If any other person said “love your depression” to me, I probably wouldn’t talk to them much longer. However, when my counsellor says “love your depression”, I know it’s not some positive thinking message she’s trying to whitewash this crippling pain with. She’s inviting me to think about things in different ways. She’s saying, “Treat your depression as a messenger. Listen to what it’s telling you.”
I’m aware my brain is a mess. If I could visualize it, it would probably be a 7-11 store – a most apt description with all the busyness and strange people (thoughts) coming and going at all hours. There’d be stuff spilled on the floor and I’d be standing in the corner, holding a mop as a refuge, as people slopped multi-coloured slushies from one end of the store to the other.
A week ago, I felt I was gaining mastery over It (It being depression). If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll know I don’t like to give depression any more power than it’s due. I don’t want to call it an enemy or a dragon or personify it in any way that gives it any more control over me. It’s a physical illness, damn it, not a mystical beast that can shred me alive. And yet there’s an old Split Enz song I love (yeah, dating myself) that goes – “I need a dragon-slayer who can save me from myself.”
A week ago, I had Plans. Plans for finding new meaningful work, for utilizing whatever talents have been spared by my disease – God knows, there’s a few – that I can turn into the ten to fifteen hours a week I need to make my new life work after feeling totally discarded by my client of nearly 7 years. I’m sorry if that sounds dramatic, but I’ll allow myself that moment of feeling sorry for myself. Then I’ll pick my ego up and move on.
Anyway, a week ago, I was ready to clean the proverbial house. I began throwing away the stuff I had carted with me for the last twenty years. Stuff from my undergraduate degree, for goodness sakes, which I finished in 1988. Okay, that’s more than twenty years isn’t it? My intelligence wasn’t stored in those boxes, but by all accounts I thought it was. Decades of illness had taken so much, but I realized that what is me is in my brain somewhere (foggy as it may get at times). It’s not in those diligent notes I copied down, with graphs made so tenderly as though I was drafting the solution to world peace. It turns out, all that stuff was a noose around my neck. It was an identification with the past me, who while pretty awesome, isn’t the now me. So I started burning it. (Yes, I know recycling is the planet friendly option, but I didn’t have the strength to lug it to the curb, and I thought burning it would feel more cathartic. It did). And for a day or two, I felt I was “Letting Go” of all the crap that’s holding me back. I began planning my new website, writing my resume, planning what my new business would offer. I even threw away my “cast-iron” suicide plan that I’d been harbouring since last November, because I didn’t need it any more.
Then, It clawed back. It said, “Who do you think you are?” My counsellor said that sometimes our egos can run away and need a bit of a slap down, but by all indications, she didn’t think that was presently my problem.
I read an interesting article today that talked about how depression can be a sign that we’re bored. There’s something to that. I’ve been doing the same job for seven years, and increasingly, any power to give input and even do quality work (yes, the quality of my work was too good) was whittled away. So maybe the depression is more a total case of stuckness made real.
And of course, fear, because if I don’t make a go of a new business (in partnership with Mrs Blackbird), then I could lose It all. It being our home and stuff. Wow, put like that, it’s not so bad. If I have Mrs Blackbird, our furred and feathered family, my friends around the world, and a nice shoebox to live in, would it really be so bad?
My counsellor reminded me of the poem written by Rumi, “The Guest House”. Her point is, whoever your guests are: love, anger, fear, depression, sorrow, grief, joy, guilt… welcome them in. Love your depression.
So maybe my brain’s not a 7-11 store. Maybe it’s a guest house. I’m going to try to love my depression – for my heart friends and family, for my counsellor, for Mrs Blackbird – and most of all, for me. Love doesn’t mean having to fight or drive it away. Love means letting it be.
Can I be grateful to the messenger? In not holding such aversion in my heart, will the dark storm pass? I’m willing to find out. I have to find out.