I have a lot of love for my fellow blogger Ms Jen & Tonic. By love here I mean mutual respect and general care for how she is fairing. This post comes out of that care and “love”. In her post entitled: Climbing the Highest Mountain she talks about hiking. Not just your regular hiking but emotional hiking. She describes it as such: “My mind is huffing and puffing, hurting so deeply that sometimes I think I’ll collapse. I’m sweating through my tear ducts, and I’m starving for nourishment of a different kind.” It was a touching post because we have all been there. This is an experience we can despite our gender age, race, language, and sexual orientation all sympathize but more importantly empathize with. She asks towards the end of the post:
Have you ever received something you didn’t know you needed at the exact moment you needed it most? I’ve somehow managed to make it this far on my own, but I’ve reached a fork in the road, and need someone with a map to show me which way to go.
And I thought I would share something to add my own two cents to the pot.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
My life has been beset with a lot of sadness, isolation and pain. I’m not sure when it happened. One day the sun never rose and everything was encased in the strange grey light of the pre-dawn hours. I was waiting for something that would make something in my life feel warm again.
Years of being horribly depressed means to me years of performing for others. Doing well in school to please parents, putting up with bullshit from friends for the sake of feeling like I was part of something. There were a lot of beatings because supposedly that how kids are taught structure and respect. There were a lot of night where I was kept awake by hunger, or many walks in the cold without a winter coat, or sleeping on a dirty mattress on the floor of some shitty apartment, and there was the intense agony of sickle cell disease that seemingly started the graying of the hairs around my chin at 30.
Every now and then I carry something in my wallet. Now it is a playing card with a picture of a joker. Before it was this quote by Wordsworth: “Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”
There was never anything that gave me solace: drinking, sex, video games, money, pets, fancy clothes or cars, electronics. What happened though was one day I became cognizant that these states I feel are distinct from me. Who ever Dave is has nothing to do with depression. Dave can feel depression, he can feel itchy, happy etc But there is a part of me that is independent of all that which assails me.
I have had two therapists, and they helped me at a major difficult point of my life but that was it. I felt like Jen, that I needed some help to continue. my therapist helped sorta, but after a point they only brought me to the gate of a journey I had to walk myself. One day talking to a recovering alcoholic something clicked.
Chit Chatting w/a Recovery Alkie
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
He told me that alcohol was a means of self-medicating. There was a condition or a problem that existed internally that he tried to medicate with drugs and alcohol instead of addressing.
One day after that I decided to explore and interact with directly with my depression. This meant that I had to accept that I didn’t have a disease or a mental disorder. I had to except that whatever it really was real. I felt that the depression I felt was a manifestation of something else.
Results and Thoughts
Be grateful for whatever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
A human being is very complex. There are many hidden layers to being I feel. When I am depressive, I notice that I am not really expressive meaning that I have not been able to go inside of myself there are knots in my psyche, there are things in my mind I cannot let go of. After enough time of ignoring or suppressing anything we give them power over us I feel. In due time, what was manifesting inwardly starts to show in the body: the hunched over walk, the slight weight gain, the lower back pain, the lethargy etc..
You wouldn’t believe how old feelings of hurt and inadequacy and anger stay with you, and how over time they rot your insides. I feel that there were two people inside of me, one who wanted to be better to keeping on pushing the pace, exploring new things. There was another part of me that wanted to stay “sick” to let the old wounds continue to fester.While I was doing this kind of work I looked around me at the people I knew and I could see for a moment how much we are all wounded as individuals, as a culture, as a society.
That issue of woundedness always brings me back to the image/ myth of the fisher king. He was wounded and the land has become and will remain sterile and depressed until someone can cure him. I feel that is how it is for many of us. We are wounded but we ignore that and continue on with life. We go to college, because it was the next logical step from high school, we go to Graduate school then we work, then we try to get that corner office and then the gold watch when we retire, a few moment right before we die. We go through the motions. Our woundedness makes it impossible for the events in our life to sustain and satisfy us as they should and as they can.
I’ve written a lot, more than I expected too.
Ultimately I see my depression as a gift really. I have learned what triggers it. What environments I am in that will make it more acute. I have and am doing working to address a lot of the hurt and wounds I carried for a long time. It’s not something I need to get rid of. I have sat with it like I do with a good friend at the bar and doing so has enriched my inner life. I continue doing it and have learned a lot. I don’t want to give you the idea that this is fun or easy. Its painful, it’s eviscerating but the sense of peace freedom afterwards is so freeing and worthwhile.
I think that’s it