Victory through Depression

Victory over depression. Those were the words that triggered me. 

You see, I tried that for a really long time – to rise up, to fight. 

But there are some battles that can’t be won through fighting. My victory over depression doesn’t look like life going back to normal. My victory looks like everything changing.

Depression taught me. It taught me to listen, to surrender. It taught me to appreciate the unknown, value the  hidden. 

From the moment I entered therapy, I was counseled that my depression was a mystery – not a battle, not a problem, not a crucifix. 

It has felt like a crucifix. It has felt like a problem. It has felt like a battle. 

It has always been a mystery, a mystery I value. 

When someone says “victory over depression”, I must shake my head negatively and say – 

Victory through depression. 

Candidly, 

Ash

No Emergency Exit Here

I wish I had something insightful to say. I wish I could cull something deep and meaningful to the surface.

I do not have insight.

Today, I sat on my bed staring out the window in a haze of apathy. On the same window, I noticed a sticker that says “For Emergency Exit”. It basically tells how to open the window.

I was struck by the words, because I have wanted to exit life. Life has felt like a plane dive-bombing due to lost engines – full emergency mode.

But there are no emergency exits here.

So my insight today is that life sucks. Things feel bleak. I suppose this is depression.

Hello, old friend.

Candidly,

Ash

Honor the Girl Inside

I used to push through things. Difficult things. Easy things. Dwelling on problems or negatives didn’t solve anything. I had to keep going.

After my stay in the hospital that all changed. In therapy, I was able to recognize that part of the reason I wanted to end it all was that I had pushed through things too many times. I was living a life that I didn’t want.

For most of the time since then, going on four years, my goal has been to listen to myself and honor the things I feel. For several years, this meant waking up to suicidal thoughts, sharing them with my husband and him staying home or calling a friend to stay with me. It hasn’t been an easy road.

These days, I don’t wake with suicidal thoughts very often. I believe a steady practice of listening to myself has helped me create a life I want to live.

Like (probably) many people, I still have days when I wake up without motivation, not wanting to do the things the day requires of me. Today was one of those days. It has me walking around sad, consuming caffeine to feel strong and equipped for the next thing. It hurts to push myself, but maybe sometimes that is okay?

Harder than pushing myself is discovering what I need, because it feels incredibly like something is missing. So I go through the motions and I try to listen to the sway of my feelings, while still keeping up with the day. I find this to be infinitely harder than the pushing onward.

Honoring the girl inside.

THAT is the real struggle in these days.

Mysteries of Sadness

The sky is cloudy today and that is how my heart feels. Clouds of sadness come and go.

Why am I even sad?

I wonder if I am the only one who experiences mysterious sadness. I don’t even know where it comes from until I sit with it for like ten hours. Perhaps that is how badly I had boxed in my sadness. I used packing tape on all sides of that box.

I wonder if there will ever come a time when all of my past sadness stops bubbling to the surface.

As I sit with this sadness today, I know it is about being enough. I have seen other children grow so that their autism doesn’t affect things as dramatically as Evan. I have stood next to moms and hashed out the problems. I have done the things they have done.

But he isn’t cured. He isn’t healed.

And I can’t help wondering if it was me.

Maybe I didn’t push hard enough, try enough.

Maybe it’s me.

Maybe I don’t have to buy into those thoughts.

But what would that even look like?

I cannot say.

Candidly,

Ash

Tam Vanam?

By: Ashley Kaylor

for Evan, my ray of heaven

 

it feels like a desperate black hole

a pit of apathetic hunger

Unassuaged by the sustenance of Life

 

How deep the need, the

Disparaging Ruin

a race Unwon , a life Unhewn

 

burning hot tears scald cheeks grown cold

Mists and steam rise from the pain

an Ice-like Vise around my chest

the droplets fall Uncaressed

 

where have you gone?

what have I lost

bright horizon, dissipating fog

all tied to one ray of Heaven now sacrificed

 

the garish abyss of lessened demand

‘Tis a Principle to withstand

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Shape of Emptiness

When was the first time you felt empty? When did you notice a void in your life? I think these attributes – emptiness, meaninglessness, void – they can be feelings too. I remember the first time I felt meaningless. I had gotten in trouble for something and was sent to my room. I felt so badly that I took a belt down in my closet and tried to hit myself with it. I want to say that this memory was about the age of eight, but I fear it may have been even younger.

Emptiness came later. I was in at least eighth grade. I sat desperately reading  my Bible, devotional journals. I was looking to God to fill a hole in my heart. I wish my faith, my devotion had filled that hole, but there was a problem with that pursuit.

The hole wasn’t God-shaped.

There is a saying I’ve heard at some point in my life (not sure when or where). It goes, “Everyone has a God-shaped hole inside of them.” Perhaps that is why I devoted so much time and energy to pursuing him early on.

I thought God would fix me.

Now, in my head, I hear an angelic chorus singing, “God didn’t fix you, because you didn’t need fixing.” Okay, not an actual chorus, but it is what I imagine a good Christian would say or think while reading this story. I really wish that they would be right – that I don’t need fixing. I really do.

