Cavern Hunting with Pandora

It’s strange. I find that often if I’m quiet enough, and I listen hard enough, there are still echoes of a cavern in my soul. Of dank, cold water that soundlessly seeps into every crevice.

If you were to ask me if I was okay I would undoubtedly say yes. Because I am, and I’m doing so much better than before. But at the same time I am very much aware that there is a darkness that is yet to be lifted.

I sometimes describe myself as slightly suicidal which sounds like an insult to people on the brink of suicide. It seems like a dichotomy. You can’t be in that kind of a headspace only slightly, you’re probably thinking. It’s something that overtakes you completely.

And you’re right.

But you’re also wrong.

I’m at a place where most of the time I’m fine, happy even. The term mildly depressed no longer fits. I feel somewhat back to an equilibrium. And yet, I know I’m not one hundred percent. Like there may be demons I haven’t wrestled yet. Or worse, like because I’ve visited such dark places, I’ll never be able to fully leave them behind in my memories. Like there’s a Pandora’s box that has been opened and the potential for even denser darkness in the midst of light has been unleashed. I sense there is a kinetic reality whispering around the edges of my consciousness.

I fight these fears with, of all the lame techniques I could’ve chosen, positive thinking. Or better stated, no thinking. Distracted thinking. Since the path to the caverns are familiar, I can notice that I’m heading there more quickly and reroute myself, whether it’s with a trivial thought or an important one.

But I guess I worry that if I use this technique too often I might miss a battle that’s better to be had now rather than later. I’ve dealt with a lot of my issues in the last few years and am still dealing with them. It’s part of what contributed to getting to know my dark spaces so up close and personal. I decided it was time to climb out of the cavern, and when I was going to therapy my therapist seemed very intent on helping me put those thoughts and feelings into perspective. My emotions are valid, but they’re not as all encompassing and overwhelming as they feel. Don’t give them more importance than they deserve. If a thought’s not constructive throw it out. Simple as that. 

Only problem is sometimes it’s hard to tell the genuinely destructive ones from the ones that sting, but are building my character.

There are important things I’ve learned about managing my emotions and I know I can still continue to use them while working on my flaws, but I also can’t help wondering what secret things have slinked out of Pandora’s box that I’ve yet to have noticed. It’s hard learning how to exist in this new version of myself when I don’t actually know all my parts. Meanwhile, other parts I can’t forget and they contribute to my tendency to go cavern hunting. Unfortunately, being honest with myself includes admitting that part of me still savors the option of flicking to OFF, on account of all the beasties lurking in the dark.

Good thing hope is a flame and not an off switch.

~LDA

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Building Walls

I’ve been battling with mild depression for a while. Mild, because I’m still functional and able to hide it. I find one of the toughest parts is making sure I keep a balanced life. Little things like getting up early, vitamin supplements, exercise and staying on top of work & hobbies become paramount to my ability to keep it together. A declaration that if I am able to manage the little things in my life that add up to big things, then I can certainly handle the huge demons lurking in the back (and sometimes the front) of my psyche, that in the end really add up to little things.

Depression, or at least my experience with it (after all, everyone’s mental health journey is as different as our fingerprints), can blow things massively out of proportion. There are many times I’m left grappling with this giant weight that becomes so suffocating I feel I might be better off offed. It becomes such a burden to even deal with the mental/emotional/spiritual turmoil that often stems from nowhere in particular, that I’d rather not deal with myself.

But of course,

I have to deal with myself.

I’m the only one who can take up the task to do so.

I can not escape myself.

Or at least not without going to some very dark places.

And this is the part where I start to feel guilty because it’s against my code of ethics to travel to such dark places. I hold the belief that I do not fully belong to myself. That the only life worth living is one where you live your life in service of others. (Which is completely different, mind you, than living your life for others, as in trying to be a people-pleaser.) You will never find true happiness wrapped up in the pursuit of yourself. Loving others, even those you don’t know, by showing that you care, is the root of fulfillment. Of course, if I’m all stuck in my head traveling to dark places or entertaining the thought of really going to even darker ones, then I can’t live the life I was meant to live.

