rolling downhill

Oh my word, I’m so depressed. I thought I was experience a lot of fatigue, possibly more of the fibro flare but no, definately depression. This morning when I got up I was barely moving when I went to the gym; just sort of lumbering along doing the best I could. I only managed 5 minutes on the treadmill to warm up. Affterwards I went a social get together and a meeting, basically feeding off their energy to survive. When I got home I passed out. I never, ever nap so that should have clued me in but it didn’t. I was getting some things done with my Fall organizing and cleaning so didn’t think much of it. The thing is, I don’t have traditional depression, mine is agitated depression meaning I have excess, or rather, chaotic energy while feeling near suicidally low.

Isn’t this fun?

Tonight was sangha night and this week we sat 3 25-minute rounds with 10 minutes kinhin (walking meditation) in between. I was considering strongly not going. I’m glad I did go because if sitting zazen doesn’t show you what your head is doing then I don’t know what will.

What came up?

My utter lack of purpose in life and my complete lack of any contribution whatsoever. I’m pretty much existing and that was fine for a long time. I’m not one of those people who feel I need a purpose in life. For me, that leads to disappointments because coupled with purpose is expectations and those are dangerous for me! But what hit me so hard was, “what’s the point?” What is the point of my existence anyway? Is it to just take up space till I die? Is it just to contribute to the economy? I mean really… I live alone, no family around, no career, I’m not even volunteering anymore so what’s the point of my being here?

Sound suicidal?

No, I’m not that. I’m giving you a tiny peak into my brain when I’m depressed. Like everytime I’m depressed this happens. I have no control over it. The sooner I remmeber that this will pass the better. It doesn’t feel like it’s going to pass but it always does. The best way to explain it to people who have never experienced true physical depression (biochemically based, not situational) is this. Imagine you ate something bad and got food poisoning. You pretty much feel like you’re going to die and if it’s really bad, your brain is kind of actually wanting you to. It’s all encompassing and clouds all judgments about everything else. That is similar to what depression is like. Life can be perfect, beautiful, wonderful but when I’m depressed, everything is horrible, tragic and awful. It feels hopeless and it becomes hard to find reasons to go on. I’ve gone through this so many times that the tiny part of my brain still attached to a blip of rationality shoots forth a signal saying, “wait… just wait… it’ll pass.”

Instead of focusing on my breath, as is the normal zazen practice, I decided to observe the chaos of depression in my head to see if I could learn anything. The one useful thing that came up with my 2nd personal vow: I vow to be patient and loving to myself especially when pain and suffering are present. Depression is definiately suffering so patience, kindness, perseverence… keep on keeping on.

The following poem is one of my favorites. It’s nice to pull out and read every now and again so I’ll share it here with you in case anyone finds it a useful addition to their toolbox.

The fighting spirit

I fight a battle every day, against discouragement and fear;
Some foe stands always in my way, the path ahead is never clear!
I must forever be on guard against the doubts that skulk along;
I get ahead by fighting hard, but fighting keeps my spirit strong.

I hear the croakings of Despair, the dark predictions of the weak;
I find myself pursued by Care, no matter what the end I seek;
My victories are small and few, it matters not how hard I strive;
Each day the fight begins anew; but fighting keeps my hopes alive.

My dreams are spoiled by Circumstance, my plans are wrecked by Fate or Luck;
Some hour, perhaps, will bring my chance, but that great hour has never struck;
My progress has been slow and hard, I had to climb and crawl and swim.
Fighting for every stubborn yard, but I have kept in fighting trim.

I have to fight my doubts away, and be on guard against my fears;
The feeble croaking of Dismay has been familiar through the years;
My dearest plans keep going wrong, events combine to thwart my will.
But fighting keeps my spirits strong, and I am undefeated still!

S. E. Kiser

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