How could I be away from my blog for so long and then come back and not explain why. Or even worse, not come back with a topic of importance or of substance.
Sure I could just say being a working mother of a now one year old is just busy. That would be completely true.
Something else that’s incredibly true is that I have dealt with anxiety, chronic loneliness and depression my entire life. If you’ve ever experienced depression you know it is a beast. It is a pitch black, suffocating state of mind. You have to force yourself with all your might to lean your body up and swing your legs over the side of the bed, rise to your feet and face the uncertain day ahead.
Depression tells you, you’re worthless. You’re taking up space, speaking words into the air, and walking a top this earth in vain. You do nothing noteworthy, positive or productive. Rather the opposite. You destroy everything you touch. It’s better you weren’t included, around, in the way, here at all. You dislike yourself. This skin doesn’t feel like home. This mind is tormenting and won’t quiet, you just can’t get away. The piece of you we call a soul is trapped. On the inside of the glass you’re screaming to escape this person you are. That you have become.
Depression tells you, you have no goals. Why? Because you aren’t capable of having them. Because you are not worthy of the success nor the journey there. Because who cares, anyway. Because what’s the point of trying. You’re a failure. It’s hardwired into your very being. Misfortune has clung to your back, and you know better than to drag that around all while keeping your hopes up. What you used to look forward to tackling, is dreaded and maybe not approached at all. You can’t swallow another inevitable defeat.
Depression tells you, you’re dry, uninspiring, plain and talentless. Your hobbies no longer call your name. A blank paper doesn’t speak to you. Your sketch pad is starting to dust. You can’t put anything down. The part of your brain that used to produce color, light, expression, articulation of your heart, is closed. Bullied into silence by the depression. Unable to escape and create again. A melancholy head hung low, there’s no ideas flowing where they once used to bloom wildly without restriction.
Depression tells you to isolate. Because holding a conversation, especially some superficial small talk, is agonizing. You simply have nothing to say. You have no words, only this grey and clouded on going feeling of emptiness. How do you say that? Why would you say that? It is nobody’s burden but your own. Your very own heavy and humiliating burden. You could spend all day with people who mean well, and end up in bed on your side, nearly physically pained by the distance between you and the world. The loneliest feeling you’ve ever had could hit you like a semi truck by bedtime the very same day.
This year, politics made me more aware than ever that I mother a black child. Who will grow into a black man. Politics also constantly remind me of my mortality, and the mortality of the people I love the very most in the world- the most perfect and deserving people I will ever know in my lifetime. This year, I lost my oldest brother in a sudden accident. This year, I started and stopped my attempt at starting up a term of college due to this loss. This year I was confronted with many health issues, which left me with no physical energy to push through my lack of mental and spiritual energy. This year I was initially turned down a promotion I had been bending over backwards for. This year, I continuously fought tooth and nail to take steps forward, only to trip on unsteady ground and end up further from my goals. This year was a breeding ground for my mental illnesses to conjure themselves up and tackle me hard.
This year, there was a lot of tears. I often said, “I’m fine.” Or, “I’m just tired.” This year, there was a lot of quiet days. There was a lot of days in bed, or up late, looking at the ceiling. There was a lot of confusion and sadness. Most days being a mommy, being a girlfriend, being a friend, being an employee was extra hard, because being myself was a struggle in itself.
Now here we are, and I’m so thankful that my mental space has improved. Very recently actually. That means admitting the majority of this year I’ve been underneath something. But I’m rising through the soil now.
You might be curious what happened between then and now.
Lots of crying. There were ted talks. There was music. Then, I just started to talk to myself. I had so many questions.
“who ARE you? Why the hell are you like this? Why are you sad?” “Why are you dissatisfied?” – “Of these problems, what can you solve, what can you control?” “Why have you given these situations your power? Why have you given this depressionyour power?”
At first, I didn’t have the answers, but I was persistent. I needed the answers. So hours were then days, and days to weeks, and weeks to months. I started to develop some ideas. I started to identify my problems as what they were- problems. Who I am isn’t the problem. I started to slowly reach for and steal my power back. I craved it more than anything. I realized I needed it. I realized it belonged to no one else and nothing else but me. It was the only key made to open this door- to get out, to get through.
