Yesterday, I gave permission to my cells to be alive whenever they want to for no reason whatsoever.
I have spent a lot of time – the majority of my life, really – in a state of depression. In this state, I don’t want to do anything, I only want to consume, books or series or other Gremlin food, and do anything to distract me from what I’m feeling, I want to spend my days with my head stuck under my blankets, I want to wait until I feel better again, I want to run away from whatever it is that’s hunting me.
I don’t feel good in my depression, but I am so afraid of what could or would happen when I stop running away and hiding from what is hunting me that I prefer the safe, the (not really) comfortable, the well-known, the usual, the normal, the numb state of depression. I am so afraid of what I would feel if I stopped running.
When I’m in that state, I can already sense the edge, the shadow of the fear and rage I’m running away from. A fear and a rage so big, so enormous, so gigantic, so massive that I cannot bear them. A fear and a rage so earth-shattering and all-consuming that I’m afraid they might kill me. A fear and a rage that are scary, uncomfortable, unknown, unusual, not normal and, more than anything else, alive.
I already know that running away from those emotions will not make them go away. I already know that the only way to stop feeling depressed is to go through the emotions. I already know that until I do that my life is mostly wasted time, because I simply wait the seconds, minutes, hours, days away until whatever the emotions are about is long gone or the pressure gets so big that I crack under it.
At some point, when the pressure gets too big, when the dam holding them at bay cracks, there’s a moment, when suddenly, the fear and the rage break out and surge into my body, a colossal force of emotion. All along, the decision that I may never allow my fear to have a voice and that I may never allow my anger to have a voice is firmly anchored in myself. Therefore, when I get flooded by those silent emotions, I hold them in, hold them in, hold them IN until it gets so MUCH and something has to GIVE because I can’t BEAR it and I SCREAM, but always, always silently. And I RAGE, but always, always against myself. And the fear and the anger break out of me, they slam through me and want OUT and they need to be kept IN and OUT and IN and OUT and IN and it hurts so much and I need to hurt something but never something else so there’s only myself and I dig my fingernails into the skin of my forearms and – silence. Blessed silence, numbness, peace. And yet, there’s more, more, MORE. More fear, more anger, always together, entwined in each other. And it gets too much and I start to cry and I just don’t know what to do and it hurts and I’m scared and I don’t know.
And sometimes, I decide to just throw it all away and decide to do without whatever led to the emotions, because even though it means I have to sacrifice something it’s still less painful than feeling.
And sometimes, I manage to slip around the emotions and stories and decisions and constructs and trick myself into just starting whatever it is that wants to be done and that causes such fear and then, like a storm that looms at the horizon, coming closer and closer, foretelling inescapable devastation and destruction only to dissipate in the nick of time into clouds which then reveal a sunny sky, all the pressure disappears and it is as if nothing ever happened. Catastrophe avoided – for today.
But sometimes, very rarely, I dive into the fear and the rage, and I break through the unbreakable rule to hold it all IN and I scream and shout and rage and LIVE and emerge on the other side sparkling and feeling and centred and alive. And for some time, I want so many things and am inspired and shoot all voices, I move and feel and change and live.
And yet, the habit of depression is strong, it’s lurking just below the surface, waiting for an opening to pull me under. I fear it and struggle against it and try to run away from it, but inevitably and gradually I start avoiding what I fear, I start listening to the voices that tell me “now really isn’t the time to express this” and “this really isn’t the place to be strange” and “that’s too loud” and “you’re too strange” and “you can always do that later and somewhere else”, I start running away from feeling and hide first in meaningless activity then in stories and books and different worlds, and even though there’s a niggling voice in the back of my head telling me that this is how it starts and I need to do something and I don’t want that and NO, I don’t listen, or maybe I listen but don’t react, because feeling, being loud, being alive is just so dangerous and to be avoided and if I go there I die!
And I hate it and I don’t want it and I fight it nail and tooth and sometimes I can hold the pure anger in my bones and the pure fear in my nerves a bit longer, but every time I slip back and I’ve had enough of that! Never do I want to fall back into depression ever again! I don’t want to be a zombie! I don’t want to waste my life! I don’t want to watch time go by waiting for something to be over! I don’t want to spend my life walking the well-trodden path and doing what’s comfortable and safe because I freeze up as soon as it’s not. I want to live and be and move! I want to plant trees and harvest fruits and vegetables and cook and negotiate intimacy and matter and be present and reduce plastic waste and be sustainable and build with earth and make music and learn languages and travel and teach what I have to teach and make a difference.
And it’s so scary. And doing and being what I already know is so much easier. So much more comfortable. It would be so much safer to give up. To disappear into the depths of depression and numbness and to stand for nothing, with my name never to be mentioned again.
I know what lies at the end of the path if I truly and finally stopped struggling. The end of having to feel and having to live is only one thing – death. That’s an option to consider, and at the same time, it isn’t at all. Giving up seems safer and easier and more comfortable and it is, but it is also not an option. I will not walk that path because I do not want to go where it leads. I don’t have it in me to give up. It’s not part of my box and not part of my being. Had it been, I would’ve surrendered to depression a long time ago.
I can’t give up and I don’t want to be stuck anymore – so what do I do? I can fight depression all I want, but fighting it and giving in to it are two sides of the same coin, they both keep me bound to depression. The only way to break free, to escape this tug of war inside myself is to do so sideways.
Escaping sideways means that I neither give in nor fight. It means going nonlinear. In this case, it means using my fear. Not yielding to the pressure, nor going against it, but rather jumping straight into my fear and following exactly what it tells me about.
I feel sad writing that, because it means I’m giving up my depression. I’m giving up what I’ve known my whole life, how I’ve lived my whole life, how I’ve survived until now. The delicate balance between depression and will to live has allowed me to survive my childhood without being killed and without killing myself. My depression has allowed me to survive and function in this culture, to go to school, to be normal, to fit in and not to overwhelm the people I depended on for survival. As a child, I don’t think my surroundings would’ve known how to handle my undepressed self.
I’m not a child anymore. I survived, now it’s time to live.
Depression, we’re over. Thank you for the time we had, thank you for helping me survive. Living, here I come. Goodness, this is scary. I’m alive!
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