For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, it’s not exactly a secret that I struggle with depression. So much of my life is affected by it, in spite of my continued efforts to be well, cope and recover. I think I feel it most heavily in the fall months, as the daylight fades sooner, the weather turns colder and the impending holiday season presses heavier on my already taxed heart.
I wish I could say it gets easier with time, but it doesn’t. Like parenting, as some of the wiser people I’ve talked to say, it just gets different. My coping skills aren’t the best, I fixate on things that I can’t change, trying to will certain things into existence that just simply won’t be. I lament my inability to change the things I want to, languishing in the angst beyond the point where it’s healthy. But I am becoming more aware of this pattern of behavior, and in acknowledging it, it is easier to loosen the grip and let it go.
In addictions counseling, the theory goes that people must hit “rock bottom” in order to truly begin to recover. I’ve bottomed out a few times in my life, and I will say that recovering from mental illness is never as simple as that. Each day is a struggle. Some days are good, some are walking on fire. The problem I encounter is that I must recover alone, because no one can get into my head to fix it for me, nor would I want to wish that nightmare on anyone.
Part of working through one’s issues is the constant need for self-examination, reflection and understanding. I lean heavily on the Buddhist philosophy of the four immeasurables: Loving Kindness, Compassion, Appreciative Joy, and Equanimity. It is through these principles that I work to extinguish my sense of self, the root of my suffering, and to simply be present in the moment, to practice love, compassion and acknowledgement of all things around me, and in doing so, find enlightenment and oneness with the universe.
The struggle is constant, awareness is dire, and the biting sadness and emptiness is ever-present. The point of my recovery that I’m working hard to understand is whether I feel worthy of mental well-being, love, and friendship. Most of my life, I’ve spent feeling unworthy, subhuman, and alone. The small beginnings of worth that manifested in the past have always been reliant on the way others regarded me. The trick I must learn is to value myself for myself, for in doing so, I hope to no longer rely on the opinions of others for my worth.