I am a warrior, and I will fight for my inner peace to the death.
My battle with depression as an adult – thankfully – is not the same as it was when I was 14. 20 years ago (sheesh, 20 years?) I felt I had absolutely nothing to live for. I’d tried cutting my wrists, but my tolerance for pain at the time was very low (it’s amazing, the changes pregnancy and childbirth bring). So I wrote a suicide note to my dad and stepmom and downed a bottle of cold medicine. I thought it’d do the job – instead, it made me sleep all day and gave me a horrible case of diarrhea. When it wore off, my parents drove me to a mental recovery center where I spent the next two weeks trying to understand the source of my depression and looking for ways to cope with it. After another month of weekly visits to a therapist, I felt cured.
Seven years later, I was making a night run to the store while my two year old daughter spent the weekend with her father. As I sat on the train tracks waiting for the light to change, I thought about not moving. I wanted to stay there until the train came along and swept both me and my car into an unrecognizable mass of metal and flesh. I stared at the red light, listening for the whistle, stilling myself to feel the vibration of the train’s wheels against the tracks. The light turned green, and I saw my daughter’s face. Heard hear laugh. I thought about the effect my death would have on my baby girl. My mother became a drug addict and abandoned me when I was eight. The unanswered questions it left me with, the anger, guilt and confusion that I dealt with – still deal with – I saw myself passing that on to my daughter. I eased my foot onto the gas pedal. I didn’t know how I’d do it, but I was going to break that cycle. On that night, my daughter saved my life. And on that night, I learned that depression cannot be cured.
I no longer have suicidal thoughts. That night was the last night. But I still battle with depression on a regular basis. I still deal with hopelessness and a complete lack of motivation – the craziness of this world will make you question what it’s all for. But for me, the questions are the answers. The confusion of life is simultaneously the beauty of life. Curiosity, awareness and the experience of living is what it’s all for. Today, I only go as far as the overwhelming desire to leave all my responsibilities behind and run away. Even then, my children keep me in check; I’d never abandon them. Lord knows having me as a mother is going to give them enough reason to see a therapist.
My oldest daughter (Peachy) is now 15 and battles depression and social anxiety. And sometimes I can’t help but feel like it’s my fault. I understand that depression is genetic. Both my mother and father have it. But they’re both still here. We’re survivors; we find ways. Yet because my parents never discussed their depression with me, I realize it’s up to me to break tradition. I try to do that with Peachy, just let her know that I understand on a real level, what it’s like to be in that space and that you can come out of that space, and use it to heal. She said she’s been meditating, and it’s been helping in her fight to save herself. It brought me so much joy to hear that. Mostly because she’s finally listened to something I said. I didn’t know teenagers did that. I sure didn’t.
But I’m still learning how to be honest with her about my experience when I’m in the thick of my depression. What do I tell her about how I deal with it now? Because lately I haven’t been practicing what I preach.
What I’m going through now, I wouldn’t say is depression. It’s more a very light, sometimey blues. But the thing with depression is that it can down-spiral at any moment. And that’s what you have to be aware of. That’s when you have to armor up. But I’ve noticed myself allowing the enemy to sneak into my camp (sorry, I’ve been binge-watching GoT). I distract myself with television. I stop writing. I haven’t meditated in over a month. I haven’t exercised in almost the same amount of time. I spend all day scrolling my Twitter timeline and cyber window-shopping. This only makes things worse, because I’m focusing too much on needless things.
Aside: I’ve been really distracted by trying to “perfect” my appearance, the image I want to project, with clothing. And it’s really overwhelming, not to mention financially draining. Lately I’ve desired an “all black” wardrobe. I think it’s due to a combination of factors: working around architects all day. That’s ALL they wear. It’s actually kind of sexy though. Black has the ability to make you both stand out and fade into the background. And there’s also the fact that I really want to be a witch. Thank you American Horror Story: Coven for reawakening that dream.
Anyway, I slowly feel myself coming out of it. I’m making minor attempts to get back to me. I’m counting down the days until my trip to Miami where I’ll get to sit on the beach and commune with La Siren for the first time in six years. And I’m taking steps to eating healthy again. I’ve given up chocolate (pray for me yall! Light a candle or something), and sodas, and I’m trying to incorporate more fruits and veggies into my diet. I lose myself in a book. It helps to read others’ lives, other people’s internal and external battles. It makes me feel connected, even if the characters are products of someone’s imagination. For the purposes of my healing, they’re real. These are the things that I know work for me.
My relationship with writing both contributes to and treats my depression. When I’m depressed, I avoid it, even though I know it’ll help. Just a paragraph of a journal entry can make me feel better. But when I write something to submit and it gets rejected, I feel lost. I doubt myself. And I stop writing for a while, and that cycles back into depression, which makes me not want to write. But I always come back to it. So I’m learning that writing for me, and not for public consumption, is where my peace comes from. Thus, I’ve committed myself to writing a little bit every day, and only sharing when and where I feel comfortable.
Listening to my soul’s calling and really paying attention to the things that bring me joy, the things that bring me peace, are my way of fighting. They’re my way of taking care of me and my girls. Because that’s all that I really want for my life: joy, peace of mind, happy kids and the ability to travel. All these other distractions are not for me. Not on a spiritual level, anyway. Saving the world, the simultaneous act of trying to run towards and shy away from a spotlight, feeling accomplished and successful (by whose standards?), it’s all ego. And the more I feed the ego, the more my spirit starves. And that’s where my depression kicks in.
If you’re not careful, this world will deprive you of your sanity, and it’ll take great pleasure in it. It will make you believe that you’re weak because you’re not like the rest of them. Right now, there’s so much focus on the superficial, and not enough respect for or push towards emotional intelligence or spiritual growth. It’s intentional. We live in an ego-driven society. And if you’re not with the program, the world will threaten to leave you behind. But the truth of the matter is, the more you work on your soul’s calling, the more attention you give your intuition, the more awareness of your higher self, the farther ahead you are.
My survival, and the wellness of my children depends on my ability to filter the constant messages the world sends me, and use that which feeds my soul and keeps the ego in check.
“Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.”
I am a warrior raising warriors. And we will fight to the death.
Maybe that’s what I should tell Peachy. Apparently, she listens…