I’ve struggled with clinical depression my entire adult life. Yep, I’m one of the genuinely happiest and joyful people who happens to wrestle with the deep shadow of depression. I was officially diagnosed at 24 and I’ve been working with doctors and managing it since then. Around the time I was diagnosed I began my journey of self awareness. Therapy, books, personal development study, and spiritual study and practice. Shout out here to SARK – her colorful books seemed to, at that early age, give me permission to be both a total emotional mess, and colorful, and successful at the same time.
Here I am exactly 20 years later at 44, and in the middle of a depressive spell. And probably a bit of perimenapausal pms. Now that’s a sexy combo, eh?
For me, depression isn’t sadness. It’s more of a nothingness. It’s not black, or white. It’s not the glorious sunshine, or the cleansing rain. Its the thick and humid deep grey days. It is the lack of any desire. And, yet, I still have work to do, clients to nurture and support, dogs to care for, a household to run, and me to be.
A ME to BE.
That’s it. How do I be ME, when I don’t feel deliciously me? Maybe you have those days too. And so I want to share a few small things I do, and remember when these seasons or spells hit, that keep me going. Somehow, in these 20 years, I’ve managed to thrive in both life and work. Weaving the joy in with the shadow. Maybe I’m sharing this for you, but probably I’m sharing this for me. To help me remember who I be…and that it always works out.
This is the point in my writing, that head wants me to write some stupid cliche HOW TO STORY. Because the experts say to. Well, I tried three or four and deleted them, and my heart just says, share my story. No formula…just my heart. This is what I do these days. I can’t pretend to prescribe a practice for you. But I can’ share with you what helps me.
The one thing I know about my depression, is that it constantly comes and goes. Sure I have some seasons that feel more sunny (usually during and after a big life change)and I have seasons that feel longer and deeper in to the shadow. There is EBB and FLOW…and the flow always comes back.
I think this is the biggest soother of these times. That when I am specifically depressed, to remember the Universe’s loving general truths:
- The flow always comes back
- I am loved and held by the divine
- there is nothing to fix and I can just be me, even if I’m depressed
- like the spring flowers each season, I can be new again
- I am not my depression, depression is just a state, and states change
- I can ask Spirit for support
Though simple, these thoughts, soothe me. This morning, before writing to you here, I wrote in my journal. I asked my angels for help with my spirit. I asked them to help me find my joy again. I can ask the Divine to help me find my light and love and happiness and energy and vitality and joy.
Depression always has a gift for me. I used to fight these ebbs. They still annoy me, but I don’t fight them so much because I know that they have a gift for me. Often that gift is to slow me down. Depression reminds me to check myself. Am I remembering to take my meds? Am I moving my body? Am I’m learning to much into achievement over just being?
“There, there, Depression I see you. I will not leave you.”
When I resist these shadows, I miss the lesson, the soothing, the self-compassion. And those are usually the lessons that depression brings to me. It brings me an opportunity to self soothe, to feel the tension stored in my body, to release tears that have been hiding behind subtle stress, and to get back to my self-care practices of moving my body, drinking water, journaling, and prayer.
What about work? When I’m in it, often my inner critic gets the best of me with thoughts like:
- no one wants your lousy depressed mood
- just quit, you’ll never succeed anyway
- you’ll just bring everyone down
- hide, in fact, just go away and disappear completely
You see why I have to soothe? That shit is MEAN. And if I listen to it, if I believe it, I die. I wasn’t meant to die. Not inside like that. Neither were you. The fight for love and life is a just fight. And so I will fight to soothe those thoughts. I will fight to be easy and tender with myself. I will fight to share my heart…because when I do, I realize I am not alone. In my sharing, I give other people permission to choose life and love.
Once I was on a professional panel of coaches. And somehow, I for the first time, shared that I struggled with depression. The audience knew me as totally successful, positive and skilled. I was, but I also struggled with depression deeply and almost daily. After that session, there was a line of people waiting to meet me, to connect with me, and to say, ME TOO.
My boss at the time shamed me later, “I would have NEVER shared that from the stage” she chided. But I knew. The world didn’t need more fake it till you make it. They needed someone who can both be successful and shiny — who also had a shadow side too. In that moment, I decided another layer of me being me deserved to come out of the shadows.
I don’t like to toss it around flippantly. I don’t want to wallow in my depression. I choose not to be a victim of it, but rather see it as a dancing partner. I am still learning to dance the shadows. This post is a dance…. a way for me to tell myself, and my depression that this is sacred.
In that sacredness, I keep going. I get up, make my bed, get dressed, put on my makeup and fix my hair, I adorn even my depressed self, with love and kindness. I write about it. I journal about it. I self soothe, pray and get back to center….and then…
I don’t push through it with brute force, but with the tender feminine love. With self-compassion and a few extra naps. And these small gestures of self-kindness, somehow begin to fill the well, and I am able to keep taking small steps. Permission to take smaller steps during feely times. Tee, tiny, steps…. and I remember I am enough. And then I go out into the world and do my thing…and take that little bit of light that starts to come through…and I see who else I can give it to.
I wish there was a big finish. There isn’t. Like the depression, there is a flat finish. And ya know what…. it’s perfectly imperfect. Just like me.
PS. This share is not an invitation for your advice, or your offer of healing. I do not need to be fixed. All is well. I would however, be delighted to hear what WORKS FOR YOU if you struggle with depression?