It’s a strange time. I am not sure what to do with it.
I have lived most of the last fifteen years in a place of struggle. I have struggled with depression, with a failed marriage, struggling to re-find my footing spiritually, in my work, creatively. I have floundered without purpose. Even the simplest of tasks, day to day stuff, was hard. I had to fight myself to call people and deal with everyday issues. Every day was a battle. Some days a pitched battle.
I got through. I did some good work. I did some good things. I failed sometimes. But always, the struggle. The struggle to understand, to know how to fight through it. to make sure it affected the people around me as little of possible. To be strong for those who needed me strong, like my kids, like my clients, like… It was a struggle to know how much to share. Fighting through depression and its symptoms should be seen as heroic, but I am a realist – many see it as weak, or self-indulgent, or exaggerated. How much to share to be honest and yet not make myself unpalatable to those around me or potential clients? How to be honest about the battle without making myself look, falsely, as if I was unable to function fully and serve well?
A struggle each morning, to get up. To shift my strategies as my depression, so adaptable and ever changing in its own tactics, changed day to day. A struggle to feel loved. A struggle to be productive. A struggle. Always a struggle. Some days relatively easy. Some days unbearably hard. A struggle to keep at it, to accept that it is a chronic thing. This is my lot. This is the chemistry in my head and it’s byproducts and that’s just that.
Only, the last couple of weeks, there has been no struggle.
It’s not that life has been any different or suddenly easier. I have challenges – two cars that seem to be taking turns breaking down for the last month or so, challenges at work pushing me to grow, challenges as a pastor. The challenges of a son preparing to go to college, all the normal stuff of life that we all have.
That’s what is different. The normalness of it. I don’t feel beat up over it. When that ordinary stuff happens, I don’t have to push back the feeling that I’m going down the tubes, that it’s too much, that I don;t know if I can handle it.
This, I tell myself, is what normal people feel like.
It’s kind of nice. But I don’t know what to do with it. Do I trust it? Do I let myself believe it is my new normal, my new status quo? Or do I become more vigilant, wondering where the next attack will come from, where my mind will betray me next?
Actually, it’s really nice. And with it comes a benefit I never expected. Colors are brighter, richer. I know, weird, but true. The fall is beyond dazzling this year, way brighter than last year. Only, people tell me, it’s not. It’s about the same as last year. Houses, Cars, People’s clothes. The woman I love’s green eyes. Signs. The patina on antiques. All brighter, more vivid. Like God suddenly upped the saturation of the whole world for my benefit.
What’s that about?
You have no idea how I hope it’s my new norm. Particularly the color thing. It’s magical.
But I don’t know what to do with it. Do I trust it? Do I fear it? So far, I am enjoying the heck out of it. But I am not to the place where I feel I can trust it. It might be a lull before the next onslaught. OR it might be something else, the life I remember before my depression.
When I first came to understand what was wrong with me, my therapist worked hard to help me learn to live day to day, moment to moment. It was a long journey for me to get there, but get there I did, and it’s governed my life ever since. I live in the moment. I don’t dwell too much on the past. I don’t get all worked out about the future. I live here. Now. If the moment is good, I savor it as I never was able to do before. When it’s bad, I don’t dwell or make it more than what it is, a bad moment that will pass.
Now. That is how I have gotten through the past decade and half. Sure I could survive the now because it would pass. Sure I could keep up the battle now. And if I didn’t, I would pick up to fight again, if I could just survive the moment.
And that is what I am trying to just now. Not to second guess it, one way or another. Just to savor it. The color. The feeling, for the first time in many many years, of being enough. The strange place of having no real battles to fight, of simply being able to deal with life. If this ends today, it’s been nice. If it goes on, well you may have to pardon me for my bad dancing. But sometimes it leaks out.
My writing is floundering a bit. I have written mostly to sort things out in my head. Right now, I don’t have much to sort. So I find myself writing from memory, or from others around me and their struggles. I keep up the habit because it’s healthy for me. It’s a spiritual discipline. I’ve learned what happens to me when I don’t and it’s not a pretty picture. But right now, it’s an odd thing, a new thing.
I’ll figure it out.
Those of you who don’t fight depression or anxiety? Take some time this morning to celebrate. You have a good gig. It’s worth being grateful for. Whether or not this place in life lingers or not, I’m grateful for the reprieve, and the reminder that life is as glorious as I remember.
And those who have struggled with me these many years? Hang in there. We never know when the clouds will lift, or for how long, But when they do?
Be well. Travel wisely,