, patiently on our egg and let it mature properly… for a more desirable “hatching”? Experience and observation lead me to believe that the option so few of us willingly choose may be the wisest. TO DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, WAIT IT OUT and LET IT BE. Maybe there is benefit in allowing ourselves to feel those hunger pains, to sit with what it means to feel “deprived” of something we know is vital to our thriving and allow ourselves to feel “starved”. Perhaps waiting out those feelings, instead of devouring anything on a seemingly appetizing platter, will enable us to grow the most. It could even bring us closer, faster, to the very thing we so seek to express. But, waiting it out… that definitely takes some sacrifice and a willingness to let go of supposed control. We must be willing to surrender all that we think we know and all that we think we “should” be doing… if we are ever going to welcome new ways of thinking and being.
Divorcing an “Idea” (and being ok with it):
Just as we are forced over and over again to marry different beliefs about ourselves, we are forced to divorce them. And, I only think we really learn how to do this gracefully when we can accept that everything in our life is simply an “idea”. We have ideas about the way we think things should be. We think we know what’s best for us or for another person but, sometimes we are twisted by our own ideas. Sometimes “ideas” merge beautifully and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they just don’t sync up and so, in these times, we are catapulted into unknown waters… where we are forced to throw out an idea we’ve grown to love and replace it with something we just can’t visualize… yet!
The dissolution of an idea can give life to a new one. I believe that it is in the path leading up to the resurrection of a “new idea” that us humans, find ourselves in these dark places. We are melding what we thought we wanted, with reality. We are trying to “make sense” of how we feel, of where we thought we would be (by now) and where we need to go from here. We are, in a sense, redesigning our selves, ideas, days and hours. In essence, we are shifting our stance and getting ready to run another long marathon…
Staying the course or Jumping Ship:
I am firm believer that all people are artists whether they pursue it or not in this lifetime.
With that said, I believe an inevitability all self proclaimed artists face is the question of staying the course or jumping ship? Do I have the stamina (courage) and strength to continue on this elaborate journey of self discovery or, do I surrender myself strictly to this physical world? Will I sacrifice my creative self at the expense of fleeting security and a supposed sense of “normalcy”? Do I believe enough in myself to continue finding ways to pursue my creative self? Because as many people know, creativity is something of a spiritual matter… blind faith if you will. A knowing that something, unseen, is within and wanting to be nourished. And, for the most part it isn’t always being properly articulated or expressed in our everyday lives but, it’s there. And, we can feel it. But, do we dare feed it?
Unlike many of my fellow “thirty-something-year-olds” I don’t feel a pressing obligation to get married or have babies. My internal clock is ticking in reverse. I seem to be innately preoccupied with remembering my inner child. I put emphasis on personal growth and when I get the sense that some factor of my-self may be stifled by choosing to take a certain step in life… I withdraw. And, with a vengeance. I have an extremist mentality… I go hard or I go home, to be alone… with myself. While many people are venturing into matrimony or motherhood, with enthusiasm, I am disillusioned by it all… because, these things don’t feel congruent to my overall sense of purpose. I am good with children and I am a good lover. But, that doesn’t mean I need to be a mother or a wife. In fact, because of the very nature of my current transitionary state, I am solidified in a belief that I am just now getting to the heart of learning how to be a human being. And, a part of that is prioritizing and defining what I am willing to put energy into while I am here. And, for however selfish this may sound… I am willing to pour it all into ME! Because, at this precise moment in time… I would be cheating myself out of the greatest gift I could ever give humanity… a better me.
An Authentic Relationship with Autonomy:
The truth is that when our lives seem the tidiest (when things are orderly, comfy, secure, and seemingly “happy”) we aren’t always striving… for more. We aren’t always locating the deepest parts of ourselves. And, that isn’t always healthy. Which leads me to my next question of the day… do we recognize the validity in being nobodies anything? Huh? did she just say “nobodies anything?” Yea, I did.