When you feel like I have lately, you get in the habit of building walls to block out the noise of your chaotic brain. The static can get to be too much so it’s important to hone this coping mechanism in order to keep from losing it completely. The ability to quiet the unproductive negative hum that threatens to drown out all desire to accomplish anything in life is vital, but I find that the most damaging thing I end up doing is blocking out the important along with the static. Things like family, friends, hobbies, and passionate pursuits. This of course only digs you into a deeper hole. You have to be careful, otherwise if you ever even crawl out of The Pits, there will be no one left to come back to and you’ll end up having to do a lot of damage control.

Honestly, the most difficult part of dealing with depression is trying to keep myself from the counterproductive construction of walls that separate me from the people around me. The actual temptation of silencing all static once and for all is not painful. It can actually bring forth a sort of catharsis that is very dangerous when fully fleshed. The static has a way of turning into seductive melodies that enchant and cajole when left unchecked. While it’s difficult to climb out of that hole, there’s a sick part of me that enjoys the darkness, and maybe that’s why it’s so hard to fully remove myself from the slump I’m in . Some selfish part of me doesn’t really want to succeed and have to continue fighting my way through life. It wants to let myself be taken down this road of destruction. The key to not actually hitting the self destruct button is keeping an eye on all the walls I’m building, and that’s the difficult part.

It’s easy to alienate people when you don’t even want to keep yourself company, never mind other people. It can start to feel like it’s some big production to be around people since if you acted how you truly felt, they’d either be concerned or walk away because it’s not fun to have you around anymore. Sulking and simmering in solitude starts to wax real attractive.

“Why deal with people anyway? I hate people,” is a common excuse I mumble to myself.

But the truth is I don’t really hate people. I hate the shady, shallow things they often do which make me want to give up on the human race sometimes. But I don’t really hate people, at least not when I’m examining and interacting with them on an individual basis. I can see the sad and stupid reasons for why they do the things they do and empathize with them most days.

The trouble is when you have no empathy left for yourself and the unreasonably gloomy way you’re feeling, that means no empathy left for anyone else either. The thing is, if you surround yourself with the right people, none of this should matter. You shouldn’t feel like you have to hide your dark side from people who truly care about you. They will understand that you are not at your best and give you the support you need in the meantime. It’s important not to weed everyone out as an unsympathetic other. The walls we build must be to deflect static and toxic people only.

Otherwise, when the coast is finally clear to knock most of those walls down, and your face muscles remember how to execute an upward turn at long last, there will be no one left standing on the other side of them to smile at.

~LDA

If you or someone you love is dealing with thoughts of suicide please don’t hesitate to reach out to resources such as:

U.S. National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

United Kingdom Hotline: 08457909090

Canada: 5147234000

Australia: 131114

South Africa: 0514445691

International Online Help: http://www.suicidestop.com/suicide_prevention_chat_online.html

Even if you feel like you already pushed away all the close people in your life (or that they’ve pushed you away), there is always someone willing to help pull you out of that pit you might be in. There’s always hope of reconnection with people, as long as you give yourself a chance to have a future.

Cosmic Shrapnel

 

There are times when you have stayed for so long in one position thinking about nothing at all that you become unexpectedly acquainted with yourself. Suddenly you’re faced with the reality of your own mind against the backdrop of the world.

Times like when you’ve been driving for so long that you’ve spaced out and started contemplating strange things, some even bordering suicidal. You become so attuned to the sound of your infinitesimal existence that you begin to fade in and out of your surroundings. You start forgetting where you end and they begin, and so suicidal thoughts aren’t so much melancholy or malicious as they are sobering.

It suddenly occurs to you that you could drift onto the median and watch as your car swerves, tumbles and careens from a third person perspective. Or maybe gently let go of the wheel and let the tires take you where they will…

You’d be content and at peace with this too, because the blinding truth that you once knew as you floated in the embryonic fluid of your mother’s uterus has suddenly re-dawned on you.   And this truth is that you are but a tiny piece of shrapnel in the cosmic explosion that is the universe.

And that’s not to say that you are without cause or without purpose. Just that you are only a microscopic cog in the mechanic master plan, and you realize that if you were to fade out a little “too” early, another microscopic cog would quickly lock into position and take your place.

And this happenstance wouldn’t even have to be sad, or unfortunate, or particularly depressing. It could be just another beautiful explosion of a sun. Another pinprick fading in the fabric of our sky.

~LDA