Category Archives: depression

shining light into the darkness

everything’s going to be okay, I tell myself. this will pass.

I find so much peace in those simple words.

456c6c7df8524f9d7064d8bcd9768915
photo by joniwoq

I have felt sadness more and more of late. It scares me sometimes. I feel it in moments where my work or social experiences are particularly challenging or unfulfilling or in a moment when I sit with an intense emotion like anger, tracing its rapid burn through my chest and belly and feeling the sadness just underneath its hot surface. The sadness comes and goes like any other emotion but it has come for a number of days in a row. I find myself worrying what if it keeps coming back? What if I fall into a deep sadness like I have in the past?

There is no way to know what the future will bring but I trust in the universe. I know that if a deep sadness happens, I will still be okay. It will pass. I am not a super human. I am allowed to experience moments of sadness.

I comfort myself in practices like deep breathing, deep nourishing, deep listening to what lurks underneath the emotion that doesn’t use words — is there a need not being met, am I doing too much, am I not connected to my life’s purpose?

I comfort and release  sadness through my cycle of breath, knowing that although I may feel sadness that I am not my sadness. Breathing in, I am aware of my breath flowing in. I follow its journey through my body and feel its life and energy. I can feel my breath encounter sadness as I breathe in. I shine light into the darkness with my breath: touching sadness with my inhale, releasing it with my exhale.

tumblr_mm09win53c1rbaqo5o1_500
photo by llbolek

 

Deeply nourishing practices I like to utilize:

– I self-soothe with my hand at my chest or belly as a reminder that I am not alone and I will always be there for myself no matter what.

– Be active. Yoga, dance, walks, runs, etc.

– Cook/eat balanced, yummy meals.

– Engage in activities that draw a deep belly laugh. I invite my favorite books and comedies to help with this.

– Be around loving, welcoming people. I can allow myself alone time but it’s really important to be around others as well to avoid getting too caught up in my experience.

– Journal. Write. Express myself. Sing/chant. Be creative. Release.

– A mindfulness practice I have started to engage in is accepting each moment for what it is and bringing a gentle curiosity to each moment. I have started to realize the incredible peace and freedom in befriending each moment  — not just the ones that take my breath away with their joy but the more difficult moments where I feel lonely, scared, or not good enough. Adding a layer of compassion and acceptance to challenging feelings and experiences can make them so much easier to navigate through.

***

Writing a piece like this helps tremendously. It helps dissipate my sadness, helps me to feel less isolated and more connected by sharing my experiences with others rather than keeping them a secret. If you feel intense emotions or devastating experiences that leave you weary, I want you to know that you are not alone. You never can be alone. We are all connected. We are holding the space for you, supporting you in our collective energy.


sexton, vonnegut, depression, and writing.


photo  by TommyOshima.

i’ve read confessional poet extraordinaire anne sexton a lot lately particularly as i have developed the series on depression that i started posting this week. i don’t think there are many people who have written about the disorder better than sexton. she writes about most things better than anyone else but depression is a particularly difficult subject to describe because of its tendency to eat away at your senses. sometimes, i feel like i have huge holes in my memories from periods of my life when depression strangled my world. i know a lot of people must feel that way because of the distortion that depression causes. how then do you write about something that you can’t even see clearly?

…   …   …   …   …   …

my favorite sexton poem: “barefoot.”
the poet of ignorance,” a poem about the helplessness of depression that particularly grips me.
lessons in hunger,” one of her last poems before her suicide.

 

i love sexton’s fairy tale reincarnation transformations and kurt vonnegut jr’s foreward in the book:

I asked a poet friend one time what it was that poets did, and he thought awhile, and then he told me, “They extend the language.”

Anne Sexton does a deeper favor for me: she domesticates my terror, examines it and describes it, teaches it some tricks which will amuse me, then lets it gallop wild in my forest once more.

–Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

i love his interpretation of her writing. sexton writes about the most intimate corners of her life but it never seems narcissistic or overdramatic; she allows a voice for every one of the emotions running rampant in you.

i remember the first time i read transformations. i was staying with an ex in brooklyn who had the most amazing little apartment. his roommate had decorated the living room with a small sofa, wooden statues that resembled different parts of a tree, and piles of piles of books in every corner. for days i wanted to walk around the room barefoot and touch all of the different books. i didn’t though because i’ve always felt like looking through someone’s book collection was too intimate for a stranger to do (his roommate was away on assignment in africa — i never met him) but my ex, a devout writer yet very reluctant reader, laughed at me and laid a giant pile of books on my lap. it was then that i found transformations and entered the mind of sexton for the first time.

i have yet to read any of vonnegut’s books (he’s on my to read list). however, i do love to read and reread his eight rules (particularly #7) for short story writing which are from Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction:

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

He qualifies the list by saying that Flannery O’Connor, and other great writers tend to break all the rules except for #1.

i love the fact that he adds that little clause at the end about breaking the rules. rules and tips are great especially when writers are first developing their style and voice but who needs rules when it comes to creativity?


photo by Coffeelatte.  quote from the sexton poem “knee song.”