There is a fir tree outside my bedroom window. When there is no snow and the day is clear, the branches all curve upwards to the sun. However, when it snows, the branches of the tree all sag downward with the weight of the snow. The tree sometimes looks like a collapsed umbrella.
Depression can feel like that. It feels like the snow is weighing me down with the antipathy of the depression. The feeling that I don’t have the energy to get out of bed in the morning. When my children were younger, I had no problems getting out of bed and doing things because I had no choice. They needed me to do something for them so they could be safe and functional. I would get up and get things done, even when all I wanted was to stay in bed.
Then there are the mornings when there is only some snow on the branches, and the snow is not dragging them down as far. Those are the mornings that I can get out of bed and start to do things for the day. I won’t get much done because there is a lethargy I can’t shake. It is not debilitating, just stifling.
Then there are the glorious mornings when there is no snow holding me back. I can get up and face the day. I can get things done, and I can find peaceful ways to exist. I can meditate. I can study my spiritual writings. I can even write in the morning. Those are good days.
This morning, the thing that caught my attention as I was looking at the tree from the bed was that no matter what the weight on the branches, they only sag; they don’t break. They are still there firmly, holding whatever is placed on them. I don’t always feel like I am holding the burdens that I carry very well. But I carry them.
I do, however, have something in common with the tree outside.
No matter what it may look like, I have not broken either. I might be sagging down to the ground and look like a closed up umbrella, or I might look like I am raising my arms in the sunlight. In either case, I know that I can move through whatever the days have for me. I need to do it with gentleness and not force the branches up when they carry a heavy burden. Accepting that there are days when I struggle and days when I shine, it is easier to navigate those heavy days. I think what I am trying to say is to be kind to myself when I have a hard day. Not all days will be hard.