When you’re lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost. For the longest time, you can convince yourself that you’ve just wandered off the path, that you’ll find your way back to the trailhead any moment now. Then night falls again and again, and you still have no idea where you are, and it’s time to admit that you have bewildered yourself so far off the path that you don’t even know from which direction the sun rises anymore.
– Elizabeth Gilbert
As much as I love words, they are often the most difficult thing for me to find. Words are how I make sense of things. Writing is how meaning comes into fruition for me. But then I fall into this low: this depressive state that I see as a puzzle – a maze of sorts – that I have to find my way out of again and again. The length of this period varies, depending on my resistance towards it, my environment, the people I surround myself with, and how I decide to spend my time alone.
I’ve realized throughout my experience with depression that I have to stop letting myself drown so deep while at the same time, allowing myself to sink inside of it. I have to spend more time with people who I feel safe and seen around. But what comes tumbling down is often those same relationships. So how do I manage it? Well, I have to first admit that there are many moments that I don’t. Most of the time, I just want to quit everything. I want so badly to diminish into thin air. To become a part of the sky – nothing and everything. Finally connected.
Because in reality, my understanding of depression is a disconnection. It is when I feel that my life is no longer valid or important. That this is all I will ever feel. That no one else is experiencing this same thing because they are ‘normal’. That there is no end. And the more disconnected I feel, the more distant I become which just brings the entire experience to a full circle. Depression is a resistance to feel. An everflow of numbness that seemingly has no end. So how to get out of this pattern of circularity? Feel. I allow myself to feel again to prove that I can survive that wave of emotion. Only then am I reminded that I can survive myself.
Distance and disconnection are both structures we create to withhold our feelings. They are walls we build to keep ourselves safe when everything feels fragile, broken, explosive, or weak. My depression is both a physical and an emotional experience. I’m often found shaking, crying, low energy which is all on my own time. What I show to the world, however, is that everything is fine. No one should know how I feel because not even I can make sense of it so how will they? And anyone who experiences mental health problems knows that there is also this enormous weight of guilt that surrounds it. It affects your loved ones just as much as it affects you, so it’s almost easier to pretend like you are fine.
But there is greatness I have found from making it past these periods of my life. That whenever they are finished and have taught me what they were here to teach, I will come out brand new. There is a new set of eyes I am given to see this world with. A new lens to filter my vision. A re-wiring, this feels like. A death and rebirth maybe.
All I know each time it comes is that it will also pass and I will be different. Somehow that is enough.