Reflections on Depression
Writing, like everything else in this complex web of life, must find a state of balance. While I do believe that it is important for me to document my experiences with depression, I also know the wonders that come from writing in the present tense and with the purpose of practicing gratitude. Here is my attempt to weave these intentions together.
I am, as of a couple of days ago, coming out of a depression that I want to say lasted about a month. But, when one is in that state, it becomes difficult to keep track of time. Negative thinking gets so loud and cyclical, it causes a disconnection from time itself. It is like a constant punishment from which you get no breaks. The tunnel vision, the muffled hearing, the choppy sense of concentration, the difficulty that comes with using my voice because I am so self-conscious of what I might say.
I need to write about these experiences because this is my reality. My human experience comes with low periods of time, bouts that can be incredibly challenging. But I have always bounced back from these times, and I have always worked to reflect and learn from myself with each tribulation.
I don’t want to hide this part of myself. I don’t want to continue to feel embarrassed and then shame myself when this happens. Because deep pain and suffering are a couple of the most central aspects of our lives. These feelings are not wrong. They are part of the spectrum of human longing, desire, contemplation. These experiences do not define me, but they are absolutely and beautifully a part of who I am.
When caught within the dark wheel of depression which gains momentum the more you give it power, it feels nearly impossible to believe in positive thoughts. Kind words directed towards the self feel like a lie. Kind words from others feel uncomfortable. Kindness in its entirety can feel so far away. It feels as though my personality has disappeared and will never return, a truly frightening feeling. The only seemingly logical solution becomes to isolate – you have nothing of value to offer others, so you would only feel burdensome making them be around you.
The days feel long and the body feels heavy. A day becomes something to endure. You are no longer living, but merely waiting. Waiting for something within you to trigger change, waiting to regain a sense of worth or strength, or perhaps waiting for it all to be over.
And then one day, you muster a droplet of motivation. It feels unfamiliar, but you let it seep into your thought patterns, or maybe it serves to quiet your mind altogether. It’s been awhile since you’ve experienced that stillness and sense of peace. You choose to interrupt piercing self-deprecating thinking with nice, gentle words about yourself. You practice repeating these sayings and begin to remember that you do deserve kindness and good things. You plan your day, and you might even schedule something fun for yourself to do. You can breathe a little deeper. The colors around you look brighter again. Your appetite comes back. You catch yourself laughing.
Today, I acknowledge that I allowed myself to get to a dark place again. But I will not continue to beat myself up for it. For I would never do that to a friend who I care for. I will accept what has happened, what has now become the past, and I will choose to move forward with a sense of rebirth. Each time I let a part of myself die, something new comes to life. This is, after all, the cycle of existence. Perhaps this is my process of shedding the old and making room for the new. It is painful, it is uncomfortable, and what is ahead is unknown. But I must practice giving myself what I need to get through these uncertain times – acceptance, worth, forgiveness, deservedness, understanding, love, security, safety, lightheartedness, peace.
Eleña Horvitz is an animal lover, a part-time doodler, and a sociologist who lives in San Diego, California. She is interested in approaching social issues, particularly work with vulnerable populations, with a trauma-informed perspective and hopes to connect with others by sharing her experiences with mental health and family addiction. She uses yoga, hiking and meditation as her main anti-depressants, but she also strives to savor all the little things like pets, coffee, sunny beach days and spending time with her fiancee, friends and family.