Walking on a narrow ridge.
Walking on a narrow ridge.

Depression used to slip over me like a cloak I didn’t know I was wearing until years had passed and something seismic would shift in the world. The first half of my life was a lot of depression punctuated by periods of very high functionality. Thankfully, these days the picture is reversed. These days, because it’s so different from my usual orientation, it speaks more bluntly.

“What is the fucking point of all this?” I asked myself yesterday, which surprised me — because the point of all this, obviously, is that life is a wonder.  I used to just live as though there was no point; that was assumed. I had to persuade myself to do things. Depression was never a mood, or a sadness, for me.  It was a block, an inability to act intentionally, on my own behalf, to access the potential of life.  That was my default orientation. I had to find a point to whatever I was doing. It was not grief. Grief is infinitely preferable to depression, at least to me, which is strange, because depression is often a result of my avoiding grief.

These days, I actually notice my indifference; there is a dialogue. This is an improvement from the past. Now I see depression as a message. Depression is a question.

What am I not feeling fully? And if there isn’t something I’m declining to feel fully, is there something I’m not expressing? Am I holding on to something? Those are my two nemeses, feeling and expression. What am I burying in myself by focusing on the lives of others, by sticking my head into work, by holing up in the house?

I know then that it’s time to walk, to take the dog, to get outside, because the answers are always there, always. Root it out, but gently; what is it? What’s blocking my access to life? Tears come, usually, and the heaviness moves from my mind to my chest, where it belongs, where it can pass away. I usually know why, somewhere down deep, though it’s a long way up to the surface. But at least it’s no longer lodged in unawareness, exhausting me.

I’m coming to realize that managing this way that I am is about balance — finding it, then maintaining it. Sometimes It’s a very narrow ridge-walk, and I fall off. And there I will dangle, until one day, I ask myself, in a fit of indifference: “What is the fucking point of all of this?”

Eureka. I’m dangling again. Time to climb back up.

I’ll keep getting better at it.

 

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9 thoughts on “Depression is a question.

  1. You are on to something here. Remember when I heard this “there is more right with you than wrong”. If you can take a breath. Breathe through emotions want to be felt. They must be felt. Feel them. And breathe these emotions want to be felt. If they break you they will strengthen. If you feel them and let it go. They weaken over time.

  2. Wow Jennifer, great writing and I am in absolute agreement. I have experienced a lot of grief in my life and depression is infinitely more difficult to deal with. . . even more so when you KNOW all the wonderful reasons to be alive but just can’t use them to pull you out of the pit. My mantra, “Let go, surrender and allow. . . I am safe.”

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