How’s your winter going? I’m pretty much hating it all. I am quiet and tired and often finding myself a little depressed. I dyed my hair sexy red today…thought doing something about the outside would help. ANd I did feel better. You can’t feel completely bad with good hair right? But then, knowing that I felt better made me feel that I must be shallow lol. Oy…ya just can’t please some people
So, I call this winter the holy war between my ego and my soul. To be honest, I’m not sure who is winning at the moment. I have fleeting crises of faith that make my brain feel disconnected and misused. Mostly, I’m just trying to get through each day. It seems it has been all bad news lately, and frankly, I don’t care how hippy Buddhist spiritual I am– anyone would shudder under this weight, quite frankly. I have this terrible thinking learned over years of surprise disasters, which makes me see things as unrolling always negatively and disastrously in the future…impending doom, I carry it around every single minute of the day. Then at some point, impending doom (life’s imagined dramas) and real life collide – and I am hopeless beyond reachable. The roller coaster is a little exhausting if you ask me.
Some would say Buddhism would do me some good. Most importantly, the concept of dissociation and detachment. You stop identifying everything as right and wrong, because this is a judgement you are making, and really since you don’t know the entire past or future of humanity, you can’t really know if anything is “good” or “bad”. So, each life event is viewed as, quite simply, a life event. That’s easy to say when you’re not depressed though. When you’re in the thick of it, there is no such reasoning happening in your brain. It’s a terrible place to be. Having someone tell you to just “try harder” or “think differently”, really doesn’t help either. < div>It’s bad enough that the feelings are so inexplicable that you are busy invalidating your self, but to have someone else invalidate you further, isn’t helpful to the person with depression. I have taken meds for this extreme fluctuating of my moods in the past, but over time I came off of the plethora of shit they had me on. I have to say, that over the past few years the thawing process has been excruciatingly painful, interesting and challenging.
And please don’t think I have any opinion AGAINST meds…I certainly do not. I believe they saved my life for a period of years, and I am forever grateful to people who researched a took depression seriously enough to create what they believed was a solution. But mostly I think there is a time an da place for everything, and everything changes all the time. Not being on the meds made a huge difference in my life. Some aspects were challenging. The feeling of being out of control, or not understanding the strength and level of my emotions, because of course the meds diminished the size of feelings to make everything more “manageable”. My doctor explained that they would enable me to “work within the lines”. Wow. I can’t believe I ever thought that was a good idea. I felt more awake, aware and creative within a few weeks of weaning myself off very slowly. But, the problem with the way we treat mental illness is we always fast track it. They send you to a psychiatrist who doesn’t want to hear anything about you really past the basics, then he writes you a prescription or three and makes the next appointment. I remember interrupting my own psychiatrist once as he was busy telling me about his luxurious wine tasting trips on bicycle to the swiss alps, and I said,
“Do you think I should see someone to try and figure out why I FEEL like this all the time?” he gave me a small deprecating look and jotting down the names of two or three people, and they were either so expensive it was prohibitive, or they didn’t speak english. Lovely .As time went on I slowly began to wean myself off the meds as they had for all intents and purposes ceased to function properly for me, but had in fact begun creating WORSE symptoms of the diseases they had diagnosed me with. I made my decision to try stopping the meds when on two occasions I hallucinated. I was not impressed.
I found other methods of self discovery, like journalling, writing, sketching, meditation, yoga, african drumming – anything I could get my hands on to find out more about myself. I took it on mostly like a treasure finding expeditiion when I was ina good frame of mind.
This self discovery often requires that we understand the deep impact our past situations have had on us. How have the impacted how you see the world and how you make decisions? Without this kind of introspection, a human life is mostly wasted and robotic. Eventually did find a psychologist who was perfect for me and she helped take my understanding and expanding interests up a few notches. A good therapist I believe , is one who gives you a safe and supportive method of finding the answers yourself. It has to be an empowering experience.
Some great things happened once I got off the drugs. The first and most important is that I became aware that no drug in the world would work if I did not take responsibility for my feelings , reactions and thoughts. I couldn’t anything on missing a pill or the leveling off process that occurs when your body begins to acclimatize to having these chemicals added to it. I became more aware of myself.
I paid closer attention to my reactions. Through various teachers that began to cross my path in remarkably synchronous ways, I began to learn how to observe myself rather than jump into it all with both fists swinging. I now cherish this sense of peace and balance more than I need chaos and drama. This was a HUGE change in me. One which could only have come about through the diligent peeling back of multitudes of layers of denial and misunderstanding about myself and my role in the events that have shaped my life.
Buddhism was and is appealing. Even when I am in a crisis of faith, Buddhism rests more on logic rather than blind faith…and sometimes all I can mange is to hold on to what it black and white and deliciously earthly and easy for my little mind to absorb. Sometimes we all get a small mind.
And yet with all this KNOWLEDGE….the winter feels almost impossibly difficult for me this year. NO ONE can THINK their way out of human experience.
So, I am watching these awesome people in my family rise above themselves during this experience of my mother’s cancer, and I am so moved. But I have learned in these 46 short years here, that the universe waits for no one, and the motion forward of life is not contingent upon my ability to handle it. Buddhism is a good idea – because it stresses having fewer “ideas”. Fewer opinions. Forgive more, judge less. I think we could all use a little more of this in our lives.
So, that’s how my winter’s going. I call it the battle between my ego and my soul. Every other part of me feels like it’s in a holding pattern, waiting to see which end I will come out on. But frankly, I should remind myself that it isn’t the destination that counts, it’s the journey. And the journey is right now, right here – in the cold dead of winter.
FIGHT UPDATE: So who’s winning? Right now I’d say Ego is up on Soul. But I’m sure Soul will make her valiant come back any time now. Stay tuned …