Depression and the Art of Listening to Myself

These have been dark days. Depression, which usually lies as an underthought to my day, has begun controlling things again. I seem to spend more time hiding in bed because my heart hurts. My heart hurts because I am triggering my body into self-protection mode, much like what it went into right before I got sick five years ago. It feels like my thinking brain is saying we got this, and the part of my brain that knows we certainly do not “got this” is enlisting the aide of my body to get the thinking parts attention. And it is working.

When I try to work my way through the day, keep busy, go to work, put up preserves, and anything else I can do to avoid facing what is actually bothering me, my heart hurts. It is just an ache. An ache that is always there, quietly reminding me to slow down and pay attention. 

Last month two of my children moved out and started on their journey in life; this is a great and wonderful thing. I now only have two children at home. My life is in transition, and I am not sure that I am ready for that transition. The observer would think that I had been preparing for this transition for the last few years. I have gone to college, found a job, and began to put together my work in preparation for publication of my writing, all of it done to start a life outside of raising children. Yet when it comes down to the actual happening, I find myself falling deeper into depression.

Depression is one of those things that, for me, is difficult to put into words. When I try to explain how I feel and how the depression feels like it is eating my soul and leaving me an empty husk, I usually elicit vague responses. I think it is because I say it dramatically that people don’t take it seriously. I am not sure that I want them to take it seriously. Because ultimately, I don’t want to take it seriously. And this is where my body steps in and gets my attention.

I had a dream last night. In the dream, there was someone that was upset that I had done something. I had opened a window that did not have a screen and let a lot of bugs in the house. I said that I was sorry but that I was hot and needed the air, had I know there was no screen, I would not have opened that window. The person started yelling at me about opening the window again. I asked them to repeat what I had said to them. They repeated up to the point where I said I was hot and opened the window. They didn’t listen to the rest. I am not listening to myself.

Today I got rid of the games on my tablet that I use to escape; I read my spiritual writings, meditated, and listened to a poem. All of the things I had been avoiding. Things that bring balance to me before I get out of bed in the morning. I also started listening to a podcast called The Hillarious World of Depression. Listening to the podcast on movies that accurately depict depression felt as though I had begun to find my tribe. 

Depression is not fun, nor is it funny. I can navigate it more easily if I acknowledge it. I have often wondered if it would ever go away, if someday I would wake up and find that everything was better, felt better anyway. I don’t know if that time exists. I have learned how to navigate life and find pleasure in the things around me. Right now, I am sad at the changes that are happening in my world. I think that I am basically at heart a happy person, or I want to find joy in the world around me. Sometimes that is enough. Acknowledging that the depression is there and very much a part of my life helps too. Today will be a good day because I know that I am sad, and I need to grieve. I can look for opportunities to grieve and be kind to myself.

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