Like so many people who rarely admit it, I live in a cloud of depression. My mind is wired to naturally be what is understood to be ‘depressed’. It is a state of being that is medicated, urged away, escaped and to be rid of; forever, hopefully. Our culture does not deem it normal to live with one’s depression. At best, it must be managed, as it is a pliable thing one can shape.
The last 4 years have made me understand that I simply must try to find ways to integrate my depression into my life and my soul so that it is honoured and made to be productive. I am quite tired of trying to rid myself of this depression. It is like a dark skinned Sri Lankan trying to will away his/her dark skin. The solution is so simple – see dark skin as human and beautiful. Why can’t depression have a place alongside horsey, over the top Instagram happiness?
There are glorious aspects to depression. It causes me to be careful of my health, my soul and my work. Taking care is a good quality, right?!
I get to see inside fellow depressives and their fragile souls. A person’s vulnerability is their most precious gift. It requires trust and an interchange of tenderness. Not every one is that privileged.
Depression has been the creative force behind a great many artists and their works. J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series, Kurt Cobain spoke for almost an entire generation and Virginia Woolfe got us wanting a room of our own.
As I am in no way classically talented, or able to generate a market for the fruits of my depression, I need to find my own ways to weave my depression into who I am. I have wasted so much time, money and energy trying to eradicate my depression. It has been worse than futile; it has near destroyed me.
How does one do that? In my case, by taking inspiration from other cultures and finding out how depression gets legitimate air time in sanctioned ways. Russian men drink their depression into vodka sessions, Singaporeans go for comfort heritage foods, Malays cook their blues, Indonesians devote themselves to prayer and the British find solace in wry satire. Hindus have a pantheon of human like gods who get angry, feel joy and stuff up. Buddhists see any state of the soul as merely steps to enlightenment! It is all part of the journey.
So, why do we have this industry devoted to pulling us out of depression, keeping depression away and making us permanent residents of the state of happiness? I suppose this unnatural goal is much like the skin whitening, religious purity, diet and beauty industries. Constant reaching for an ideal that is imagined and largely unachievable for most of the population. It is a money spinner for many.
I have tried everything to numb, escape, deny, and kill my depression. In effect, I have really just done those things to a large part of myself. If I did these things to another human, I’d be up on charges. Many of them. To atone for my crimes against myself, I have decided to do self service; you know, like community service. When I am not at work, I am doing whatever I can to be self kind, self nurturing and allowing my depression to talk to me.
My depresssion loves to talk to me. It has so much to say. I guess it will talk for a while, because it had been voiceless for so long. It will get tired and need to rest. If it needs to sing, I’ll let it choose the music. If it needs to cry, I provide the sad movies. It takes so much less energy to let it be, when I can.
If I am fortunate, I might find a productive use for the depression. To put it to work would be fabulous.