I never understood what depression was. I didn’t understand how one allowed oneself to get there and why they couldn’t just pull themselves out of it. I had a lot of judgment surrounding it and therefore was blocked from really seeing it for what it is.
Depression is anger turned inwards ~ Sigmund Freud
And then there I was… depressed. I didn’t realize it at first. By nature, I can be very reclusive and enjoy being on my own, but this was different. Way different. It hit one summer several years ago.
It was a year of changes, relationship, career, and long term goals…I was also consumed with self-discovery, delving into the deepest recesses and darkest corners of my psyche. I am a fairly balanced and ‘git r done’ kind of woman, but that summer I seemed to be at a standstill. Reflecting back on it now it was as if I was in a void.
I dealt with it the only way I knew how… go it alone and forge through the darkness, somewhere I had faith that “this too shall pass’.
In hindsight I can say after my solo journey, that solo is not the only way to fly, sometimes a good co-pilot is required.
When I realized I was depressed, in actuality, was weeks after I fell into it. When it finally dawned on me that something was amiss, I was already in the pit.
It felt as if I could barely move. My limbs felt heavy as did my soul.
For days I would not leave my property. It took every ounce of will power to feed my animals. Dishes which were normally washed and put away stayed piled in the sink. Basic tasks like making the bed seemed daunting.
I screened my calls, and so as not to alarm anyone I made a modicum of contact. When I ventured out, my sunglasses were dark and my hat was pulled low on my head, hoping to be invisible to the world.
Although I avoided seeing friends or family feigning being too busy, on occasion I would acquiesce and meet up. Putting on a happy face, no one knew what was really going on within my world.
If someone asked if everything was alright, if I didn’t answer with “yes, everything is fine”, and happened to say, “I was feeling depressed”, the response was, “Why? What are you depressed about?” or “Why would you be depressed with everything you have going on?”
Putting on a happy face was easier than the backlash of explanation. I could finish up as quickly as possible and return to the solace and safety of my home.
“It’s so difficult to describe depression to someone who’s never been there, because it’s not sadness.” ~ J.K Rowling
It was not until after I passed through the darkness did I understand. Depression is real. I can only share a morsel of how I navigated it.
In the scheme of things I was minorly affected, there are others that live with it chronically. Regardless of the duration, I understood how it could consume one.
I was able to teeter on the brink, dipping a toe in, testing the waters without falling completely into the abyss. Others are not as fortunate.
Some would say I was not in a depression, I might have just been out of sorts. Well yes, I was out of sorts, I was depressed. There may be some truth, I was depressed and not in a depression. My nature is not depressive. And I was not diagnosed. I do know, if not by sheer determination fighting it tooth and nail, it would have gotten the best of me.
I did two things that were my saving grace that summer.
I wrote poetry and I hiked with my dogs.
Without man’s best friend, I would not have stepped into the fresh air getting my endorphins moving. My dogs once again proved to be a life raft for my soul.
At night, I would often stay up into the wee hours, writing or doing nothing but staring into my darkroom or out the window into the darkness. During the quiet of the night, surrounded by the cloud that engulfed me, my deepest feelings would be felt.
Sometimes I would cry. And cry and cry.
I never cried as I did that summer.
It was as if all of the sadness and hurt I had ever experienced in my life was asking to escape.
So I howled out my pain, with my dogs curled up next to me. One would lick my face as the sobbing subsided and then curl up again when another wave hit. Exploring my inner workings allowed me to wallow in my feelings. Then hiking and writing gave them an exit door.
When things came crashing down, I didn’t understand as deeply as I do now about The Let Go.
There are thoughts that depression is anger turned inwards and upon hearing that, my first reaction was, “No way, not me… I’m not angry”. However, as I looked deeper I started to see the truth in it. I was angry. I was angry in myself for not following my instincts, for allowing my expectations of how things ‘should have been’ to disappoint me. Hadn’t I learned that lesson already, no expectations, no disappointments?
My Let Go moments were many. Understanding why I was angry was a start. Letting Go of what my expectations had been and accepting what was, was far better. And a BIG Let Go was to be kinder to me.
I was always hardest on myself and I learned that sometimes the softest touch is the most powerful.
I am grateful for that summer of crying. It allowed me to understand something I had previously judged.
One of the gifts gained was empathy for those who live within the walls of depression.
Being depressed made a more compassionate me. I do not know if that darkness will revisit again but I will trust, this too shall pass. And sometimes… We simply need a break to just sit in the void and cry.