Some Things Remain Broken

If there is anything that I have learned from adulthood, then it is that some things can’t be repaired. I have seen it with our son’s autism, my mental health and our finances. I imagine a lot of people would simply say that I’ve lost hope. I don’t think that is true, because, believe me, I really dream of waking up to my son’s words and songs. I dream of a year in which depression does not affect me 330 days out of 365. I dream of a world in which we have a home to live in with a mortgage we are able to pay.

Oh yes, I hope.

Yet, I would be stupid not to prepare for a future in which my son needs full-time care. Facts are facts. If he hasn’t spoken by the age of nine, then things aren’t looking good for independent living. My depression? They say that the first time you have a season of depression that you should remain on medication for at least a year. The second bout of depression should be met with 3-5 years of medication. The third time? You should remain on medication for life. They also classify your depression as MAJOR and a legit DISORDER. I qualify for lifetime medication. I.E. This is thing is MAJOR and DISORDERED.

Some things remain broken. My friend has a dead plant in the landscaping at her new house. Initially, she thought to pull the ugly sucker out and replace it with something pretty. Then, she texted me a picture of it and said, “I’m keeping it”. You see, for her (and me) the dead plant reminds us that ugly and beautiful coexist, pain and joy coexist. Perhaps broken and whole can coexist too.

Sitting with Emptiness

In my life, I’m learning to sit with emptiness. You see, I’ve realized that I’ve been trying to fill it for years and years. I’ve tried relationships, careers and jobs, schooling, children, religion, success, popularity, leadership, etc. The truth is that I’ve been trying to fill the empty space with a square puzzle piece.

I’m guessing my emptiness is upwards of a dodecahedron. That’s the largest 3D shape I can recall.

**Excuse me, I just looked up the spelling for dodecahedron and discovered it is actually a polyhedron. Are polyhedrons different than 3D shapes? What is a polyhedron? More than one face, my search tells me. Well, I’ve concluded that most, if not all, 3D shapes are polyhedrons. Geometry has never been my strong suit. Is this geometry? God, I hope so. End digression.**

You can’t fill your emptiness until you understand it, know its dimensions. In order to know those things, you can’t be trying to solve for ‘X’ or running back and forth with objects to randomly fill the space. You have to stop. Be present.

Experience emptiness.

And all I have to say about experiencing emptiness is this….

Damn it! Pain is coming, confusion is coming. This is going to hurt like hell!

Panic aside…

Pain is a teacher. Confusion isn’t a crucifix. And Hell was made for rebels.

Candidly,

Ash

P.S. I wrote this post while listening to “Hold On” by Sarah McLachlan.

 

I Have Made Peace with the Darkness

**The following is a piece I wrote almost a year-and-a-half ago. For today’s throwback Thursday, I’m remembering a time when it seemed depression was lifting. At the time, I felt a great deal of anxiety. These days, I would say that I am still making piece with darkness and the light is still blindingly garish. I suppose I’ve made peace with knowing that peace is an ongoing process. Hope you enjoy!**

I Have Made Peace with the Darkness.

It is the light I fear.

Lately, I have begun to see the light in the distance. Maybe its temporary. Mood swings have always been swift tides. At three o’clock in the morning, I might feel excitement, almost euphoria, at a new revelation brought on by lack of sleep and significant pondering. By seven o’clock in the morning, I want to die and can’t be alone or care for my children. That has been my life for a long time.

I did not want to meet the day.

I still have those moments. Recently, in fact. Yet, something is smoothing the turbid waters. A slowing of my spirit and soul. Consistency in the tides.

I dare not call it hope. It feels much different, as though I am exchanging one shadow for another. Depression and I have become friends. We’ve made peace. He’s here to stay and I am no longer surprised by his appearance. I am accustomed to this shadow, the darkness behind me.

It is the light on my face that is surprising, blinding. I am like Peter Pan looking for his shadow, confused at where it has gone, only to see it again momentarily on the wall in front of me…or is it behind me. Why is the light so bright? Where is my shadow friend? There he is! No wait, that’s something different.

I’ve come to know the name of my new friend. Now that I can feel his presence, I’ve asked his name.

{I am anxiety} He said.

We are not friends yet. He moves too fast. Coming and going, triggering and trapping. Where is he leading? Do I go there too?

I’ve read and re-read my notes from my therapy program. It seems depression has to do with the past, our darkest times. Anxiety is connected to our future, our light. He is the shadow when the light dawns.

My question then is whether High Noon will ever come. The moment when all the shadows are gone.

But perhaps that is only anxiety talking. Whether, what if’s.

Deep down, I know the truth in my soul.

High noon will come. {And pass.}

The sun always goes down. The shadows always reappear. The darkness always finds us. It is the ebb and flow of nature pointing to something archaic in my soul. Something that belongs to all mankind.

Growth happens in the darkness and the light. Some beings require more of one than the other. Shade plants, plants in Full Sun, etc. We know the only places plants do not grow – in full light, in full darkness, the nether regions – arctic and Antarctic.

Deeper still, growth is a cycle. The plant, the animal – they have no destination. Once gone, the ground of their resting place is made fertile.

New life begins again.

Day and night. Day and night. Day and night.

We return to the ground.

New life begins.

This is the rhythm my soul knows. My mind is learning it still. My new shadow has come.

Yes, I have made peace with the darkness. Now, I must make peace with the light.

Candidly,

Ash