Depression and Other Mixed Metaphors

Sometimes in yoga class I write blog posts in my head instead of meditating. Meditation is hard, but so is stringing together words and honestly, what is writing if not a form of meditation on existing? It’s a blatant cop out, sure, but when the mood strikes and you’re caught pen-less it’s all you can do to keep those ideas contained until you can locate a napkin and a broken crayon.

Tonight as I lay on my mat in a warm, dark, familiar room, I waged a silent battle with myself. It’s one I’ve fought many times, and yet it always comes as an ambush. I realized that I was falling, or at least in real danger of falling, into darkness. Again.

I know this road, the one where all the whispers must be about you and your failures. The one where you don’t leave the house for three days because the idea of interacting with another human feels unbearable. Where you sleep until 2pm because what would be the point in doing otherwise? This is the road where you convince yourself to give up your gym membership because everyone there hates you anyway—but that can’t be true.

Do I think everyone hates me because I hate me?

THERE. That’s the foothold.

The second I catch depression in its tracks is the moment that I know I have a fighting chance here. The operative word here is ‘fighting’. Because that’s what this is. This is a lifelong battle with my own goddamned mind. It’s a pain that evades description, it isn’t a stabbing, an aching, a burning sensation. No, I cannot rate my pain on a scale of one to ten, No, I cannot show you where it hurts.

This is a pain which forces you into withdrawal, in which you can feel yourself peeling away from the good habits, the daily minutiae that keep you moored. I know that I feel better when I eat, when I work out, when I call my sister. That doesn’t mean I can always will myself to do those things. Sometimes it’s easier not to.

Depression is like…a weighted blanket. And not just because I don’t truly understand how either of

Black Sand Beach, Hana, Maui

them work. I mean, that’s a little bit it but LET’S STICK WITH THE METAPHOR, OKAY?

Alright. So depression is like one of those weighted blankets, the kind that I’m convinced are basically designed to simulate being smothered to death. I feel like you’re more likely to be smothered to death by a cat than you are a weighted blanket but roll with me here. Let’s try this again.

Depression is like a weighted blanket. Because my depression is familiar to me, it’s comfortable, it feels safe. It isn’t safe, not even a little bit, but I’ve been sharing my brain’s real estate with it for so long it feels like it must be harmless. Like a weighted blanket must feel safe. It is known, it is felt, it is familiar. The weight of that blanket must be something you get accustomed to, to the point that you might not even realize it’s there. Except when you try to kick the damn thing off in the middle of the night and probably end up with a foot cramp.

Why fight it then? Why not just stick one foot out from under the blanket and accept your rapidly increasing body temperature? Surely that’s easier. But what’s easier isn’t always the best choice. In this life, we will do many hard, scary, incredible things. Keeping depression at bay is one of those things.

The battle is a quiet, bloodless one, no guts, no glory. But that does not make it any less noble. The battle is fought because this world is hard, scary and incredible. Because we are lucky enough to be a part of it, to be able to see it, to feel it, to breathe it, to be astounded by it to the point of tears. Just because the battle is nearly silent and often secret (though my hope is that it needn’t be) does not make it any less worth the fight. A small, quiet life has the same value as a big life lived out loud and in full public view. A life is a life is a life.

TL;DR: There are always footholds in the darkness. Keep climbing.