Pressing the reset button on depression

After many weeks of being in a downward, depressive slump, the reset button was very recently pushed!

It is an invaluable, nifty little button that, and it gets better. It was my own action, my own agency and choice which pressed it.

I was feeling trapped, repeating the same week over and over again. Seeking fulfilment in the familiar, in places that when I stand back and look at them, are not really so good for me.

But taking on the aspect of a harlequin and a jester, I organized a show which helped turn all that, brought many talented folk to the stage, and left me with a sense of euphoria and achievement, surrounded by the closest possible friends.

Depression reset!

I have often read about how magic mushrooms and MDMA and the like can have this effect. Well who needs them! No high is going to come close to a successful performance, for this combines mastery built up over years with the fulfilment of my own narrative.

This is very good news indeed. All of my other ‘resets’ hitherto had been seasonal, something almost arcane. This was more direct.

I may not have the power to determine all my circumstances. And I may not have the power to completely react to those circumstances. But within this complex formula of self and destiny, I can at least make choices and carve out a place in the world such that the worst of depression and indignity can be blasted away for a time.

And sometimes a breathing space is all you need.

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Noticing the change of days

There was a cold snap in late February, a late come winter. A Siberian wind brought snow and brought cold, real cold.

By some mysterious working on my being, it was the end of the worst of my insomnia. The cold made bedtime so much easier, so much safer and more snug. I felt like a bug in a coccoon!

The cold brought a certain crystal clarity. It meant a bit of planning brought to the day, an extra consciousness and mindfulness. It was hard to endure, but clearly it led to some kind of shift.

I didn’t write much through March, April or May because I was too busy being a spring bud! The Spring and the sun does something to me, as I am sure it does many. It awakens something.

I have never been more aware of the presence of real-life forests faeries – known to the common tongue as blackbirds. I have never been so attuned to them, playful and silly and beautiful of song.

My energy levels have increased significantly. I feel like I can go out a lot more. Being able to sleep properly most nights is fantastic. The sun rising at 4am means night is not so deep, and much less scary. I don’t mind waking so early, as long as I can sleep again til a more sensible time.

Noticing the change of days. I longed for the sun and now it is here, must not take it for granted.

I remember the first proper day of sun, when Britons emerged from their shells and turned the high street outside my house into a catwalk! It was so showy as to be terrifying. Now it has toned down a bit.

Summer is that time when there is too much to do, and only enough time to do half of it. If that. We have to live with that and not be buried beneath the anxiety of ‘missing out’.

Being able to volunteer-work three days a week in organic gardens is doing me a wonder. To be useful and loved for it is such an important thing, something a life of unemployment and inactivity in the shadows of capitalism denied me for so long.

The will to fight those shadows did not increase the darker they got; its only with daily small victories and growth that anything can mustered against it.

There he goes again, bringing the c-word into things! But its true, isn’t it? Nothing of human artifice can match the dance of a thrush and its song. Nothing we make or do can replace that deep inner-shift of the seasons, or the joy that comes after our long, deep winter time.

The sun is out, and its my new ‘therapist’, for now! I feel now is a time for outward growth and advance, the truly deep introspection can wait til November.

It is amazing how obviously false individualism is, and all this talk of ‘control’ over our souls. We are creatures of the world and the sun, it has never seemed so obvious. Change our conditions, and you change our souls.

The change of days is as close as we can come to transcendence. Today I note it.

Imagine you were offered a pill…

Imagine you were offered a pill. Upon swallowing that small, white, round thing, you would cease to feel any of the symptoms of depression or anxiety disorders.

No more insomnia, no more panic, no more suicidal thoughts, no more angst, no more awkwardness, no more feeling isolated, no more feeling like an alien, no more despair.

All of these things would vanish in a matter of minutes, and they would never return. The rate of relapse would be 0%, the pill was that perfect.

Would you take it?

If you have, then you may have just destroyed a large part of yourself in one fell swoop. Seeking a purely medical solution to a spiritual problem, you would have abnegated responsibility to discover yourself, betrayed your soul in a Faustian pact.

Imagine the power it would give the manufacturers of such pills, to dominate others in such a way. Surrendering to them, you would be free from one terrible affliction but, as the saying goes, out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Depression and anxiety can get in the way of ‘life’, but then, what is this life and why should we live it in this way? Insomnia can ruin a work routine, but why would the deepest part of yourself commit such self sabotage? Could it be that the routine itself is the problem, more so than the insomnia?

