On depression, and paradoxes
I didn’t want to talk about depression.
I felt like experts would do a better job at it. Describing it and offering solutions. I don’t have THE solution. That would be such an unreasonable claim!
“5 steps to a happier life”, “10 ways to beat depression”, “The easy way to overcome anxiety”...
This makes me feel sick, so I guess I’m going to talk about depression after all. At least, my depression.
If I’m being honest, I’m not sure how I went out of it. I didn’t follow a plan. It was surely a process, but can this process be repeated? Plus, you never really totally get rid of depression. Because if this world doesn’t depress you once in a while, you might question your own sense of humanity.
I didn’t want to talk about depression as something one should cure, eradicate, eliminate. Somehow, I’m glad that I was a depressed teenager. Somehow this is what kept me sane. I know, paradox. But it helped me look for myself. It made me look for art within myself (thanks to Charles Baudelaire and Edvard Munch).
Maybe it was not the depression itself, but I think that one way or another, wanting to die awoke a desire for life within me. And I believe that the pain of depression can come from the fact that we don’t always want to choose a side. We watch those two desires, life and death, fight a paradoxical battle in the sense that we fear to choose one side or the other.
The longer we remain passive, the sharper the pain.
Because we should want one or the other, right? And it’s another cause of pain to notice that we don’t make sense at all to other people. “Why can’t you just be happy?”, “One day you smile and the next you’re at the bottom of the pit!”, “Get yourself together!” Helplessness.
Of course, just on the physical level, taking care of my body, getting rid of toxins, chemicals, processed foods, having a healthy lifestyle was THE starting point. But wouldn't it be preposterous to believe that that would be enough?
We, humans, are not just our bodies. We need to assess our interiority, our mind, our thoughts and I dare say the word, our soul.
It’s one thing to detox our body, it’s another to examine our systems of thinking. The habits of our mind. Our unconscious. And just like we do with our body, we need to acknowledge the toxins of our mind. Except that there’s no getting rid of them. We have to see the darkness, watch our darkest thoughts. The real step forward is when we accept them. We let them be and see them for nothing more than what they are. Thoughts. Getting rid of this part of ourselves would be getting rid of a part of our humanity. Paradox? We like to think of our humanity as what's best within us. That is the paradox. Let’s accept to be whole. For there’s no light without darkness. The work is to learn to love both.
What happened to me on my journey to healing depression was a chance to know myself better.
I say healing, not curing.
Healing isn’t a process of eliminating an ailment to go back to a former state of total well-being. My view of healing is making something new with yourself out of the “dysfunction” (quote intended) that has been presented to you. There is no going back.
Healing depression was about understanding myself thoroughly, deciding to choose life, including the darkness and the absurdity. Including the insane state of the world.
Healing depression was about understanding that I was hypersensitive, not broken. It meant understanding that this overwhelming feeling was actually trying to tell me something. It took me years to figure out what. Some days, I still debate with myself on that topic.
But there’s one thing that I’m sure of, it’s that I need to choose my desire to live. Everyday. Over and over again. I need to pick a side. For me, there’s no overcoming depression once and for all.
I was only 14 when I considered suicide as an option. I was 26, was a mother of two, my baby was only 6 months old when I attempted to my days with the most determination. I was 28 when I decided I wanted to heal and worked for it, consciously. So it’s been ten years.
I believe that trying to understand and heal my depression took me where I am now. Maybe I had no choice. I don’t know about that. But it opened my mind and my heart. It made me more compassionate and loving. It taught me patience as well as determination. It gave me both courage and acceptance. Acceptance of what is, and the courage to act each day to make it just a little bit better. Paradox? I’m not so sure.
My pain ceased, along with this dull feeling of helplessness when I committed to myself to take a little action, every day. To every day do something with love and show gratitude. Corny? Maybe.
Idealism does that.
and so far, it has been my best antidepressant.
How is it for you? How do you find solace and do you relate with any of these paradoxes? Would love to hear about you and your stories in the comments.