I don’t know why after so many years I still get disappointed when depression cuts me down, but I do. Just a few weeks ago, I felt a certain sense of mastery. The herbal meds my naturopath had placed me on were working well, I’d completed a rigorous but exciting blog challenge and made some new friends, and I felt like I was coming home to my true purpose.
Unlike the common perception that others may have, when an anti-depressant works, you don’t feel manic or over-inflated (if it’s the right one). You just feel normal! Feeling normal is such an indescribable feeling, that I was secretly enjoying it, but not quite ready to announce it to the world. I know I have problems with the holidays (not winter, as I’ve alluded to elsewhere), so I wanted to be sure of myself. Feelings are such a grey area for me, and I’m not always sure I know what I’m feeling after such a long history of depression and dissociation. But I was hopeful.
We found out my wife’s mother was gravely ill, and made a long trip (by chronically ill standards) to see her. It was good connecting, although I suspect it stirred up a lot of memories of my father’s death back in 1995 in the hospital. I was also acutely aware that it has been over 12 years since I have seen my own mother, and the distance between Canada and Australia seems more daunting than ever as I long for the chance to connect once more with her and my past
On our return, it became clear that our daughter, A-, was struggling more severely with her winter depression, and it became very hard for me to segregate myself from her experience. Anyone who is familiar with the Myers-Briggs temperament scale will understand that when I say that I am an INFP. I am ruled both by my sensitivity and empathy for the suffering of others.
Soon after, was the mass shooting of 20 elementary school aged children and 8 adults (including the shooter) on December 14, 2012. I couldn’t control or contain my horror any more. I knew I was grieving and angry, but I didn’t dare express the latter because I am no good at arguing when I am grieving. As one who has trouble crying, I sobbed as though my heart was physically breaking, and I have been crying on and off ever since. My anger about the cold savage cruelty of guns becomes incoherent, and I know I can’t argue my case without falling apart. I tried to speak up today, but quickly discovered that I could never reconcile my anger and sorrow with the opinions of others, and that I just better keep my opinions to myself.
I read about families celebrating Christmas, but for me there is nothing to celebrate. Being alive? I’m so depressed that it hardly seems a victory, but I know that I am responsible for living and not causing harm, so my task now is to find some joy.
Traditionally, joy for me is in the small things. It’s in the cold winter air that reminds me to breathe. The light dusting of snow we had in my town that reminds me that the natural world has purity and beauty. The birds at our feeders. The beagles that cuddle up with me at night. The love of my wife. The small family we have built here for ourselves in Canada.
I know that time will heal all hurts as it always does, so I will allow time to ease my grief and bring me small joys to revive my spirits.
Moments of peace and joy, however small, is what I wish for all beings in this universal season of peace and joy.