Everyone is writing about depression today because of Robin Williams’ passing. I’m writing about it because I’ve been feeling low myself, these past couple of weeks. I don’t always show it, as I’m an introvert and I tend to keep my strongest feelings close to my chest. But it’s there. And I’m not the only one.
I love this quote a friend (and fellow blogger) wrote:
“Don’t ever assume that the person who seems to have everything, to have it so together, doesn’t also carry great burdens. The face one projects and what goes in inside our very private minds can so often be wildly different.” – Spinster Jane
At first glance, the dip in my energies and mood seemed to be circumstantial. I paid about $225. to get my laptop fixed, using money that I’d received as an advance on an editing project. Then I had to struggle to meet the deadline for the editing while that same laptop crashed repeatedly.
My Subaru, which I knew needed lots of work and had been nursing along until the inspection was due this month, died. I mean, died as in “it’s not worth the amount of money we’d have to put into it to fix it.” I couldn’t just go out and get another car, even a used one, the next day. Despite it being the height of summer, our family’s finances – which due to Quester’s seasonal work are usually best this time of year – have been lower than expected. As a result of all this, the trip that BlackLion, ElvenTiger, and I had planned, which would have been a return to the awesome Rethinking Everything conference – had to be cancelled.
I reached out to my Dad for some car advice, and he did help, but also passed judgement. Apparently, on a financial level, I’m doing everything wrong. I’m fully aware that he means well, and that “following your calling” isn’t part of his world view. But even after doing lots of work on self-love and not caring what others think, who wants to hear that, especially from someone you love?
So, yeah, I’m bummed about all that stuff. But in talking it over with Quester, he said that he thought that having financial security wouldn’t necessarily alleviate my periodic brushes with depression. My first thought was, “what?!” But after pondering it further, I think perhaps he’s right.
Sometimes it seems that the overwhelming emotions come first, then they attach themselves to some reason for feeling that way. As I wrote in a recent article for Kind Over Matter, the work that I do to improve my personal experience of life involves a concerted effort.
The practice, for me, takes a lot of inner work. It encompasses letting go of fears, embracing my shadow, being kind to myself, practicing gratitude, learning the delicate dance between desire and non-attachment, doing yoga, seeking ways to help others, breathing mindfully, and setting daily intentions.
Guess what? When the car died, it coincided with a very busy week, travel that was a bit stressful, and not much time for my spiritual practices. And when the despair kicked in, I didn’t always take the time that I usually do to focus on those things that support me in feeling good.
The result? I fell down. And now, here I am, getting back up again.
When we’re down on the ground, or below it in a dark hole, it feels like that will always be our experience. That might even be true for some of us. But if you can just remember to do the things that have helped you before – reach out for help, go back to your most cherished spiritual practices, meditate, talk with a friend, see a therapist, or whatever it is for you – then the chances are good that you’ll feel better. Maybe not right away, but you’ll be back on your path.
I wish everyone had the support they need to keep on keeping on. But I can’t know what they’re going through. I don’t fault Robin Williams or anyone else for deciding they’ve had enough. My belief is that life continues in another form even after death, so it’s never truly the end.
As for me, I’ve stumbled back onto the trail and I’m ready to see what’s around the next bend.
Blessings on your journey, wherever it takes you.