Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Riding The Wave of Depression vs Worshipping The Low Self-Esteem Deity




Recently, I celebrated another birthday.Yes, I'm now 57 years young.  Usually I have a couple of weeks of emotional upheaval before the birthday, but this year, it came after. There has been a lot of foot-dragging for the past week, but also, a lot of gratitude for the many wonderful things I have in my life that keep me going. I'm not quite sure, I could go through these dark times without my loved ones. It's not that they do anything special. It's just knowing they are there.

For nearly all my life, I have suffered from depression, and while I recognize it is a very common experience, I still find I buy into it for a couple of days when it first hits. Many things can trigger it. The wrong food,too many sweet things (alcohol is definitely a no-no), or even a minor argument with a friend....and even though I know many things that help turn it around, sometimes, the hopelessness renders me unwilling to do these things. I get angry. I'm not the type to feel justified in taking it out on others so I internalize. As the days go by though, I begin to step back into sanity, realizing the futility in indulging it. I read spiritual books, involve myself with artwork, throw myself into projects, whether it be cleaning the house, or doing a favor for a family member or a friend. Even writing this blog for my family and friends, is a way to step out of the fog depression tends to create in my life.

I have come to realize that at the bottom of this depression, is an unwillingness to accept life as it is appearing in the here and now. I feel out of control, helpless to change. Part of me knows that I just have to ride it through, and trust that my innate intelligence will find a solution, if I just keep showing up for my life the best way I can.

What triggered the episode this time was being too tired and an incident at a family gathering to celebrate my birthday and mothers day. One family friend, insisted on going over a litany of why he is worthless, and while I am sensitive to his dilemma, I felt once again I was cast as the reluctant caretaker. In short I felt invisible. Somehow the festivity had become about my friend, and not about celebrating my life, and the life of the friends, I had invited to share it with.  And while he may have been insensitive, it is not a criminal offense. I was very strong with him, and told him, that he always had a way of making conversation about himself, instead of an open exchange of ideas.When I finally stand up for myself, and take care of myself, I feel guilt.  If I wasn't so hard on myself, I would have an easier time showing strength and setting  healthy boundaries.  I forget to appreciate the growth it has taken for me to be honest.  I don't want to go into overkill, and give him more fodder for his "all-the-ways-I-hate" myself list. After all, he has a many wonderful qualities too. We all from time to time need wake up calls about being self involved. I think part of what was difficult for me, is that I feel the same way that he does about myself, but the difference is, I know that giving voice to the litany of all the ways I am worthless, digs me further into the mire of self loathing. So when my friend does this, it's like a negative mantra to a false god, and I find it difficult to keep my equanimity worshiping  the low self-esteem deity.

So here, I am taking a step out in the open. Today, I cleaned the house, prepared presents for friends and family, and wrote here, to you, "my dear, and best beloved." (as Rudyard Kipling would put it.) I am so grateful for living in a beautiful place. The trees are that lucid green. The evening is breezy and just cool enough. The people passing the café, I'm sitting in, are eating ice cream, and smiling at their children. An acquaintance bought me a latte today just because I laughed with him. My daughter left me two Trader Joe Chocolate bars (unsweetened on the end of my bed). My grandson kissed me this morning, and a friend sent me a heart in an email. While I know there will be tragedies, minor setbacks, dreams unfulfilled, life is good, and worth the pain. Perhaps,  I'll send the old friend I mentioned, my heart in an email.

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