It has occurred to me, most recently, that we cling firmly to labels. And, these labels may be securely keeping us from reaching our fullest potential. We get transfixed in being other peoples “people” (the wife, the husband, the mother, the father, the son or daughter, the girlfriend or boyfriend, the best friend, the enemy, the lover, the auntie, the optimist) the this and the that… we take on all these roles without question, day in and day out. But, are they serving us? And, sometimes I don’t think they are… we just continue taking them on because we are scared to imagine what it would be like if we weren’t needed by “someone”. The truth is… we ARE needed, in a big way… by ourselves. We need to pay attention to ourselves, we need to nurture, love and tend to what is going on inside of us. And, yet… we are often too fucking busy living up to external expectations that we don’t do the very essential internal work.
Claiming autonomy can be a very important step in the process of fortifying individualism. It can serve as a vessel for self exploration, discovery and enlightenment. All we have to do is appreciate what it means to just be ourselves, without the support of those around us. How does it genuinely make us feel to be alone? Is it scary? Does it feel right? We just can’t know until we risk going there… and I have sneaking suspicion that most people don’t choose to go there. It is something that comes to them… like depression… a gift in disguise.
YOU are your best investment:
I feel strongly that if more people invested in themselves, took care with how they lived and were determined to “do” that which they are passionate about… the world would be a more positive experience (for everyone).
Some of the people I admire most are supposed “lone wolves”. They wander with sheer intent to know themselves in a truer way. They are predominantly focused on really living life (and sometimes to an isolating fault). But, many of them are choosing to ride this ride solo because, being true to yourself can be a full time job. There are parts of this lone wolf lifestyle I admire and parts that don’t quite sync up for me personally. I do not believe that every artist needs to be a struggling one… all the time. Deep down I feel there is more than enough, of everything, for everyone. Space- to be creative, to love, to be loved and lots and lots of room to grow… if those are our intentions.
Waves of Thriving and Reviving:
The ability to recognize where there is a need for more or less energy to be given to any part of our life, is the ultimate illustration of how much we are learning to listen to ourselves. It shows us how we’ve matured and/or what we need to work on. Whether we believe it or not… certain aspects of our lives thrive and at other times, they need to be revived. Whatever the case may be the important stuff usually goes hand in hand, in abundance. We can’t go on feeding one thing without the other because, eventually it will be felt. And, so the primary “idea” is to start understanding the necessity in investing ourselves equally. The totality of the things we are doing in our life become the sum of our life experience (or better yet, what becomes of our “purpose” here)… For better or worse. So, we should take great care in how we choose to conduct ourselves, in or out of states of fluctuating happiness.
When we are depressed we often play the same record over and over again in our heads, it is like white noise everywhere. This static creates chaos and it gets louder when we feel the slightest bit of enjoyment because, it aims to keep us in a depressed state. It convinces us that we can’t be enjoying ourselves because, we are depressed. This tune reverberates in our being for days, weeks and sometimes months… creeping up whenever any source of pleasure blooms. This mind numbing white noise will ensue until we find ways to mute it… “Shhhh Shhhh… quiet down now, I may just choose to enjoy myself right now and step away from “being depressed” momentarily”
The most important dialogue we have is with ourselves. It determines where our minds will be lead next and our reality is a reflection of what we feed our mind. How much of it are we allowing to be consumed by the chaotic undertones of disaster ? Are we masterminds in manipulating darkness into this cruel place or are we learning to master the art of feeling the light through this darkness? Change the record, the channel, the station when need be … Here’s a short list of things that help me tune in and drop out of the depressive mind set…
1. Go for walk… you need the fresh air! You need to move your body… Get up, Now!
2. Read a fucking book… there are great ones out there, written by great people who have a lot of great things to say. And, many that help clarify a lot of stuff for a lot of people, you’re not special…
3. Journal, there are a lot of things you are likely not expressing… a lot of which can help you resurrect your positive nature.
4. Go do something fun and creative! Get your mind out of your head… and into something else! Don’t know what? Well, your answer is… ANYTHING!
5. And, if all else fails… just smile at your depression because it is just a “thing” you are going through right now and it will pass… sure as the litter box will need to be cleaned in a week!
Depression is not a Trump Card:
It is not the end all be all. Yes, some of us are more prone to revisiting depression time and time again…. but, that only gives us more chances to get better at it!!! I realize that people go through varying degrees of depression, I am not discrediting the severity for which some people face depression. I am simply encouraging that we start seeing sadness as a bridge to greatness instead of a monument to more sorrow. This way we can approach it with different eyes and hearts. We were designed with all of the tools we could ever need to experience the full spectrum of joy and sorrow… that’s the greatness of our human condition. It is when we deny ourselves these experiences that we run into blockages. We must start recognizing this and taking measures to appreciate the experiences we are having- be them “good” or “not so good”.
