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

Learning is Enough

I don’t know what it is about a toddler that just sucks the life out of me. Actually, toddlers aren’t so bad as long as you stick to an exact routine, never leave the house and always give them what they want.

Let’s face it though – that’s not happening.

Today, I’m worn out from yesterday. We attended a four hour pool party with the toddler. Basically, that is my definition of hell. Maybe its my propensity for anxiety, but I’m terrified the child will drown. Add in that he seems to have no fear of anything and that alone could do me in. Added to all of this was the wonderful opportunity to meet new people. This was a kick-off party for the school year. You know, where everyone knows someone and they are reunited. Unless you are brand new, in which case, you get to meet everyone for the first time…in a swimsuit.

Because we all have so much confidence when wearing a swimsuit.

It was {not} great.

My nerves were on edge the whole time. I tried to stick to my health plan. I felt really proud at the beginning when I ate fruit, veggies and humus instead of fried chicken. Then, the bastards, I mean really awesome planner people that I love, brought out brownies and cookies. After consuming a brownie, I realized I had ventured into stress eating to cope with the environs. I pressed on for another hour, but eventually gave up and we went home early.

I’m not proud of how I handled my anxiety. It occurred to me on the way home that not once did I deep breathe or use any of the coping mechanisms I’ve learned. I knew the day would be stressful and not aligned with my health plan, but did I take any steps to prepare?

Nope, not one.

But I’m learning.

Sometimes, it has to be enough to just learn from an experience. I struggle to let it be, but I’m working on it this time around.

Next time?

I’ll set a timer on my phone to take a break in the bathroom every half hour to breathe. I’ll bring a treat that is on my health plan so that I’m not tempted by brownies and cookies. I might even see if someone else can take the tiger, I mean toddler, for the day.

Yes, sometimes learning has to be enough. After all, if I’m not learning, then how am I evolving and growing?

Good things to remember.

Candidly,

Ash

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

The Chrysalis of Doubt

She was so eloquent and passionate, but I just absolutely, at my core, disagreed. She was almost there; she had part of the truth. She was talking about doubt and how the Shiny, Happy People at churches don’t want us to talk about it. No, not just talk. They don’t even want us to whisper about it.

She said it was dangerous to hide this topic within ourselves. Yes, I agree. Hiding is rarely the answer. Then, she said doubt was the enemy and I cringed. She said there was ]’a war being waged over our belief and that doubt was the enemy. I just couldn’t get  on board. I couldn’t be moved from my foundation. War waging is rarely the answer.

You see, I have doubts and it makes people really uncomfortable around me. I either become a pariah or a project. Pariahs are avoided, unfriended, unfollowed and forgotten. Projects are prayed about and worked on. Neither of those roles is a comfortable one for me, but I’ve decided something recently.

I’m willing to be around people who are uncomfortable with me. I scare people sometimes. I talk about suicide, depression, darkness, pain, fear, ugliness. There are very few boxes here and they are not wrapped in pretty bows and paper. They are tattered boxes, used and crinkly.

They are perfect for playing in, I’ve noticed.

Doubt is a Friend

One of my favorite people that I’ve never met says, “The opposite of faith is certainty.” I think the favorite person might be Brene Brown or it might be Anne Lamott – not really sure. Regardless, it is a fabulous point. If you are certain of something, then how are you having faith?

In the lifecycle of faith, doubt is the chrysalis. In the cocoon of doubt, we can be fully ourselves – angry, fearful, tearful, sad, frightened, confused and absolutely breathtaking. It is the cocoon that people watch with bated breath, wondering what will emerge.

I personally imagine that I emerge an ugly, hideous moth. Ha! I am okay with this now. Moths are infinitely more useful than butterflies. Moths are pollinators just like butterflies and actually account for more of the pollinating action than butterflies. Go figure!

The other thing I love about moths is that they are largely nocturnal. You see them and are annoyed at how they flock to the porch light, I am sure. Yet, I have learned to love darkness. It is my home. There is beauty in darkness, just as there is beauty in the light. There is the darkness that brings solace, that brings rest and dreams. The darkness of caressing couples too. It is not entirely bad, as one might think.

Yes, I am a moth. In my cocoon of doubt, I have stopped fighting. This is only part of the process – to wonder, to guess, to be intrigued. Perhaps it is even the best part. I don’t really know if I will settle on “God exists” or “God is a myth” or ”

God is not concerned with me”. I sort of like being here – in this possibility. I can be all things to all people and connected to all people too. I understand those who believe wholeheartedly, because I have been in that phase of the lifecycle. I understand those who don’t believe, because I have been there too. And I even understand those who believe He is unconcerned, because I am sort of there right now.

All I can say to myself and those who find doubt in themselves is “Good, you are growing, maturing.” If in this lifecycle, you choose to believe or not believe, just remember that cycles repeat and next time you might choose something else. Nothing is forever. Today, I doubt. Tomorrow I might believe. The weight of today and tomorrow is more profound, more enriching when we are honest.

Truth is an evolution. My favorite words.

Candidly,

Ash