To be courageous and vulnerable, I must put myself “out there.” “Out there” is the place where I allow the world to hear my thoughts and feel my heart. “Out there” is a scary place. Sometimes my thoughts are dark and murky and my heart is barely beating and other, fewer times my thoughts are clear and colorful as a kaleidoscope and my heart pounds with rhythmic, thunderous beats. Most of my time is spent in the dark and murky, unfortunately.
Serotonin, this “happy” chemical, makes it so that when something good happens to someone who produces an adequate amount of serotonin, their chemically balanced brain kicks in and they feel on top of the world like nothing can touch them and it might spur them to go on and do greater things. They’re riding high on a wave of self-confidence. When something good happens to me, the first thing I think is what can go wrong to take away this happiness that, in reality, I’m not even feeling anyway. It scares me and I believe I haven’t done enough to deserve it. I drowned in an undertow of fear, shame and unworthiness.
By no means do I hold myself out as an expert in the field of depression. I am an expert in my own depression, though. I know what mine looks like. I know how mine feels. I recognize it and embrace it like an old friend. I don’t look forward to it, but it feels as warm and comforting as an old blanket. But there is one thing I know — that old friend would steal my blanket and leave me to die out in the cold and I wouldn’t do a damn thing about it. I would hand the blanket over without a fight. It is agonizing to know that you willingly gave away the one thing that might save your life. It lies to you, manipulates, and preys on your weaknesses. It never has your back. It is not your friend.
I’ve been given several remedies by the well-meaning people in my life — religion, drugs, yoga, meditation, a good kale smoothie every day, subscribing to the “fake-it-until-you-make-it” philosophy. The list goes on and on. “Just get over it and get off the couch” has been strongly suggested to me in a very loud and unkind voice by a not-so well-meaning person I called boyfriend. I believe my retort had something to do with his lack of sexual stamina and everything I felt about his judgmental, bible-thumping mother. Certainly not one of my better moments. Nor his.
I read a good bit, watch TED talks, listen to podcasts, and read other people’s blogs on topics from DIY projects involving looking-glass paint (who knew?), the benefits of oil pulling, how to do a proper winged eyeliner, and everything I need to know about Benghazi, Ukraine and Nigeria. The other day I read something about taking responsibility for healing yourself. In it, the author realizes in ONE night that her negative self-talk (a phenomenon all too familiar to myself) has been physically and emotionally damaging, has this long cry, and then initiated a process of forgiveness and acceptance, eventually going on to do great and wonderful things. All in one night. Now I’m not doubting her experience, and kudos to her if this is how her self-awakening occurred. I, on the other hand, have a totally different experience.
I have these epiphanies on a weekly basis. I can cry all I want and initiate all kinds of “plans” in which I’m going to be a kinder and gentler friend to myself and other people I care about and love, squeeze the life out of my creative muse, be productive in all things social, but I fall back into old habits and ways. For me, the process of becoming self-aware (not to be as dangerous as Skynet), has been a long string of tiny a-ha moments on my ever-evolving and simultaneous, circuitous path. I work in a spiral, if you can imagine, spiraling down and winding up.
I don’t for one minute think I will ever have the cure to non-chemical serotonin deficiency. Although I’ve been reading lately that a low dose of ketamine (who knew?) has come onto the stage as a possible maintenance method. I’ve been trying to recruit friends to travel to Peru with me for an Ayahuasca experience. I’ve tried cognitive behavior therapy, and while it sounds and looks really good on paper, it’s damn hard to implement in real life. Being out of your head while at the same time trying to stay in your head? Or vice versa. Maybe. I don’t know. Perhaps I’m overthinking.
I’ve been accused of “using” my depression when it suits me. Looking from the outside, I guess I could see why someone would think that, but the accusation cuts to the bone and wounds my soul.
Author’s note: I wrote everything to this point in April of 2016 and never published this post. I have lots of drafts. Starting and not finishing is a character flaw I deal with daily. I re-read it today and everything I wrote is still my truth. It may seem like an unfinished post and the writing is, admittedly, meandering and disjointed, but I wanted to get it “out there” with the hope that I reconnect and re-engage with my muse, myself and the Universe.