Depression tastes like February. It’s cold and bleak.
When the fog descends it feels as though the mist of despair has settled in for the long haul. It’s hard to imagine that spring is near. It’s a numbness tinged with nothingness and it sweeps hope and joy away like a breeze taking lost leaves from an endless path.
To know depression is to see the world through a filter that affords a view of life on the other side but acts as a barrier for any incoming light. It’s watching TV with no sound. Mute and hollow.
It’s a state of subdued spirit and deadened emotions. And if you’ve ever known the disconnected, distant land of which I speak then there’s a good chance that you will, at some point, know it once more.
Depression doesn’t tend to be a one time visitor. It brazenly ignores the sign on the door saying it’s not welcome. It doesn’t even do the courtesy of ringing the bell, just comes along and invites itself in and settles down in the good chair, coffee in hand. And there’s not a motivational meme in existence that can get its ass to shift out of your living room. It leaves when it wants to.
But we’re not supposed to be depressed, right? After all, we’re doing all the right things. We’re practicing yoga and we’re saying our affirmations and we’ve stepped away from the soda to drink the wheatgrass shots and oh my goodness what is actually wrong with us and why can’t we just be happy?
Brutal answer: Because we’re not characters living in Disneyland.
Life can be utterly amazing sometimes. Some days I feel as though my feet are skimming the clouds and I’m flying through New York City with possibility at every avenue. But some days I wake with a sadness so heart wrenching that it pierces the core of me. I’m weighed down by its all consuming bleakness.
On those days my heart literally feels flooded with despair. It seeps into every part of me. Every word I utter is weighted. Every action dulled.
Darkness is a part of me. And I’ve reached a peace with it.
My path to empowerment has taught me (and is still teaching me) that not only is it ok to have different states of mind, it’s actually essential. Denying a part of who I am means turning my back on myself. And I won’t do that.
If you buy furniture that requires home assembly and you realise that a piece is missing, what’s going to happen? Chances are that you’ll have a wonky wardrobe or a three legged table. It’s not going to be the product it’s meant to be because all the pieces are necessary. They all play a part.
We don’t need to leave out pieces of who we are. We need all of our parts to tell our whole story. We don’t have to hide our darkness any more than we have to dim our light.
By the same token if we do piece together all of our parts and find that we’re not perfect it doesn’t matter in the slightest. Perfection is an illusion that really doesn’t warrant the endless effort and energy we spend trying to achieve it.
We don’t have to fix everything. We don’t have to present ourselves as anything other than who we actually are. Sometimes that means just sitting with the numbness. Observing what is, for what it actually, truly is, might be the closest we come to making sense of our life experience.
We are mosaics made up of smashed beauty. Fragmented yet whole. And somewhere amongst the smithereens, amidst the glorious mess and chaos, in between the darkness and demons and light and love, we find the parts of ourself that we thought we’d lost. The parts that we thought wouldn’t make it. And yet there they are, surviving anyway. Thrown from the nest yet flourishing regardless.
I was once messaged by someone who said she couldn’t believe that the person who wrote articles on empowerment and fierceness was the same woman who wrote about depression. She couldn’t seem to equate the two together. And yet both these sides (and many more) are very much part of my make up. Sometimes I burn brightly and sometimes I burn low. Sometimes I’m the flame. Sometimes I’m the charred ash.
When I’m feeling on top of the world I let myself feel it. Really feel it. I let the feelings of elation and invincibility wash over me. I don’t tell myself that I should feel differently. I don’t try and talk myself down from my happiness. I embrace it.
There are moments when I look up to a deep blue sky and see a flock of birds in flight and I’m lost in wonder and gratitude.
There are moments when I feel frustrated or I’m hurting hard and I want the storm inside me to rage until it’s spent. Until the calm claims its corner once more.
And there are moments when I’m wounded or raw and the darkness threatens to seep into my mouth and flood my lungs. Just as with elated happiness and stormy rage, I’m learning to sit with that feeling. Not move it or change it or ask it to be any different. Just accept it as is. That’s how I handle depression.
I’m always a breath away from pain. But I’m always a breath away from beauty.
I am blemished and tarnished and torn.
And I am shiny and new and unopened.
Everything is interwoven and interchangeable.
I do not need to be fixed and neither do you. We’re all a little bit broken. It’s ok.
I’m not saying we need to invite the demons to move in permanently. But we don’t have to try and barricade ourselves away from them, either. If they turn up then so be it. Don’t bolt the door. But be sure to claim the good chair first. They’ll have to sit on the lumpy seat with the broken springs.
When we try to suppress the parts of us that we think are less than worthy, they don’t just disappear. They remain deep within us, fretting and festering. They become toxic and ever more consuming. So, let them breathe. Throw some light on them. It’s the bright surprise they won’t be expecting.
Also published by Positively Positive