The easiest tell of when I’ve invited depression into my life is portrayed through my relationship with food. It’s far from normal, which at least makes it easy to stare at, open-mouthed, like oh, dear… and understand it for the addiction it so easily turns into.
An addiction that is pretty much the quintessential sample of how indulging in too much of anything works — you’re missing something within, so you do your very best to fill it. (Insert energy bars, ice cream, apple fritters, etc.)
With that, my eating habits become.. how you would say… on point. Fleeky. Organic, local, infinitely thoughtful and clean as a whistle.
But when the part of my head that loves to investigate and make a map of its surroundings than shut up and just live in it, damnit, takes a look at the flowers it starts to question them. Sure, it seems like admiration at first. Look how pretty, it marvels. Then possession and fear follow-up just as fast. But how did they come about? Who’s watering them to make them so pretty? Was it me? I can’t possibly be responsible, I’m so bad with plants.
And there it goes. My content, happiness, joy, peace, love, everything good under God’s green earth disappears as if being blown away by a gust of wind. Because as I worry how Life came about from within me, I neglect its maintenance. So the leaves start to rot, and the depression claims its once-thriving life.
And those leaves used to be beautiful, believe me. What is it about a flower? It’s beauty is contained with no explanation, because it isn’t necessary. It just is, and we adore it anyway. An enjoyable result of nature that makes itself known from a distance, resulting from its attractive scent? What’s the use in judging it?
It doesn’t understand how it could thrive with such vibrancy and, what the hell, without ANY help. At times I can recognize its barely coherent claims of injustice, complaints, and desperate explanations at how, no, no, no, it was definitely when I did this! Yeah, that was it… wait, no… that couldn’t have been it…. hang on a second… and upon my observations I can come from a place of peace, acknowledge it fairly, give it love and return back to peace.
But other times — times that I understand right now better than I’d like to — I listen to it. I support its incoherent arguments. I forget who I am, I forget about the beautiful flowers of mine that bloom within my pure state of being that exist needn’t no explanation, and I delve into the claims my mind has created. I actually humor it by mulling over its — forgive me — mindless creations with very careful consideration.
I remember a certain conversation with one of my closest friends, Ryann. An expert in self-discovery. Until her recent relocation to Maui, our weekly conversations usually held great understandings of spiritual truth. It just worked out that way whenever we put our energies in the same room.
Well, one of those days we forced space on the cluttered floor of her room to sit across from each other and eventually, Love came up.
I emphasize the letter L in Love because it was introduced in that day’s topic of discussion in a way likely similar to the way a Catholic would prioritize God. My understanding of Love was vocalized as such:
“Dude,” I tell her excitedly. “I thought of something today.”
Ryann recognizes the potential in my words, and I see her interest turn on like a light switch as she fixes me with captured eyes.
“So” I continue, “I remember in freshman year physical science,” Wait, that can’t be right. “… No, 6th grade science. Or something. We learned that there’s no such thing as cold, there’s only ever a lack of heat. So when it’s freezing cold outside it’s not actually cold, there’s just no warmth.”
In the middle of this explanation I notice her attention begin to wane (understandably) so I pick up the enthusiasm a little.
Ryann loves this. Her eyes show wonder as she ponders this, rewarding my spiritual realization with thoughtful acknowledgement. “Wow… yeah…”
Of course, spiritual understandings are amazing when they’re uncovered. And sometimes they can alter the next few days that are in store for you, clearing the clouds of your mind to let the sun shine through. But just as much as they are an oasis, they’re a responsibility. Without giving yourself proper care, and love, those understandings become nothing but another memory for my mind to tear to shreds. Another flower: dead, dried out, a victim to examination and detail and explanation on behalf of the part of me that ends up needing love most of all.
When my mind feels fear and tries to help by doing absolutely the opposite, I end up feeling the opposite of love. In its absence depression waltzes through the door, takes a seat, analyzes the house it sits in and overstays it’s welcome. I recall the understanding I once shared with Ryann, now months old but alive as ever in my memory.
So I turn to my mind in all its rapid activity. I patiently wait for it’s inevitable silence, then I give it love. I know its behavior in contrast to the peace I’m capable of accessing, and I softly say to it, “I know what you’re trying to do, and I love you for it. But everything is okay — watch.”
And I turn away to water the flowers with peaceful adoration on the opposite end of the room.