“Like a wild animal, the soul is tough, resilient, resourceful, savvy, and self-sufficient:
it knows how to survive in hard places.
I learned about these qualities during my bouts with depression.
In that deadly darkness, the faculties I had always depended on collapsed.
My intellect was useless; my emotions were dead; my will was impotent; my ego was shattered.
But from time to time, deep in the thickets of my inner wilderness,
I could sense the presence of something that knew how to stay alive even when the rest of me wanted to die.
That something was my tough and tenacious soul.”
A dear friend sent me this today, saying it reminded her of me. I read it and got teary and smiled. Knowing that someone who has seen me in my very darkest moments thinks of me as tough and tenacious, is truly wondrous. It was like a big, squeezy hug for my soul.
For the past 2.5 years I’ve struggled every day with Depression. It terrified me for I felt both guilty (if only I were strong enough this wouldn’t be happening) and powerless. I couldn’t summon up willpower to overcome it or make myself busy enough to ignore it or talk myself out of it or think on enough happy things to dissipate it.
I had to go through it.
And try to love myself in it.
I felt both wildly out of control and sluggish in mind and spirit. As if an outside force was behaving for me and I was stumbling along behind thinking, “What just happened there?”
Every act took supreme effort, from getting out of bed and asking my husband about his day to feeding animals and remembering, well, anything.
I ate healthy.
I dragged myself out of the house to connect with nature and breathe fresh air.
I reached out to people even though every interaction was fraught with anxiety, panic attacks, and absolute assurance that it was all going to go horribly wrong.
I stuck to a routine that helped me keep life on a functioning level: get up, make breakfast, write article, feed animals, make lunch, etc.
I went to counseling.
I couldn’t believe it. Those lovely little pills reminded me what Real Life was like, what it felt like to be awake and alert and aware. How unutterably glorious it was to feel connected to people, and myself, and the world again, to not be in constant fear and anxiety, to actually be at peace.
They gave me hope. And much courage.
I was finally able to do all the self-care I’d heard about but never had the strength to do. And what a difference it made. I began to see myself with eyes of love and patience and compassion instead of judgment and condemnation. I could forgive myself and cheer myself on in all good things. I could love my husband without fear of failure or rejection. He is so happy to be getting his wife back.
I’ve also been quite emotional this week, not with grief or sadness, but with unabashed gratitude for healing, for life, for hope. I have to keep hugging Bear – much to his amusement – because I see now just how much he has endured over these past couple of years.
He has shown me true unconditional love, love that keeps hoping, keeps believing, keeps caring even in the darkest moments. I’m so glad he believed that I would come back to life, and that he waited for me.
At first the world seemed dark and indistinct with fog blanketing everything. But when I looked closely, there were exquisite vignettes of beauty, even in the darkness. Dew bejeweled cobwebs, feathery lichen, drenched foxtails looking like starbursts.