Depression: No Rules

I’ve continued to search my soul for an answer to my doubt and my unhappiness with sharing on social media, and this morning I posted another expression – this time of the place I find myself in as that original doubt and question evolves more into an answer. After I posted that train of thought, I received several messages from like minds and souls sharing their personal experiences and thoughts about it. 

One of the conversations (with a lady that has become a soul sister and close friend to me recently) led to someone asking me, “what do YOU want?” In the last year and a half, not a single soul has asked me that – and I was almost shocked to read it. I mean, I know a lot that this person is struggling with (including grief and chronic illness, similar to myself) and to be so aware of that and have them genuinely ask me, “what do YOU want?” both blew me away and grounded me a bit all at once. It’s been a long time since I felt that connected with anyone – at least with someone who had experiences of their own to truly grasp where I was. My truthful answer was, “I don’t know.”

Regarding life in general, that could be true for a very long time. But as far as here? At this blog AND on the actual Instablogs on Instagram I don’t know specifically what I want to do but I DO know that I want to continue to create and share – art/photography obviously, and my own thoughts, mostly – or, at the very least the much better expressed ideas of others about things that are affecting (or plaguing, as the case may be) my life.

Whether pretty and pleasing or dark and uncomfortable to take in, no matter the contradictions (because depression is good at those), I want to share it all – because that’s who I am, always have been, and always will be. I am best when I am open. I am best when I allow vulnerability and truth – no matter how it looks to anyone else. That’s how I cope, even though sometimes the pressure (self and otherwise) gets to be too much. I appreciate your support in that. I do, from the very bottom of my heart. 

That said, I don’t know what direction my posts (or my life, for that matter) are going to go in at this point. I don’t know where my heart is, especially in creating. It’s there, but I don’t know where. That’s why I started playing with some found footage from the farm tonight (which I can’t share here because my subscription doesn’t include video storage directly to the site and I don’t want to use YouTube). 

Anyway, I played around with editing and went with the flow…for a brief moment I found myself truly immersed and connected with my own being, and as I experienced that I asked myself why I had chosen that footage and felt so calm and creative about it. The answer? It felt safe. Safe is good right now. I play it VERY safe with EVERYTHING right now. And while it’s a necessity right now, I hate that. I HATE IT. Playing it safe destroys creativity and it erases the experience of adventures because adventures simply don’t exist. In this place, my wild woman is hidden away – and she’s the part of me I love the most. That’s another blog for another day…

I’m literally fumbling around and along in my life right now. Depression has taken hold, even as hard and as long as I have fought it off. But we all know, those of us who are touched by it, that it’s GOING to finally get to us. Maybe it varies each time it comes, depending on circumstance and current physiology and level of consciousness to it. Maybe it sneaks up behind you and gently, silently drapes its black cloak over your shoulders while you aren’t looking, taking you completely by surprise. Maybe it jumps on your back like a dog in heat as soon as it smells the scent of sadness or doubt. 

Or maybe, like me in this last year, you see it coming. You watch it closely and calculate all your moves as you observe and take notes of it’s strategy this go around. You try to bravely stare it down with all your might, daring yourself to stand firm and face it, truly believing that this time is going to be the time that you rise above it before it grabs hold. Yes. This time you’re going to make it – or dodge it, at least. But then, you don’t. You don’t make it or dodge it in time…because depression? Depression always wins that face off. 

So, now you just hold on with all your might as it slings you around and beats you into the floor, making a mess of every physical and emotional piece of you. Or maybe it’s very intimate and gentle with you, and it taunts you with promises of how much better things will be if you just give in to it and let it rape you, heart and soul. Or maybe it’s a silent and unpredictable demon for you, and you walk in fear of what it will do next. Me? All three, and a few more I can’t quite sort out with words yet. The point, though, is that you struggle. 

That’s where I am… 

Depression. Yes. That’s where I am…and you’re going to see it. I’m going to write it, and speak it, and create from it – whether that looks pretty and light or scary and dark. 

I’m not going to operate under the theory that not speaking it makes it not true. Depression doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t buy the affirmations; in reality it just hears lies and uses them against me. It may be different for you, and that’s ok. But that’s what happens for me. So I’m not going to pretend I’m ok, because it’s OK not to be OK. And I want YOU to remember that if you’re in a similar place. 

You’re not alone. I promise you. And pretending you’re OK when you’re not in order to leave an image of love and hope untarnished DOES NOT HELP HEAL DEPRESSION. In fact, that’s the only consistent “rule” I’ve encountered across the board of myself and others I meet who are counseling others, living with, or struggling with depression. People who do not understand actuality of or have never experienced depression in it’s deepest, rawest, soul-eating form will never be able to grasp this. But for those of you who have messaged me and said, “why do you always apologize when you don’t post positive stuff or don’t know what to post?” You do get it, and YOU ARE RIGHT. We must be true to ourselves. I thank you for that reminder. 

Depression is simply not pretty and it’s far too romanticized in our society today. It’s scary, and it’s messy, and it’s downright uncomfortable (and ugly some days). Some days, you could smear all the love and hope in the world over yourself and wrap yourself in all the most beautiful and positive quotes, and you’ll still be scared, messy, dark and ugly inside and to the core of yourself. And that’s OK – because that’s depression, and it’s a process; for some, a life long one. 

In discussing this with other depressed people, I heard a lot of them say, “but why DO you try to stay on the more positive side of things?” Well, in a general sense and even in lacking religious faith, I want (choose) to try to look on the bright side – even if it’s with sarcasm and dark humor. For me, I know that if I lose hope altogether, I will die. My depression WILL KILL ME. Of course I have my (regular, lately) moments of existential anxiety and darkness and cynicism and anger. But mostly, in my heart? I hope. I love. I want to see and to do good. 

So yes, I’m guilty of believing and sharing a lot of fru-fru stuff. I like the fact that I have found a sort of balance between gentleness and toughness in my self and self-expression, and that I can be honest enough with myself to embrace both sides of who I am.  But if that doesn’t work for you? That’s OK! Forget all the self help, new age, love and light mumbo jumbo if it doesn’t work for you! It doesn’t work for me every second of every day or even every day or week or month at this point in my life (although I know I’ll still be sharing from that place within me on the days when that side is winning). 

We are complex emotional creatures, even at our best. Adding depression into the mix of who we are complicates things greatly for most of us who are affected. It’s not a RULE that you need self-help or spirituality to cope, or else you’re a bad person. In fact, there is no set-in-stone list of rules that we can all follow that will work 100% of the time for all of us in the same way to help us to cope with and/or overcome depression. NONE. Not coping that way, or without religious beliefs, or even without a smile on your face, doesn’t mean that you aren’t still filled with love, hope, purpose and spirit. Just because you forget it doesn’t mean it’s not there – kind of like those dirty dishes from two days ago or the laundry you meant to fold last week. It’ll keep. 

It doesn’t make you a negative or unworthy person, and it doesn’t mean you aren’t making or going to make progress, to deal with depression in a way that others most often criticize and judge. It just means that you struggle with depression, and that’s a beast that only those who have battled it can understand. We must embrace ourselves and whatever we are feeling at least long enough to try to grasp WHY we might be feeling that way and whether it is helping us. At least, for me, that is the only way I can get through most days. 

The other part of that for me is absolutely the ability and the means to express myself, regardless of what that expression is on any given day or in any given moment. I encourage you to express yourself, too, if you can in some way do that, and I promise you that I will try my best to practice what I preach, post from my heart, always, and walk this often contradictory cliff’s edge with you. 

I love you. 

C. 

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