28 Days of Truth, Art and Healing: Day #24 Depression and Acceptance [entry-title permalink="0"]

hidden scars 001

I know I recently mentioned that I have dealt with clinical depression for most of my life.Ā  Since it is something I “struggle” with, I haven’t talked much about it, but as I am learning, I don’t have to have arrived at some destination to tell my story.

Resonance is important and I get emails all the time from women thanking me for telling my story, for helping them feel less alone, for putting to words exactly how they are feeling. I often get “how did you get in my head?’ from various readers.

Depression is hard, so so so hard. It colors the way you view the world, yourself. It is a well worn pathway of hopelessness and despair.

I think my deep sense of hopelessness began at around the age of 11 or 12 when I repeatedly ran away and was repeatedly was sent back to my mother (my abuser). I can remember that helpless right now, the tears are right here today. And the anger, let’s not forget the anger.

I remember the day it became too much for my young psyche. I took a bunch of Tylenol pills that day as my mother cooked dinner. I surrendered that day.

My mother knew something was wrong and asked me what I did and I remember just sitting there, waiting for death to take me.

Death didn’t come, the amount that I took wasn’t enough to even get me admitted to a hospital. I was a little girl and didn’t know how much it took. But I remember not fighting, not being afraid and just wanting to go. I learned how to be helpless (learned helplessness) and it became a part of me to see the world through helpless/hopeless eyes of despair.

For years I didn’t know that I was not my thinking and that my thoughts were not necessarily true. Even after being out of my mother’s grip, I still believed I was nothing, that I was helpless and that

there wasn’t much hope in this life.

I was like the elephant who has been chained all of its life and then is unshackled but doesn’t move from the area where he has been chained.He doesn’t know or understand that he can.

Yeah, just like that.

We learn how to deny the deepest parts of ourselves in order to survive, we learn how deny our very souls.

Throughout the years I have despaired and felt like I couldn’t make it, but life has been a great teacher, wisely pointing me toward exactly what I needed to learn and am still learning. Life gave me a little girl early on, that I would never leave. Life gave me a calling that made the past have meaning. Life gave me love, art, Shalom, teachings all around me to lift me up. Life gave me the perfect people at the perfect time. Life gave me what I needed for my journey to survive but also to thrive.

breathe sand

I still have days in which the dark cloud thickens and I forget the truth of who I am.

I still have pessimistic thoughts, I still feel helpless at times. Those times are the hardest because I know the beauty of my life and so when I feel that way, I feel like a fraud, like I’m being ungrateful, like I am wrong somehow.

But after listening to the following excerpt from Pema Chodron’s Noble Heart Audio CD, I can now add another layer to healing my depression..acceptance and being with.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean accept it and do nothing about and just rot in the darkness of depression. No I most certainly don’t mean that.

Do whatever you can, medication, exercise, nutrition, acupuncture, body work, writing, art, massage, therapy, coaching…whatever it takes to repeatedly lift yourself out of it.

But after listening to this, I wonder what it would be like to soften into those times when I am feeling depressed, to be with myself, to use it as a time of introspection, honoring my boundaries even more. What would it be like to practice maitri.

Maitri is translated in a lot of ways, maybe most commonly as love, but the way Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche translated it was unconditional friendliness and in particular unconditional friendliness to oneself.

What would it be like to do this:

Pema talked about a man who dealt with depression like this…

“I have a friend who has cyclical depression and he’s been meditating for 20 years. When he began he hoped that they would go away and he would never have them again. And somewhere into the process he lost heart completely, when he saw that yes things were changing for him and yes he felt a real softening in his being and a real opening outward and yes he knew he was becoming much more flexible and he was experiencing less fear but still every so often the depressions would come back and that was very discouraging.

And when I talked to him last, he said now he knows that they come and knows that they go and when he is with them he applies mindfulness and maitri and he sits with it and it doesn’t feel good.

And he also knows what makes it worse and what escalates suffering, what escalates, the darkness and he knows what helps it lighten up. He knows its not a time to make major decisions in his life. He knows its not a time to have important conversations with people because everything is so colored by the darkness. He tends to use those times to read, sort of retreat, go for a lot of walks and be with himself with as much maitri as he can.

Part of maitri is that you aren’t in a rush, that you really trust your own speed.”

What if you could trust your own speed?

What if you could be with your depression when it does come (despite everything you are doing for it) and not judge yourself for it and not berate your own self for it.

What if you could love yourself anyway?

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