Confessions of a Reformed Depressive
Question: This week the question for my column comes from myself. I haven’t featured a personal inquiry in my Q&A before, which after some thought made no sense. I’m on as much a quest for insight as anyone, and somehow in opening myself up to that observation, I decided to share.
I’ve been wondering why I’m not very emotional lately. In fact, life has been so level that I wondered if I’m depressed. Except that life is good. I’m relaxing into it. I’m challenging myself in needed directions and flowing with the insecurities and jubilation such new territory brings. So why am I not overrun with emotion about this newfound stability? I am feeling. There is no lack of feeling…
Then I considered… what if this is the way life is when your neurotransmitters are finally balanced? What if this balanced state is the way functional polarity feels? Given my history of chronic depression, it would make sense that I don’t recognize it. Whatever it is, it’s manifesting in livelihood, productivity, motivation, the ability to feel comfortable creating myself as I want to be and not as I feel I should be, for others or for my contrived self. Life really is pretty good.
Realizing that fact, I’m left pondering: how much of depression is habit? How much of it was me getting to this point of balance before, sensing the lack of drama, and creating one to fill the FEELINGS void? What I’m noticing is that I don’t act out of emotion anymore. I no longer REact to everything predominantly at an emotional level, and that is saying a lot for a Moon girl (I’m a Cancer). I spent my early life’s development priding myself on my ability to feel beyond empathy (to feel others as if perceiving their feelings) to connecting directly with the feelings of others. I took on so much crap that wasn’t mine, and what was mine I dressed up in lace and had tea parties with (I’m dead serious here– I used to personify my feelings as invisible playmates and talk with them). For me sliding into the feeling state of all things and walking around in their shoes (I do love shoes) was a way of life. Even my own emotional dynamics I played and replayed so many times my synaptic response couldn’t have been anything BUT a seratonin rut. I gave it nowhere else to go, even when it asked. I don’t fault myself too much for that masochistic behaviour. That learning process and heightened state of being sensitized me to parts of life and myself that I would have been too insecure to feel otherwise.
Other aspects of an All-Feelings existence are becoming very clear too. Quite often I have thrived on the feelings more so than the person, the situation, or the occasion. The result of being more tuned into the sensation of an experience than with the experience itself is not living in the present. This sinister technique delays feeling until after-the-fact. It’s a means of staying caught in the cycle of processing and recycling the feeling, and never really connecting or knowing the person, the event, etc. In truth, it’s a means of never connecting with real feelings, and an elaborate way of saying I was a drama queen. I’m not anymore. I’m lighter, leaner, burning on at least more cylinders, and living really well. So it is no wonder that at this very balanced place in my life I am looking around and seeing that I am not re-creating any drama to thrive on. I am connecting with the people, the places, the events, the situations. All there is is Now. And in my self-obsessed history of dramatic flare, I find I have the nerve to consider it dull. The extreme highs and lows I always thought were inspirational, motivational and cathartic (and they truly were) were also gutting me from the inside out. I don’t have to split myself open to be creative anymore. I don’t have to have my life upheaved, or be constantly bowled over by passionate waves to realize how good I’ve got it or how deeply in love I am with my personal life.
It’s ironic that when I reach the mental health goal in life that I have wanted, my reaction is to assume that because it doesn’t meet a projected (and inflated) outcome, something’s wrong. Hypnotherapy has it right-on with the idea that we play tapes over and over until we learn:
- that the pattern is indeed a tape,
- that we can stop playing the tape, and that
- we can either come up with a new program to follow, or *gasp* pursue free will
I am catching myself in the act of putting in the same tape. Because there is no drama, I think I must be cutting off from my feelings, when in reality I’m very happy and choosing to live out of more of my Self than just emotion. I am living out of sensation, intentional thought formation, co-creation, my soul… Most of us can recognize the point where we have the option to go in a different direction. It’s the point that feels like freedom and sheer panic all at once. It is the greatest moment of power we can have as humans. The ancients called that moment alchemy— the magickal point of integration between opposites combining to produce something new. The thing is, because we don’t arm ourselves with the knowledge of What Comes Next, we stick the same tape in and keep on going. Why? It’s familiar. It’s easy. It’s comfortable, even if deep down we know it’s not working.
Not this time. I have nothing to recreate. I have battled depression my entire life for a plethora of reasons. Not one of those reasons is as powerful as I am. Throughout my life I experienced a space that my spirit teachers referred to as The Great Sadness, this fiery well, the overwhelming presence of all emotion of all beings at once consuming. This space felt like tapping into the collective consciousness of all suffering. I realize now that this dimensional space is a place we all pass through on the way to What Comes Next, and that I do not have to contribute to that well anymore. In that wisdom I create the space within myself to welcome new healthy ways of processing my feelings and living the experience of life through All That I Am, not just All That I Care To Perceive of Myself. Moreover, instead of discarding my feelings now for being less because they are not so charged, I value them more because I am in a more level place to find my truth through them. I am in a more stable place to honor the truth around me.
Depression is nothing if not a refiner of perspective, and I can now raise my teacup in toast to my having an abundance of that. I know now what feelings are mine and what ones aren’t. The world inside me and the world outside me are finally safe enough places for me to experience The Present.