Thoughts: Knocking Down the Wall

The Wall

It is seven twenty-five as I start writing this. I am sitting at my local diner, a cup of coffee set off to the left of my laptop. I am off to a late start.

It was the wall again. Waking up and it’s there. My daily dose of depression.

I wonder at it sometimes. Each day I beat it back. I am quite skilled, well medicated, well armed. I have a routine that works. Mostly, I am a happy little warrior, dealing with the day to day stuff of life with one hand, while with the other slashing away at my enemy.

I almost always win, and there is a lot of satisfaction in that, because I know how easy it is to lose, how easy it is to let my guard down, to surrender. For all the equipping, all the prayer, all the diligence, it’s still work, and a lot of people give in.

I don’t blame them.  At times I envy them. I get tired of the battle. That whole “just let it win” thing? Very attractive at times. I wasn’t born a warrior. I was born a poet. But I’ve become one.

Mostly because I am greedy.

I am greedy for life. I am greedy for joy. I want to feel fully, to rejoice with all that I am. To feel love and passion. To experience pride of work well done and battles won. To savor a good cup of coffee and deep conversation. To lose myself in the colors of nature and the colors of fine art.

I had all those things once, and lost them, a variety of factors beating them out of me for decades until finally, I was a shell. The depression had won. I was just another set of bones on Ezekiel’s valley. (See Ezekiel 37:1-14).

Most of us stay dead. A few of us don’t.

I didn’t. My path back is well documented, both here in my blog and in my book, Dancing with Depression. It’s old news to regular readers.

I wish my path back could be something heroic. That there was virtue and purpose in it. That it could be the stuff of movies. Mostly though, it’s because I was hard headed and greedy.

Hard headed, because as I finally got the help I needed and began learning the things that had torn me down, I got mad. I still get mad when I think of them. All sorts of contributing factors: people, circumstances, fate, my own body’s betrayal.

Something in me, an innate hard-headedness, got mad. Got angry. Stayed angry. You have to understand that I am not generally an angry person, so this was new to me. I didn’t know what to do with it. But angry I was. Angry I still am.

How dare they tear away at my essence like that? How dare they rip away at my joy? What right did they have to steal my energy, my drive, my purpose? The more I understood, the angrier I got.

Mostly, in today’s world, we think anger is a bad thing. And Lord knows, it can be. But, properly managed, harnessed, brought under our control, anger can be a magnificent tool. It has a power we lack in our day to day life, and brought to bear on problems and issues and even depression, it can help us overcome all odds. Because things tend to wilt under the barrage of anger.

Even Depression.

Depression sometimes makes people angry. If you have lived with a person suffering with depression, you might have experienced it. It’s an anger born of frustration, but often it is turned on the people around us, or worse, turned inward on ourselves.

But it can also be turned on depression itself. It can be weaponized and fuel our fight. It can be our secret weapon. It can give us a power to defeat something larger than ourselves.  You’ve seen those silly internet videos of the tiny cat terrifying the giant dog or even a bear?  It’s like that.

If we can learn to turn our anger against depression itself, we have a powerful weapon. I use it almost every day. I used it this morning, when I woke up and wanted to stay in bed, not in a healthy “isn’t this cozy” kind of way but in a “I wanna give up.” kind of way.

And I got pissed.

Please note the curse word. I am not a curser. People who know me well know this. So when I break bad and use a “bad” word, people know I mean business.

I got pissed. I threw the covers off with passion. I jumped out of bed and said, “Take that!”. I put on my clothes with purpose. I strode downstairs with a “Don’t mess with me” attitude. My cat ran ahead of me, wondering what had gotten into me.

And so did the depression. Like the coward it is. The wall fell down at my fury. It sounds silly, but as I rounded the corner into my office, I wanted to raise my arms in victory and shout a battle cry.  But that would have been silly. All I had done is get up.

But that’s not all I had done, is it? You who fight this battle know. You who intimately know others fighting this battle also know. I had won a great victory. I had fought for something I treasure – the joy of living life, the ability to savor everything and everyone around me, the ability to live life and do work just like everyone else.

And that my friends, is worth unleashing the beast for.

Be well. Travel wisely,

Tom

PS – I had a reader ask me to write something about anger and depression. I have no idea what they expected. This is my personal experience, no more. But perhaps it will help someone. If not, it felt good writing it, like kicking the rubble from the wall after knocking it down. Like knowing I have a secret that will let others knock down their own walls. My contribution to the war.

 

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