Why Am I Depressed?

I’ve been feeling depressed and weepy for a while. I find myself crying at the oddest times – even sometimes while driving in the car. I find myself smiling brightly at a client or group while feeling the depths of unnameable despair in my heart. Some of this is part of a grieving process, having recently lost my mother, and some of it is the gift of being a Wild Woman.  Yes – I said GIFT!  At a doctor appointment recently for my annual physical my doctor reported to me that the way I answered the questionnaire – well, the numbers added up to possible depression. Wild Woman depressed??? Yes it happens to the best of us! Now if I weren’t the very wise Wild Woman that I am, I might have said, “Oh yes Doc – I’m so depressed and feelin’ low,” and you know I would have waltzed out of that office with a prescription for the “happy pills” to mask away any imagined or real emotional pain I might be feeling. I know better! I am an artist, a wild woman, a creature of intense creative powers. Depression is a sign that we may be ready for some new life experience or it may be a time when we begin to clean out the closet of emotional and spiritual storage.

I won’t pretend with you. Sometimes I feel like giving up. I can become very down, depressed, disheartened and grumpy. I can sink into self absorption and deep into the void.  Self worth issues and old negative tapes that often come to visit just at the worst possible moments rear their ugly heads and poisonous fangs in nightmarish fashion. In a funk I can become dramatic and forget to be grateful – or at least wrestle with it and contemplate everything being just over in my life. I’m very good at worrying and fretting and holding on too tight to be in control of things I have no control over. Sometimes these states of existence overtake me for long periods of great writhing discomfort. What I also do happen to have, that I consider being a luminous gift of the universe, is an indomitable spirit and sense of imagination. Always – I know that no matter what darkness faces me – I will find a light and this too shall pass. I have a box of nifty tools and practices that I can choose to work with when I need them. I just have to make the choice to open the box when I’d rather wallow in the stagnant pond of ……

Feeling low and depressed is not necessarily something to be feared and medicated. I believe this can be a sacred state of grace, a time or space in life indicating the possibility of new growth and awareness. Yes it feels yucky, sluggish, sad, and most uncomfortable. It just sucks! Whether it’s an echo from underwater world of yearning a long lost love of an absent father or the freshly broken heart of shattered relationship or fear of the unknown future, depression is the response that awaits healing and growth in us. A pearl is not made from contentment – but from irritation. It most definitely is a time to listen carefully and bravely open up the flood gates to honest self evaluation. It is a time when my body and soul are commanding me to take some specific actions. Many of us have learned early on that a quick fix is taking a pill, a drink, or unhealthy food choice, but often it is no surprise that this kind of fix only works for a short time and eventually we become more embroiled in confusion and despair when the effects of the pill or addiction no longer make us happy. Too often we have not learned coping skills and have no idea of the beauty that can come of walking the muddy depths and feeling perfectly lousy. This is a time to begin to make choices – not decisions. Decisions require a state of being in balance and too often I make just terrible decisions when in a state of depression. No – I need to make choices to nurture myself, to make space to listen, turn to my Totem spirit and animal guides, move my body no matter how heavy and dull she may feel, and find tools to allow my strengths to be allowed to shine through. Patience and trust is a must and sometimes I have to find help from other trusted Wise Women who are loving, understanding and compassionate.

How do I cultivate a healing place for myself when I am dragging through a dark experience? I need to be assured that it is in exploring the depths of despair and the heights of joy that I feed my creativity and passion. It is essential to remember that joy, pleasure, sadness and discomfort are all equal in helping me to grow and understand my life and the world I live in. I need to be able to hear myself speak, and I need a safe space to be listened to, and to be held tenderly without judgment or criticism. I need to know that becoming the judge of my emotions will only make me feel worse. Often we think we have let go, forgiven, turned a new corner only to have life spiral around and smack us square in the heart with old stuff.  What I now know is that each new spin of this spiral becomes more manageable and less intense, and my propensity for compassionate response to self and the world becomes richer with each journey into the place of darkness. It’s OK to be messy, and stumble badly as well as dance gracefully into wisdom. Along this path I may come to understand that no one experience defines me. The mystery of me is beyond thought and emotion. The beauty of me is in my very existence. My comfort zone in this world expands every time I realize that I am not my thoughts and feelings – those things are only aspects of my chosen journey in this life. I am much more than my highs or lows. Often it is the darkness – the pitch black desolate, lonely tunnels that eventually spur us on to realize that we own the light from within – we just need to open our inner eyes.

I believe that in times of depression and difficulty new doors and opportunities are presented to us. I believe that often it is actually necessary to welcome depression and rocky times to become enlightened. Why is this so? Why does enlightenment so often burst forth at the end of a long dark tunnel? During these times we begin to search and we learn to allow and release. We begin to evaluate and take a closer look into our well being, and finally we begin to listen to what the universe may have been offering to us when we were too busy to stop and take anything in. In reality we learn so much during the depression times because we become vulnerable and our walls come tumbling down.

Beginning a new project both summons and surfs a unique energy. Connecting the present, past, and future, there is a kind of shimmering around you and the work. When this arises, many of us want to flee. Stay in it. Follow that energy — hold on — but dance.

Work to stay in the active moment. The quiver and zest of creative energy will not visit you again in that form. Many people think it is their fear of failure or success that causes them to procrastinate or dump their potential, but it is also because making something is a spiritual process; a spiritual discipline. Feel yourself fill like a wineskin, full of life, potential, the energy of creation. Stay with the pleasure, stay grounded, remain flexible.

– an original offering from the Woman and the Owl Project: Cultivating Women Spiritual Leaders

It is with tremendous gratitude that I remember how many women have stepped through the doors of Dance On the Wild Side during times of turmoil and difficulty in their lives. I have been given the gift of meeting some of the most beautiful wise women and shared in their most vulnerable moments. You have all taught me much. I have been gifted with your power, wisdom, discoveries and indomitable spirits. In learning to hold our own precious selves tenderly and practice self love we have expanded our awareness and widened our horizons to all peoples and to the magic of universal love. Did you notice I use the word magic in almost every newsletter?  That’s because life is magical and we are fabulous magicians.  It works like this: self love grows and expands until it spills over like a waterfall and extends to all of those we meet in our life. If we don’t practice self love first, then we are too empty to extend much of anything to another. This is it. This life is where we experience heaven on earth, and it is in this now that we learn to love ourselves unconditionally– and the universe will do whatever it needs to do to take us there – even if it’s a treck through muddy dark waters to help us realize when we need to awaken once again to the joy of reaching for the light and be replenished!

I borrowed this Rumi poem from my friend Sundari’s Blog – Thanks Sundari!!

Quietness

Inside this new love, die.
Your way begins on the other side.
Become the sky.
Take an axe to the prison wall.
Escape.
Walk out like someone suddenly born into color.
Do it now.
You’re covered with thick clouds.
Slide out the side. Die,
and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign
that you’ve died.
Your old life was a frantic running
from silence.

The speechless full moon
comes out now.

-Rumi

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