the most important threads to weave together are love and meaning. love and meaning can become the same cell but do not have to, do not always. emptiness, depression, anxiety, these are deep thrashing or motionless helplessness when love or meaning are absent.
in depression the meaning and interest of the world drains away. the thoughts of depression are difficult to propose to average people who have no replies and often no interest in looking in that direction at all. they are afraid of what you are saying and their own lives hold no answer. brush your teeth, they are thinking. take a shower, drive your children to school, work hard, get some exercise! i like dark chocolate. sometimes wine at the end of the day. do something nice for someone. have you seen that show Arrested Development? hilarious! i like a good tv show at night. family, of course. i enjoy planning trips, yes a good trip, a vacation. good for you.
when meaninglessness approaches it devastates these rituals as a tornado devastates a southern town, clipping gasoline tanks and yanking electrical lines from the ground like bad teeth gaping with mounds of dirt cavities, scraping the ground clean, leaving the soil, the core. so the depression asks what is the core?
if you are depressed and asking regular people what is the core it is being buckshot in your gut and walking with hands holding your intestines in and asking the next door neighbor lady if she can please, tell you how to fix it. she can't, and if you wait for her, you will die.
if you are depressed and you rub up against your friends, they might get those flecks of molecules and become infected and buckshot and holding their guts in their hands. so your friends may not stick around. they may stick around but take two steps back, big steps like they tell you to take in the army. people still love you but they don't want to be swallowed by the void. what you need is people who have already tesseracted. you need people already got shot and still run round the streets with their huge ugly scars. people who aren't gingerly sitting at home rubbing their scars will coconut oil and never bending over to get toys from underneath the couch because the scars might rip. you need people who aren't afraid to rip open. this isn't most people. one way that you end up more depressed when you are depressed is by moving toward and being deflected person after person. you can start to hate everyone or be confirmed in hopelessness. this is false. you are not finding the right people. they are there. i am here. keep looking. if you don't have the energy, retain the knowledge that when you do, they will be out there.
after those people you have the works of people, and the works of nature. the work of people in books and art and film are the college that your best surgeons went to. they know how to sew you up. lesser and better people than you have been buckshot and lived. listen to them. they told their stories, they recorded the images that sat with them in the darkness and then in the light. watch. learn. move from the prison memoir to the saint and connect the two.
in the wild if an animal is wounded it may roll in the mud and lay in the sun next to the water and pant. this is good practice.
if you always know the direction in which to move, no one can promise you that you will have the energy to move there. but there are some promises and truths that even a buckshot depressive can hold. we are all alive and we all die and we do it all in and out of two states: alone-connected, and connected-alone.
alone-connected is when you are alone inside your experience no matter who loves you or who you love. this is trapped in the brain. we spend a sad amount of time here. part of moving away from depression is moving out of our brain and into the larger shared experience of life. this is abstract but not completely. there are ways. alone-connected can be peaceful. there are times where alone-connected is restful. when it is not, you can usually move out in time. when you are depressed, you can't, you don't.
connected-alone is when your primary state of being is an awareness that you are connected to other human beings and to life on this planet. in this state you feel pain or even suffering but you are not despairing.
depression is alone-connected. depression is lack of meaning. depression is lack of emotion. depression is repression. knowing what depression is, we know what it is not; we know to force our bodies to do and hope our mind and soul catches up. hope our buckshot gut heals. this is the scene in a movie where the depressed character is so depressed she barely speaks or eats and most people give up on her. but someone doesn't. someone takes her to the garden everyday and they sit in the sunshine and the other person does what? reads poetry out loud? who would do that these days? i would. the other person watches movies with her. the other person takes her every day or every week to deliver food to AIDS patients. what happens next in the plot? the depressed character makes a connection with one of the AIDS patients and begins to heal. or the depressed person becomes obsessed with the butterflies in the garden and begins to paint them. she wakes up. it could be that the depressed character never wakes up and never heals her buckshot gut and never gets out of the prop wheelchair. but probably she will.
if we are patient and consistent the mind can heal. the spirit can heal. like parenting a small child, we offer love. we wait, we have faith in the process, we nurture, we model, we are gentle. we apologize for our mistakes.
finding meaning and connection. i had my oldest son at nineteen years old. i was depressed when i became pregnant with him, and by the time he was born, i was not depressed anymore. was it simple, or easy? no. but it's true, that statement i made. his life gave my life meaning and taught me a lifelong lesson: finding meaning is the antidote to depression and existential crisis.
i still had to go to therapy. i still took medication. i still did yoga, worked out, and listened to tapes that helped anxiety as i feel asleep. i still kept a diary per my therapist's request. i still read self help books. but i had found what remains. i had found the ground to stand on: help someone else. ( my baby ) love someone who no one else is taking responsibility for. ( my baby ) give your physical energy ( wake up in the middle of the night five times a night every night for the first year ) give your mental energy ( read a million books on parenting, join a website on attached parenting, write nightly therapy lists ) give your spiritual energy ( pray every night even though God, who knows ) give more than you think you can ( face my demons in therapy, be honest about who i was, give up smoking cigarettes all day, start college, change my eating habits ) and you will begin to be connected-alone.
one of the times in my life i felt the most depressed was right before i stood in front of a mirror with my bra off and eyed my swollen purpling nipples and asked out loud why they might look like that, before my mom said ' could you be pregnant? ' and the answer was yes. the year before this i was deeply depressed and it is because i was not engaged in meaning. my friends were nice but they were all running from hard truths, again, like most people. my job was fine but meaningless to me. my writing had no purpose and lay on the page, lost. i went to coffee shops with my friends and sucked on cigarettes and listened to everyone bullshitting and thought if this was life, it had nothing for me. i can only be happy when engaged on the deepest levels of life. i can only enjoy bullshitting when it is accompanied by everything else, not the blanket i drag along with me as a comfort, gathering mold and shit and dirt and covering me even in sleep.
i have a friend who lives in Portland. she has little money and many problems of many kinds like most of us. she was upset that bees were dying. she was scared about the effect of rapid bee death rates on our planet. she read about it. she talked about it. she watched movies, she thought, she wrote. and then she decided to start a fundraiser and raise bees in her backyard. and now she stands with huge gloves and goggles and looks at the miniature world of bees. she created meaning in forward motion, she created meaning by connecting and helping.
if you don't eat well, and your body is out of balance and you don't exercise and you take in chemicals in your food and products all day, you might get depressed even if you are raising a million bees and saving children every weekend. if you have mental illness in your family history, you might get depressed even if you start your own charitable foundation. there are components. there are things to consider. there is the reality that you are a biological organism and you must address the health of your body and mind.
but without connection and meaning, you will not heal.
right now i am depressed.
but i am not hopeless.
i am not despairing.
i connect myself as hard as a bee ejecting its stinger into the flesh of a human being, and wait for the effect. it will come.