Naming Names

The practice of self-observation begins with a desire and a resolution on your part:

“I want to know what really is, regardless of how I prefer things to be.”

Charles Tart

Depression doesn’t blast through the door with a stinky cigar, bellowing a dirty joke.  At least not for me.  Depression seeps through the cracks, faint fog, barely noticeable except for the prickling under my skin.  Uneasiness creeps up on me slowly, and a drive to name it takes over.

“I’m tired,” I think this morning.  “I don’t need to go to the Y every day.  Most people don’t do that.”

Another part of me answers back, “Ah, but you’re not most people.  You work out to take care of your brain, a brain that needs all the help it can get.”

I keep up this conversation for an hour before I finally pull on my swimsuit and go to the Y.  As I drive through the bitter cold, I think, “I’m worried about rewriting Callinda.  Maybe I’m getting another cold.”

The uneasiness keeps building and my mind tries desperately to find a name for it.  Any name but the real one.

Normally, this drama runs for a few minutes, sometimes a few hours, but eventually Denial drops his pants and the bare-naked truth is revealed. Depression is the name I’ve been avoiding.

In that moment, part of me feels defeated.  Once again I’ve failed to stave off the demon with magical thinking.  Like a child scared of the dark, I shut my eyes and whisper, “It’s not there, it’s not there.”  And even when I acknowledge it’s Depression I’m dealing with, I hold onto the illusion that this time I’ll find a way to pull out of its gravitational orbit. If I can just find the control panel and hit the booster rocket button…

The drive to fight is a hard one to surrender.  But, like Eckhart Tolle says, resisting what is only wastes energy and creates suffering.

The truth is, at that moment of recognition, another part of me feels relieved.  The rest of my day reorders itself around managing instead of resisting.  A gentleness arises that releases the pressure to be normal or productive or whatever judgment I’ve put on myself.  Time slows and the Now expands.  What do I need now?  What am I capable of now?

When I settle into this place, I recognize Depression and Hypomania as the Constant Companions that they are.  And again, today, we dance.

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