A few weeks ago, Nimue Brown over at Druid Life wrote about depression and the loss of meaning, saying:
One of the things I find hardest about depression is the way it strips the meaning out of everything…Loss of meaning brings a loss of direction. It takes all the energy out of anything you might have been doing. It makes it impossible to see what any action might achieve or how it could be useful.
I’ve lived with depression for as long as I can remember. Some of it is biochemical, to do with the way my brain processes serotonin; some of it is environmental, rooted in a dysfunctional upbringing. It’s got better with time – the most frightening aspects of it have faded – but it’s still there.
Depression comes for me in waves and cycles. I know how to spot the early warning signs sometimes: if I’ve been very active for a long period of time with work, social life, writing, whatever, then there is likely to be a corresponding crash into inactivity and isolation. Loss of sleep, appetite or interest in things I normally enjoy are all red flags that a depressive wave is building on the horizon.
And then sometimes I don’t notice. Sometimes it’s easy to go through life without realising that every day is starting to feel like the last, that I’m becoming more numb, waking without being rested, going to work like a zombie doing the minimum I can to get by, coming home exhausted, not exercising, not caring what I eat or drink, and collapsing in bed at the end of it all, knowing I won’t sleep despite how tired I feel.
I can do that for a few weeks at most before it really hits, and knocks me off my feet and means I have to take time off work, especially when the mental awfulness is accompanied by physical symptoms: headaches, migraine, nausea, fatigue, confusion.
It’s at times like this that my spiritual life suffers most of all: and ironically it’s at times like this that I need the benefits of a spiritual practice most of all. Meditation has been shown to have positive effects on depression (Goyal, Singh, Sibinga, et al, 2014). Yet when in the midst of depression’s fog of lethargy, finding the motivation to meditate is next to impossible. And I can’t form ideas at these times well enough to write, reading gives me headaches, and fatigue prevents me from going walking in the woods. So Druidry kind of dries up.
All of this is to offer some explanation for my erratic to non-existent posting on here lately. But as my body has made me ill again, I see this as its way of telling me to rest, so I have been. Hopefully this will help, because I have lots I want to do.
I had a lovely comment on one of my old 30 Weeks of Druidry posts the other day that really made my day, knowing that someone was reading my thoughts and finding them interesting. I hope to pick up the 30 Weeks again, and actually commit to weekly postings, as well as the Explorations in Ogham series that has fallen by the wayside a bit too.
I read a few health and fitness websites from time to time, and one message I remember seeing quite often is that motivation alone won’t get anything done. If you only exercise, or write, or practice on days when you feel motivated, then those practices will fail at the first demotivated day. But if you build up discipline and do those things whether you feel like it or not, then the momentum of just doing it should help to carry you through the slump and out the other side. And I have no doubt there will be an other side; I’ve been through enough depressive cycles to know that if I ride it out, I’ll have another period of stability and normality again (for a week, a month, a year – how long I don’t know).
But riding it out sucks. Depression sucks. Literally: it sucks your energy, optimism, hope, and joy. I don’t know if it can be beaten, but it can (it must) be lived with.
So, I lifted some very light dumbbells this morning before I had to give up and lie down on the floor; then I sat at my shrine and meditated for a whole three minutes (wow, right?), and drew a divination reading that felt very hopeful. I’ve been out in the garden for a bit. And I’ve written this rambling nonsense, so hey…blog win? They’re tiny steps, embarrassingly small, but they’re not nothing. And the fog is starting to shift.
See you on Sunday for another 30 Weeks of Druidry post, on Wednesday for another Explorations in Ogham post, and then again on Friday for a review of a great new Druidry book I’ve just finished reading. See, I’m doing stuff!
Until then, take care, and if you feel any of this sounds familiar, here are some resources to help: