Listen to this story
By Michael Hudson
I debated whether to share this or not, but I just have a feeling there is someone who needs to read it.
A bit of a hangover from a day that just never felt quite right and a sense of emptiness that won’t leave me at the moment. Pushing through and planning a great day, but truthfully having to work to do that.
It really is a weird place to be when days like these come around. No clear cause to be found no matter how hard I look, and there’s no easy path to recovering the clarity and focus that I need. And that inner desire to just run away and be somewhere else becomes almost overwhelming.
But there is no place to go and nowhere to hide.
The most difficult part about “it” is my relentlessness in trying to find a cause or a trigger and never succeeding. It just adds to the “feeling of failure” that often underlies it all. Which, of course, keeps the spiral alive.
Sure, I can attribute “it” to the season or the weather or being sick for a few days, but “it” feels so much deeper than that. The doubt, the concern, the listlessness, the isolation, the dip in energy and focus — all so real, so intense, and so in the way. Wanting, on the one hand, to talk about “it” and on the other to ignore “it” and wait for “it” to pass. Thinking a change of venue will fix everything, but knowing that it won’t.
Pondering reaching out to ask for help, but not wanting to admit that “it” has returned because you thought you were past it this time. Knowing that the reality is you will always deal with “it” and never really know when “it” will come around again or why.
And feeling like no one else can understand, that no one else has ever been through ‘it,’ that others have mastered the journey back, silently judging yourself for your inability to do the same.
“It” stinks. “It” pisses you off. And “it” feels helpless in the moment.
So you wait…
Pushing your way through the moments that make up the days, pulling out every practice you’ve crafted and putting them to work, knowing that just as quickly as “it” came “it” can also leave. Uncertain about the moment when “it” will, continually anxious for that moment to arrive. The fleeting instant when you will realize you aren’t feeling “it” anymore and “it” will be gone for another undefined period of time.
You also isolate yourself…the last thing you want to hear are those words of encouragement about how this will pass, the inquiries about what caused “it” (they always feel like subtle salvos suggesting you somehow created this and can, therefore, fix “it”). That’s why you choose not to talk about ‘it,’ even with those who love you most.
You think thoughts that are anything but helpful…asking all kinds of ridiculous questions: Why are you wired like this? How did this happen again? Why can’t you ever solve this problem once and for all? Why aren’t my practices working faster? But you have no answers and asking doesn’t really help, so you remind yourself to stop and just keep moving.
And you wait…because “it” will pass when it’s time and you will rebound. You try hard to celebrate the fact that you recognized this bout sooner than you would have a few years ago and find minor solace in that.
That’s what depression is like for me.
This may or may not feel familiar for you, and may or may not help you understand ‘it.’ If you’re fortunate to have never experienced ‘it,’ perhaps this will help you understand someone you know who deals with ‘it.’ Or if that person is you, perhaps this will make you feel a bit less alone or encourage you in some way (I know that not feeling like the only one often helps me in an odd way I can’t explain).
Unlike many of the things I write and share, this is one that is not comfortable, and I fear it may not even be helpful. After all, this is about my pain and my struggle and may have nothing to do with you and yours. I am not sharing to seek sympathy or empathy (or any of the other words ending in ‘y’ that we use to show that we care about someone else).
I’m sharing to get “it” out of my head in the hope that I can arrive more quickly on the other side of the chasm I feel in my emotions today because that’s what I need right now (please pardon the selfish indulgence).
I’m also sharing because journaling is one of my go-to practices for dealing with “it” and one that almost always works (I do in fact feel a bit better already just because I am talking my way through what I am feeling which gets me out of that place where I keep searching for a reason).
And perhaps I am sharing because you needed to read this today.
My truth is that I accept and acknowledge these periodic bouts of depression that have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. They began long before I knew what they were called and return periodically without warning.
Sticking around for a few days, reminding me that life is not about eliminating the highs and the lows, but rather about managing their amplitude and periodicity (fancy physics terms for the distance between the highs and the lows and the lengths of time spent in each state).
Finally, I acknowledge and claim a major victory this time around — I did not turn to my old practice of medicating myself with sugar to simulate the serotonin-like calm I’ve so often sought at these times. I’m just riding them out, knowing they will, in fact, pass as I meditate, radiate gratefulness, and take care of me.
Maybe that’s why it feels different and a little weird this time — because I am seeing the ride through to the end instead of medicating my way through it. And I am 100% sure this is the right path for this time around and those that will follow.