I am thankful that this was just one day of depression and not days, months or years of it as is true for too many people. It was true for me once, too, ten years ago. And today's depression was no where near as bad as then when I had very, very little motivation to do anything. I managed to earn a BFA in painting and photography very slowly and, to my dismay, with too much mediocre work. And before that, just after I went through a severe psychotic break with reality, I experienced the worst kind of depression: suicidal depression. It lasted months and then shifted into a depression where I could still continue and wait for a positive change. And I did wait. And the positive change did come and I returned to humor and laughter and peace off and on. And I was very grateful.
I am still very grateful and it does help immensely to practice gratitude. So many people are suffering so much in all kinds of ways every moment in different places all over the world. And they, too, need to practice gratitude - especially them. Because there are so very many things to be grateful for on this planet with all its diversity of life. The human body is a miracle with all of our amazing senses. For those of us who can see I think we are overly attached to our sight at the expense of appreciating our other senses sometimes. And yet sight is incredible. And the air we breath that sustains us, and the spaces we live in, and the ability to move, and, of course, our wonderful, creative minds. And then there's our hearts which have been so wounded over time, which we armor, numb and hide sometimes.
Today, through the depression, I began to see that I am still a shame based, fearful person. I love people at the same time that I fear them. But once I reach out and talk to them and hear their stories and their high and low points in life, so similar to my own, much of the fear diminishes and I feel some joy. Today I spent alone and talked to almost no one. Today I should have called a friend, but instead fell asleep for several hours. But I see that as the lesson that I'm being taught that next time I will have that choice again and will choose regardless of my depression to talk to someone and share and listen to them and support them. I am learning.
This day of depression comes at the end of a very good week. I renewed a friendship I started last year, I called someone from my Al-Anon support group and had a wonderful talk with her, I began to see a new therapist who specialized in yoga, I talked with a dear childhood friend, I talked with an artist friend for the first time on the phone and felt a sense of deep compassion. So I reached out this week for the first time in months. Perhaps that's why this day of solitude stood out for me in a way that it didn't before because my general routine was to stay alone.
It still comes down to the 12 Step slogan - "Let Go and Let God." Melody Beattie in her daily reader book The Language Of Letting Go said repeatedly that I should believe that I am where I'm supposed to be, that there's a larger picture, a greater plan than I can be aware of and that I should trust the recovery process. And I do despite the fears and the shaky sense that I'm wrong and making mistakes when I'm really not. After all I've been through, I know now with much more confidence that I am a good person and that it is okay to love myself and continue.
A Recovery Blog
This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.