I see my mental health problems as a quest, an immense riddle, one that cannot be easily sidestepped or shut down. It is useful to sometimes be free from it, distracted or medicated in extreme situations, but only as a break from it, not a total transcendence. As much as I have been on my knees and begged Mephistopheles to take away the anxiety, the vulnerability, the despair, I don’t really mean it.

These dark feelings and deep shadows are there for a reason. If they were not, they would not be there. If you have any degree of sensitivity, you will look upon the world and feel as much of its despair as you do its joy. We are in a troubled time, politically, ecologically, economically, spiritually, you name it. Our systems are failing, and many of us are clinging on to them to the bitter end, for, to use another cliché, better the devil you know.

But there are those of us who, at the very core of our souls, feel absolute revulsion for these broken systems and the price they are exacting on humanity and the world of beasts and plants. This albatross around our necks (there he goes again!) is a necessary one, and is in fact the only real hope of change.

Imagine you were reading a novel, a fantastical one where a hero must overcome herself, confront her deepest demons and strive to discover what is truly inside herself. She may never fully triumph, never fully reach some ‘enlightenment’ or god of healing, but the journey she makes, the heroism of her character,  the artfulness of her life, all of these things are inseparable from her. If the hero of the tale simply popped a pill and lost all motivation or drive to self-discovery, then what a terrible tale that would make. It would be trumpeting complacency as the highest virtue.

Complacency is the curse of civilization, for all complacent civilizations are swift to collapse into decadence. The shadow that stalks us, forcing us to evolve, to get better – this is what drives change.

The pill of all-healing would return us to complacency, and thus to the destruction of our true selves. Such ‘light’ cannot exist in our grey world without doing immense harm to the chaotic, beautiful balance we live in. Already people hide from their emotions by wearing the masks of capitalism and individualism. The price the world is paying for this is immense.

I live in my own shadow, a much taller and more powerful version of myself, and I would not magick that looming power away for anything, or anyone.

There is no pill that can take away all of our problems. But there is a change of perception and paradigm we can all make – to see depression and darkness as a sign that something is wrong out there, and thus drive us, when our energy returns to us, to change it.

 

Euphoric

It is important to remember and celebrate these days. When a weight has been lifted, when a cloud has passed, when the birds are piping at the dawnlight.

The why is hard to explain, if explanation is needed or possible. I just feel like all of my joints are made of a pleasantly squishy jelly and my central nervous system is reclined in a hammock hanging from an Indian pea tree.

Perhaps the many weeks of crushing weight and darkness have made this relative normality feel like euphoria. Perhaps this is the call of Spring, the first buds preparing to awaken – a time I associate with great wellbeing and expansion.

A particularly good session in psychotherapy last week changed phases from some bubble of Winter drear, and another session yesterday helped me to change the way I see Winter and darkness. Not things to be escaped, but lessons to be learned. The more we try to shy away from hard feelings, the more surely they return.

I seek not the positive in them, but rather just to be with them, as part of some balanced whole. After all, the darkness is also part of who I am. And how much more pleasant these days when they follow the hard toil of emotional work.

I have worked really hard these last few weeks! On everything – even sleeping was a labour and a worry. I have worked harder than most ever will. This euphoria is the result of that, the weekend of a strained soul. As a mason who spends years building a new house spends his first night away from the elements by the warmth of a fire, I have gone ways to building a place I can call home inside myself, cultivating safety, self-forgiveness, strength.

Many things – I have worked hard and cleverly. Time to get the peace I deserve!

Believe me when I say there is hope. Even if it does not feel like your good works are being instantly rewarded, by treating yourself well you are putting “money” in life’s wellbeing “bank” (if you will excuse the horribly capitalist metaphor).

I do not think we can fully choose when the results come, but we can open ourselves up to the possibility by living well, being in therapy, finding useful herbs and medicines that work for us, and so forth.

Just know that the good times will come, whatever you have been through. Your self-healing processes are at work if you allow to do their thing, and be patient. Something I struggle with, but am now much learning.

We need Winter for Spring and Darkness for Light. Lessons I am learning, acceptance, being with, silence, patience. As much as I endured the elements, now I must enjoy the fruits.

That is what today is for, and that is what I shall do.