It’s been a strange few weeks in my world…Faced with a lot of transition in the present and with more transition on the horizon, I’ve found myself in yet another phase of uncomfortable uncertainty. Change and the unknown are nothing new to me, and you would think I’d have gotten used to the awkward twists and turns I willingly choose to write into my story by now. But this time feels different because I know deep down that things will work out, yet I’m still feeling uneasy. The past year instilled in me the concept of trusting the universe. This conviction that things will be okay seems to have calcified into the marrow of my twenty-five-year-old bones. Some name that knowledge “God,” I’m not sure what to call mine yet—I don’t know that it needs to be named. In fact, lately, I keep uncovering evidence of the ways language can trap things in cages that are meant to be free. “It’s very likely that the universe is really a kind of a question, rather than the answer to anything,” said philosopher Kevin Kelly on a podcast I listened to recently. I’m coming to realize that there doesn’t always have to be an answer, name, or diagnosis for the things that perplex us—like a tiger in the jungle compared to a tiger pacing behind bars in a zoo, some things are more magical left untamed.
For the first time in my life, I am coming to understand depression. A friend of mine told me that, someday, her memoir will be called “A Roadmap to Getting Out of Your Own Way”. I believe most us would line up to purchase it, eager to learn how we can make ourselves do the things we already know we should do. I think it is safe to say that most of us struggle to go the gym or put the bag of chips away regardless of the fact that we know it would be good for us, that it’s what we need to do—this seems to be part of the human condition. Where I’ve found the distinction between this part of the human condition and what we call depression, is that depression makes it difficult to do the things you actually want to do. Spending time with friends that you know will make you smile, sitting outside in the sun rather than inside on your couch…the things that usually come easy become harder, as if the connection between your mind and body isn’t working quite right.
I’m thankful to have been experiencing this. I’m learning. I’m sitting with it. I’m digging a hole through my mind a thousand miles deep, trying to find the roots of this ugly tree. Perhaps I’m at last starting to ride the reverberating waves of sorrow after losing a dear friend. Maybe losing her a year after losing someone else I loved was just too much to swallow—nothing breaks my heart more than realizing that life in many ways, is a series of tremendous loves and losses. I do think these losses and this awareness are contributing to my funk, but I also know there is more to it. For the first time in a long time, I have a lot of free time on my hands, which is creating space for my worries and emotions to settle and be digested. I have a lot of unanswered questions about what the future holds for me. Depression is in my family and my blood. Maybe I’ve just created the right environment for it to finally germinate.
Busy body that I am, I’ve been tempted to fill my empty schedule with meetings and social commitments—I’ve certainly done some of that. But I’m proud to say I’ve opted to slow it down more than I usually would. I’ve spent my days off waking up to my body’s internal clock, rather than my cell phone’s alarm clock. I’ve eliminated the option of scrolling mindlessly on social media by keeping my Instagram application deleted most of the time. I’ve spent some time outside on sunny days. I’ve been making my way to the yoga mat every day, which has been the most therapeutic thing I’ve invested in so far. I’ve been reading. Today, I’m writing. I recognize confidently that the level of depression I’m experiencing is low on the spectrum, and I am very thankful for that. That said, I am still in control of my thoughts and actions, and have the choice to acknowledge and tune into what I’m feeling in order to get through and past it, rather than hurry through, dismiss, and ignore it.
I think some of the natural depression we all feel stems from being forced to let go of our ideals and expectations. I grew up thinking there was a path for me to follow, a simple formula by which to live my life. A rebellious, adventurous, questioner like me pokes and prods at the formula relentlessly until adulthood meets your gaze and tears your roadmap to shreds, leaving you to spend your twenties attempting to glue the puzzle pieces back together. Eventually, you come to the understanding that the roadmap was an illusion to begin with and you have no choice but to forge your own path—it was just someone’s attempt at putting “life” into a box it doesn’t belong in. The beauty of it is that we’re all learning to wander around with scraps in our pockets, letting ourselves be guided through our lives by questions, love, and connection instead.
I don’t think we should be afraid to talk about these things. In fact, the less we talk about them, the more isolated we all feel, and the more stigmatized these things become. It’s normal to feel too much. It’s normal to be afraid. It’s normal not to know what to do. It’s normal to know what you need to do and not do it. It’s normal to know what you want to do, and not feel up to it. It’s normal to know that things are going to be okay, but not feel okay just yet. “Normal” is just another instance of language making things more complicated than they need to be. We made that word up: “normal”. Feelings are real, whereas words are manmade, synthetic. What does it feel like to be you? That’s what’s normal. I love to write because it allows me to share my experience with you and discover how much we have in common, but the only way I know to do that is by using words—words that are clumsy and inadequate in so many ways. You may disagree with the way I name things and that’s okay with me, it’s besides the point I’m trying to make. If you can relate to this post in any way, I’d love to have a conversation with you. Write me a letter, send me a message, and I promise I’ll get back to you as soon as I’m ready.