Eat, Sleep, Pee, Create… Repeat:
Some days just being human is gonna feel like a chore or an all day affair. You know those days… when it feels like you’re moving through quicksand just to do the tiniest of things. Those days aren’t wasted though! They are actually productive in their twisted ways because they can help to ground us in the minute details. We all have them! So, I try to embrace them with as much lightheartedness as possible because, I know this is all a transitory state of being… it isn’t all that I am and it will likely pass. Or at least (on productive days) that’s where my mind takes me… with fingers crossed.
Us “List Makers” often make loads of lists every day… filled with things we 1. Want 2. Need or 3. Should try and accomplish. This happens to be a very a productive tool I utilize in my own life. And, as a college student I found note taking my best friend. I am a visual learner… when i see it, i absorb it much clearer. So, it only made sense for me to start doing this in my everyday life as a way to gain perspective and direction. I find it’s just as important to make long lists as it is short lists. And, these long lists can become something of value.They can serve as reminders on the more “important things” we are striving to experience and they can help steer us closer to feeling their manifestation. I know all of this and yet, for weeks I refused to sit down with a pen and paper because, well… I was too busy being “depressed”. But, finally I did it! I sat down with the long (unending) list that’s been dancing in my head and this is what it looked like…
TO DO / What this requires:
Share Feelings on Depression /Sit down with my thoughts and simply type.
Restore my creative self/ Pay attention to detail.
Address unaddressed emotions/ Meditation and Writing.
Remember what happy feels like / A smile!
Appreciate Autonomy/ Acknowledging a deeper sense of self.
Love and Define Myself (on my own terms)/Focused Energy and Persistence.
Meaningful work/ Determination and Courage.
Love others unconditionally /Compassion, Flexibility and Understanding.
Be conscious of how I am living / Willingness and Truth.
Leave a (lasting) legacy/Good Will and Good Intentions.
Share myself with others (authentically)/ Trust, Vulnerability and Effort.
Enjoy!/ Embracing Pleasure and Letting Go!
Breathe Deeper/ Practice and Intention.
Nurture myself back to health/ Acceptance and love.
The Tender Licking of Wounds:
It shows a lot about our character when we willingly acknowledge “I am going through a rough patch right now, I need to be gentle and kind with myself if I am to understand this space“.
One of the most important things we can learn is how to deal with our internal frailties. They are sensitive creatures that need to be delicately (and consistently) acknowledged. They deserve as much attention as anything and sometimes, they require more! But, not so much that we become preoccupied in sufficing their callings. We have chances to grow through whatever hurdles we face, if we are willing to confront why we are where we are in the first place.
If we are willing to get to the heart of the matter instead of brushing it to the side we, no doubt, will be sturdier people. Some days we need to sit with the darkness to find out, it’s not that scary and on other days… the best we can do is laugh it all up! Laugh off whatever nonsense our mind has us engrossed in, get ourselves out of the cloudiness, go be in nature and move… somewhere… anywhere! Because however it goes from this day forward… it’s gonna go. So, we can bow our heads in acceptance of the next opportunity to do it better, to be healthier, to recognize all that we have and all that we can be…. and say thank you, to every single experience.
Getting un-stuck :
As Julia Cameron beautifully puts it: “Leap and the net will appear”.
Stop asking so many trivial questions, Start asking different ones! Embrace routine, find new (and healthy) ones too! Keep thinking, but not too much! Take strides to get un-stuck in whatever stickiness you find yourself basking in… Be active and then sit in silence and do absolutely nothing… give yourself a break! The best answers always come when we listen. Once you’ve quieted the emotions (the happy, the sad, the mind, the thoughts and the physical world) find affirmations that help you remember what being healthy feels like and move towards that little by little every single day. When you feel strong enough step back out into the world and…
“Ask not what you want from Life, Ask what Life wants from you!
Then just observe in amazement as your path unfolds…”
And for the sheer fact of being alive…
2 thoughts on “The Bitch of Living: Befriending Depression in 10,000 words.”
You are fucking awesome! Who ever you are! Cheers!