I admit that at first I didn't know what to do without my daily dose of game shows and situation comedies. And for the first few days, I tried to cram my schedule with Meetup group events like bowling, lunches, and movies - heck on Wednesday night I actually went to a Toastmasters meeting.
I looked for as much distraction as I could find and it took me until after a Thursday night comedy club event to recognize that I really don't have the energy to be overly busy yet and that maybe I was avoiding the true point of the exercise.
This might sound odd, but I spent the next three days right here where I am now. On my bed. I maybe should qualify this and say that my room has a patio door that leads to my backyard deck where I've also spent much time. And my backyard opens onto a city greenspace forest where a thousand trees were planted (as shown in the photo).
Today is warm and the door is open so I can hear birds singing and the breeze rustling through the leaves on the trees. There's also light rain to listen to and watch.
So here I've been - just me and the dog (sometimes the cat too), while I've read more from books than screens, and I've written more with a pen and paper than a keyboard. And while I might not wholly recommend a couple of days with missed showers while eating only cereal and ramen noodles as I've done, the meditation that has come is something I actually would suggest.
I find the hardest part of my experience now with depression is the tape that repeats in my mind that in spite of my successes and how hard I continue to work to recover, it says - “I am still depressed.”
And that word - still - has a lot of negative connotation as though to say there is a time limit that has passed. It also implies impatience... Still? Really? Get over it already!
That little word also seems to suggest there is or was a fight to be had that I haven't yet won. Well with something like depression where we can agree that we don't know precisely what it is, how it happens or exactly how to remedy it, why am I expected to know how to fight it? And on a time limit no less?
If I take that four-letter word out of that sentence and move it, watch what happens...
I am still depressed.
I am still standing.
Now I've gone from a sufferer to a warrior!
I got to thinking about this after snooping around on YouTube and finding a British “spiritual teacher” named Jeff Foster who has himself experienced depression.
While much of his teaching sounds like many of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of other spiritual advisers on the internet, there is one part of his thinking that caught my attention which is a wordplay idea aimed at changing perspective. I think it's healthy.
Foster said he is struck by how the word depressed sounds a lot like deep rest and he asks us to consider depression not as an enemy but maybe instead as a calling to rest.
He said, “We can view depression not as a mental illness, but on a deeper level, as a profound and very misunderstood state of deep rest entered into when we are completely exhausted by the weight of our false story of ourselves.”
He suggests that depression might be a call telling you that life is not what you think it is because you are not being who you really are. Foster reminds us that symptoms of depression include a loss of interest and maybe it calls to expose to you a loss of interest in the story of pretending to be something you are not. He suggests it is asking you instead to rest in who you really are.
If this is so - then sensitive is who I am. There are no minimizing excuses to be given. It's not something to hide. It's not shameful. I'm not broken. I don't need fixing or changing. I feel deep sorrow and ultimate joy and each moves me profoundly. This is my truth.
In this bigger, better, faster, show no fear world we live in - maybe, just maybe, depression is not punishing me for what I am not, but instead trying to remind me not to loose track of what I am.
Awesome. Thank you Jeff.