My healing and growth wasn’t perfect. I’m not perfect. It was messy, it was hard, it was desperate.
I want to speak to those who have heard what depression says.
You are of immeasurable value. Even at your worst. You are a one of a kind being, and without you, the world is missing a piece of light. Your words has changed someones day, changed someones life and are missed when you go too long without saying more. You are a flawed human walking among others of the same condition. Some just hide it better. Embrace the scratches and burns, for this is what it’s like to feel. To lose, so you that value your wins. For trials and errors, so you’re better prepared for your prizes and breakthroughs. You are in progress. Beautiful, messy, sloppy progress. A better you is always on the way.
The depression is it’s own thing. Meaning, it’s not you. Weeping and weak is not YOU. you are a flame that burns all the time, sometimes quietly, subtlety, even when you aren’t a blaze. You aren’t lost or forgotten, you aren’t helpless, you aren’t damned. You are still the bright and brilliant, you are just underneath the soil. This is your harvesting, not your burial.
The only way out of this is through this. You’ll ask, who am I? Where am I? This is a conversation and a search that only you can complete. Engage yourself in expressive activities, even if all you express is this muck you feel. Get it out. Just like the vomit after food poisoning, if you have to sit down and write a shitty poem about the cinder blocks on your shoulders, do that. If you have to listen to the sad songs. Feel and relate. Reflect. Where are you dissatisfied in life? Zone into these areas, and embrace letting go and change. Whatever’s necessary to make your life a beautiful place to you. Often the stagnancy we experience is because we aren’t shedding parts of our lives or ourselves that are necessary to get to the next level.
Although the solitude and ability to hear yourself think you help you break the barrier, so will socializing and being an open person. Share a laugh, pour your heart out, say something to someone you trust. Even if you don’t tell them all the nitty gritty of your situation, realizing you have their ear or their shoulder may help you reinforce yourself. Know that you can create access to support and that you are never alone.
A couple activities I have done recently: I watched a ted talk about self confidence and essentially how it is the key to all the doors you want to open in life. The speaker talked of writing himself a “congratulations letter,” a letter to himself, giving praise for all his accomplishments and areas of satisfaction in life. A place to give credit to yourself, to brag freely. A place to visit when you’re low.
Here’s just the first paragraph of my own:
Congratulations on being an amazing mom even though Benjamin was a sudden addition to your plate. You grew him in your womb and you spilled yourself to give him a life outside of you. You demonstrated inexplicable strength and love throughout that journey. You are responsible for his clean bottom, his full belly, his priceless comfort over the night. The smile on his face, each new word, each new skill or surprise, he’s learning from you and he’s growing in such a place of love with YOUR presence. Take credit for that. You would give anything and do anything for him. Not everyone in his life can say that, very few ever will. You are truly irreplaceable. When he has the words, one day I promise you he’ll tell you how amazing of a mother you are.
Because believe it or not the depression had told me at one point that no one needs me, not even my son. It’s insane how far away from the rational you the depression can drag you. I know I’m not the only mother who isn’t proud of having these thoughts, that’s why I have to air it out. It happens. It’s a thing. Don’t be so ashamed that you suffer in silence or suffer without seeking solution.
Speaking of, I have one last thing we say back to whatever depression says.
*ahem*, excuse my mama french.
You don’t define me. You are separate from me and should never be granted control of me or my life. You are in the business of lying to me, limiting and destroying my perception of the bountiful world I’m in. You steal countless opportunities I could otherwise conquer and fulfill. You are weak and weeping, but I am not. You are a storm, you cannot last forever- and my roots are deep. I will be standing. I will rise through the soil. I will bloom through the darkness. I will find my way home. My flame remains. I am powerful, loved, worthy. I am resilient.I am not afraid of you or your bumps and bruises. They look good on me while I do everything you say I cannot.
Now clap with me,
B****, this is my harvest. A better me is always on the way.