Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Over on Dale's blog, there's a conversation about how we do or don't choose to be depressed.

I can't speak for anyone else's experience, but as best I can tell, I have three kinds of reactions when I'm on the "brink":

-I look at what else I have to get done and unceremoniously shove the thing aside and walk past it. This happens when it's simply not practical to fall apart or sink. I know this isn't true for others, but I seem to be able to decide I don't have time for the episode, that it's a luxury, and I'm going to have to forego it to feed my kids dinner.

-I see it rising on a wave of sand headed towards me from the distance, and like Aragorn in his latest horse-riding-movie-who's-name-escapes-me-at-the-moment, I take shelter from the storm under a roof of some of that accumulated karma Dale refers to. Or as I see it, just remembering that the spiritual concepts I try to live by are accessible if I invest some trust in them seems to shelter me through some of the threatened attacks.

-I have an accumulation of hormones or small defeats along with some span of available time, that hurdle me like a Nolan Ryan fastball into the arms of despair. No one calls, I miss my Mom, the dog tears up the cat litter box, and I'm down for the count. I know exactly how to exacerbate it too... copious quantities of chocolate to feel guilty about eating, a couple of hours online perusing personal ads or smarmy articles about dating and love to remind me that I'm alone and most everyone who's nice is married, some mood music (U2 really does the job, as does Red Rain by Peter Gabriel), and eventually regressing to the point of watching bad sitcoms in a pair frumpy sweats. Whatever you do, don't put on make-up, go for a walk, or call a friend, it might break the mood.

This is me. It is not you, nor do I think others operate this way, so please don't assume this is meant to be judgemental, in fact I don't think I suffer from any chemical patterns of depression so I don't think my experience is like most. It's just how I view my own responses. Frankly I don't know why I am so capable of switching it off, and alternatively why I am so capable of rolling around in it like my dog rolls on a decaying fish while we are out for a walk by the duckpond. I like the middle one best, really, the ability to dig in and remember the reason to trust and let go. It's so comforting.

When I was out at the coast on retreat this weekend, I took a long walk by myself on Saturday afternoon in the sun. I was surprised to find myself peaceful and actually joyful at my existance. So many times the alone moments turn into times to analyze and shred my self esteem to bits, or worry about something I should be doing, or finding things to be grateful for in spite of some overarching fear. I felt none of that Saturday, and it was awfully nice to spend minutes actually enjoying my own skin.

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