Day 46 - Depression, Routines & Tonglen*
Writing feels like a burden today. I don’t want to share or be open or say anything. I want to hide. I want to not tell the truth. I want to be someone else. I know this is just how I feel today...it will pass but today, it is where I am.
I do not know if I am just tired, more upset about turning 50 than my conscious mind will allow, changing, not changing, losing my mind...I just feel over and underwhelmed by it all. Life, relationships, parenting, working...everything. I can’t wait to have next week off. I want a break, a long break from my routine life.
It is so funny how I am such a routinized person but then that very same routine that helps me make it all happen, brings me some level of security also makes me feel trapped and drained. I need the routine, it is the framework of my life, until I just get too much life coming at me at once and then I just want to say fuck it, and pull the covers over my head and hide. No routine, no work, no parenting, opt out of life.
I used to do that. I called them "stuck-to-my-bed days." I would be all ready to go to work and then just have this moment, usually after I walked out the door and my head was like “nope, not today - today you will spend it glued to your mattress. You can do the rest of this shit another day.” I would always give in. I would spend the day not answering my phone, or getting online and mindlessly watching TV for hours. Like 23.5 hours. I would nap intermittantly. Problem was, that the next day, it was harder to get out of bed at all and move forward with my life and get back into the stream of my life. Sometimes I would spend a whole week there, once it might have been three weeks...
That was a long time ago and I have addressed most if not all of the issues that made me a shut in. Today, I know that I can’t give into those feelings lest they multiply, increase and cause my life to derail quickly. I still have those feelings, I just handle them differently today. I have this conversation with myself...
Fuck It Me
I can’t do it today...
I know, you are having a hard time. But staying home is not an option. It only makes this worse.
Fuck It Me
But I seriously don’t want to...
I know but giving in now makes the whole thing worse and last longer. So let’s just get up and do the best we can.
Fuck It Me
We can do this. I will help you.
So I get up, get dressed and take my two selves to the office and do the next stupid thing. All day. Then I go home and go to bed. The payoff is the next day, it is easier. Soon, I am on the other side of it.
I know that I am lucky that this manner of dealing with depression works for me. I have to say that this practice comes aided with medication...I also have to say that my depression today is situational and not chronic. I am not professing to know what anyone else should do here. Depression is real and it kills people. I do not mean to make light of it or suggest that just pushing forward is all depressed people need to do. I am simply owning that I am down and what I do to get unstuck.
Everything in my spiritual practice tells me that I am really not supposed to avoid things. I am to embrace life as it comes, in all forms and allow it unfold. Reserving judgment. Accepting life on life’s terms and work with what I am given. Easy to write, hard to do.
I get so stuck in the vicious cycles of praise/blame, pleasure/pain. Sometimes I think my whole life is just me trying to jump from one pleasurable thing to the next. That is when I am not avoiding stuff that I believe is painful or might be. I will tell you that living this way is exhausting. And it is why I am kinda wrung out right now.
The good news is that my spiritual practice also tells me that I get to work with this stuff. I get to breathe in the pain, the sorrow and the depression just as I get to breathe in the happiness, pleasure and excitement. They are really the same just pointed in different directions. I know this to be true because I have first hand experience with things that were wholly pleasant becoming critically painful and vice versa. It is the nature of life.
What I have found to be more important is to work with whatever I am given and not spend my time trying to regain ground that I feel I have lost. Right now, I am a little despondent over my man ban. Feels a little artificial. Like I am doing it as a cover to hide that no one would really pick me. I know I am missing the point, I took the year off to pick myself. How can I take something so simple and fuck it up? I am human, that’s how.
Today, I own that sometimes it is a drag being me. As I am sure that somedays, it is a drag being you. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all take a day here and there and live some other life that is objectively better than ours? Or would it? I remember when I was younger, I was so unhappy in my own life that I would have traded places with anyone. Seriously anyone. I realize now how much of a raw deal I would have gotten.
While being me today is not easy and I am having a hard time accepting and loving myself as I am. I am fighting with myself about calling out and binge watching Netflix all day, this is my life. It isn’t always shiny and pretty and perfect. Somedays it sucks. Somedays I want to trade it in and get a better model. What I know, is that this is everyone’s life. No one’s life is perfect all the time. We all take our turn in the barrel. This week appears to be my turn. So I turn inward and work with what I have got. I turn to my spiritual practice and do the only thing that I know to do...accept how and what I feel and set an intention that I may feel this down time completely and wholly with the intention that my willingness to feel it, alleviates some other person having to feel it.* It is all I know to do... well that get up, take a shower, brush my teeth and head out there into the world. It is where life happens - good and bad. And regardless of what I think I want in the moment, I want to live my whole life - even the hard parts.
*Tonglen is the Buddhist practice of sending and taking. When you feel something awful you breathe it in, you don't run from it. You take it in. When you feel something lovely, you send it out to others. The whole point is to create some ventilation for the ego. Take in what is painful with the intention that your willingness to feel it, may alleviate the suffering of another. Send out the good feelings you have with the intention that others may experience this pleasant feeling also. It is a practice that for centuries has been used to get us out of ourselves and our very limited views. It is not an easy practice, but it is powerful and life altering.