Dealing with depression is not something new. Many of my friends have had and/or are continuing their battles with depression. For me; however, that’s a different story. The likelihood that I have been waging my own battle for much longer than I have realized is most likely pretty high. To be honest and open, I managed to get really good at hiding many of the things that I have uncovered in my life recently…even from myself.
Thirty days. Everything can change. In a little more than thirty days, I have turned my life upside down. Everything changed. And some of it, not for the better. But in that time span, I also found out more about myself than I had wanted to know. About parts of me that I had kept below the water-line. Things that I am now finding myself trying to address the very best that I can. And it’s not easy. I am not stepping forward to face my demons. I’m stepping forward to face something a thousand-fold worse. Me.
When I had some of the people closest to me remarking that I was depressed, I initially didn’t want to believe that it was happening to me. How could it happen to me? I didn’t feel depressed, even though I really had no clue what it was like to be depressed. It took a little while for me to realize that they were all correct. I might not understand how it felt to be depressed, but they understood what it *looked* like to be depressed. And for me to cross those last steps to not only recognizing that perspective but completely agreeing with it – some drastic, and seemingly hurtful, steps were made to get me to see. But those were taken out of love and caring for me. Those steps were hurtful because I had to be shown what I needed to see. Because I needed to recognize what was happening to me. And to recognize that this was hurting others close to me.
In trying to do more personal research on the perspective, I have very few resources within Paganism. Cat Treadwell‘s excellent book “Facing the Darkness” has been my primary resource. Exercises within the book have been helpful in getting me to realize some of the destructive behaviors I have created to insulate myself from the truth of how I feel. But I needed to dig further and find more information. I ran across a blog from 2012 on DruidLife, written by Nimue Brown. Titled “Of Depression and Druidry”, one particular quote immediately found its way to my eyes.
As a Druid I have to stay open and aware. I cannot look away, ignore my responsibilities and pretend that all is well in the world. As some ambling ape-descended biology, I can’t always sustain that and keep moving. I have good days, and bad days. My body has a finite capacity for coping with distress. I try and generate hope. I do not always manage this.
I am only taking my initial steps into all of this. Trying to find ways to make my way through the swampy bog of my mind, while seeking solid ground where I can build a better understanding of who I am under all this protective muck I have created. But to read this, that there are good days and bad days, is very helpful towards allowing me to relate to issues I will deal with every day. It has taken time for me to realize that much of what I want to be within my Druidry will need to get set to the side while I deal with the bad days. That sometimes my brain will short out my ability to do the best that I can. And I will need to learn to recognize those days and find my own coping skills and mechanisms to make it through those times.
In many ways, I am a newborn in the woods, all over again. I am learning to interpret, find and walk those trails all over again. This time with a different perspective. One I had never thought would exist. Currently, I am still stumbling along the Path, tripping over the exposed roots that catch the toes of my boots. I still fall flat on my face in the dirt. It will take time for me to get used to seeing the terrain differently. And for now, that Path is empty. I walk it alone because I have to. In time, there will be others that will walk beside me. Who they are, when they arrive…that doesn’t matter. I have faith that they will. Right now, I work inwardly. Soon, I will work outwardly. Soon, I can help others as others have helped me. Because we are not in this alone.
When the dark wood fell before me.
And all the paths were overgrown.
When the priests of pride say there is no other way.
I tilled the sorrows of stone.
I did not believe because I could not see.
Though you came to me in the night.
When the dawn seemed forever lost.
You showed me your love in the light of the stars.
Cast your eyes on the ocean.
Cast your soul to the sea.
When the dark night seems endless.
Please, remember me.
–Loreena McKennitt, “Dante’s Prayer”