Over years, and ever so slowly sinking in: I must accept my states of ‘ill ease’ (aka depression) in order to suffer less from them.
It seems a great deal of what we see out in the world is a bunch of smoke and mirrors. Our social media profiles are sanitized at best; complete falsities at worst. I try and remain honest in my updates, but I know I tend to sometimes scrub away some of the dirt. The other night, my friend – who is around the same level in her own business as I am – as we both grumbled about the raw frustrations of building our dream, said, “Isn’t the point of all this to be authentic? Isn’t that what we are trying to change from the way things have always been done?”
“We teach best what we most need to learn.” – Richard Bach
It’s hard to admit to depression when your business is steeped in lifting others up. And guiding them in the ways to lift themselves up. I speak of things that have worked for me, transcending what might have been considered clinical depression in my 20s (if I had gone to a therapist who had classified in that way), without the help of pharmaceuticals (may I add here as I always do, no judgment on anyone that has taken that path. I have seen it work wonders for many friends, and have even guided a few in that direction if nothing else seems to be working). I have learned and embodied that a spiritual practice is a necessary component to healing; there’s no way around the feeling of emptiness that depression brings if you don’t connect to something bigger.
But in those moments, on top of feeling listless and head deep under the pillow, I feel like a fraud. Because the truth is, I don’t feel happy 100% of the time. I do still experience episodes of ‘ill ease’, though the flavor, intensity, and vibe of them has changed greatly over the years.
I don’t suffer from SAD; in fact, I love the winter fiercely. But I’ve been feeling the draw of the sun and the sand and the day where I don’t worry about money, how to best grow my business, how to not look at how far I feel I haven’t come.
I pretty desperately tried to make a beach trip happen this week, but it wasn’t meant to be. So instead, I ‘escaped’ to Lake James, the literal and figurative closest thing I could get to the beach this week.
When I got there, the beach part was closed until May 1. But I found my own little beach spot, and settled in.
My ‘ill ease’ has always tasted of the flavor of not being enough. Every person’s sadness, dis-ease, and/or depression has its own root, and can be multiplied by a number of things. My ground floor of not being enough can get piled on by things going on in the life of people close to me, and the horrors of the world magnified seemingly daily, particularly those things that impact women directly.
It often seems if the emotion starts somewhere else other than my head. One day, I can be upset about something happening in my work or in the world, but I’m able to let it go and move on if my body/mind is feeling good. Other times, it’s as if I just wake up in that place that there’s no visualizing, meditating, or fighting my way out of. It’s deep and heavy and envelops me even as I pull and tug and try to rip it off.
The fight to remain positive. The struggle to be in a place of gratitude. The essential oils, the movement, the going outside or to a new place, all the things that usually bring me joy, just…don’t.
And every time, the ambitious and plodding Capricorn Sun and Mars doesn’t want to give up. But nothing gets better until I finally do.
Realizations on a beach (even if it’s Lake James), or in nature, are the only ones that really work for me these days. It’s because they feel embodied, not just intellectual. They settle in without the drive to make them true.
At I sat on that small strip of sand near the water, I had another wave of what I’ve felt before, but obviously still need to learn: I will ALWAYS face moments of ‘ill ease’ in my life. This is part of my journey and path, and no matter how many spiritual people that I admire tell me it doesn’t have to be this way, or Law of Attraction people tell me I’m bringing it upon myself, or mainstream-America friends that tell me I could turn to legal drugs to get rid of it, the power is in my acceptance of my shadow side. Not only acceptance, but giving it room to breathe.
I witness that the more breath I allow it, the less it actually does what I fear it will do – take over. It hops around on the playground for a while, then tires and looks for a place to nap. Those naps become more like hibernations as I continue my growth, and they no longer come with a wrecking ball that plows through the merry-go-rounds and teeter-totters.
But that shadow always needs some space to come back to and swing on the monkey bars and throw its arms in the air on the slide.