My Dark Place
I have a dark place. I don’t know if I can call it depression. One, out of respect for those who have it worse. Two, because we don’t talk about it.
Now I know mental health is a huge talking point and awareness of it has been on the forefront of campaigns and strategies in Ireland and internationally for some years now. The aim, to benefit those who cannot speak of it, families and friends who don’t know how to deal with it, and to save people from themselves.
But we still don’t talk about it.
We talk about it, as if it is over there. The thing called the label – mental health, suicide, depression… The thing that other people have, are or do. Other communities deal with it. The people on the couch discussing their story, offering help, raising money and awareness of the supports/charities/7 step plans/professional services can help them to a better place. They are talking about it. They are telling those people who need the help where it is and how to find it. That’s a great service, me thinks, for them.
But we don’t talk about ourselves in it. Ourselves. Our feelings. Identifying what the “it” that might be inside of us. Even when we have all this help and awareness around us we still are not connecting inside of ourselves. We want to get away from it. Whatever it is that's inside of us that is uncomfortable, we bury, disassociate, remove, push away.
Because when we feel like that we don’t feel like talking. We don’t feel like being in company and dragging our friends and loved ones down. We don’t know what to talk about when all the thoughts in your head are self-loathing and really don’t sound good out loud. Also talking might give us away and we don’t even know how we are. We could be judged. We feel physically low with patterns of tiredness or pain. Raging thoughts or physical pain can interfere with a night’s sleep that can lend itself to the downward cycle. Bags under eyes, dull skin and poor posture all tell the world something is down, but often we think we are covering it up, keeping it in.
Oh look! I have started identifying as we. The arrogance! How do I know what we feel? I can barely figure out what I feel for myself. I must speak from my “I”.
I have spent some years watching how my year goes and noticing the winter lows. It’s not as bad now as it was, due to my awareness of the feelings, the signs and my ability to accept some down time before I find my way back. But for a long time I didn’t accept that I was low, that I could be something called “depressed” or even use the word. We are a family who got on and did. There was no time or education spent on not getting on with it, regardless of what is thrown at you. And hey I have the tools in my work to deal with it, to live up and be happy.
About 6 or 7 years ago in the middle of a dark period, I had arranged to go to exchange work with a colleague. Normally we would meet up and work on each other, but sometimes it would be one way and reciprocated another time. Even though I thought it was going to be a reciprocal event this time, my colleague saw me coming, gave up any thoughts for himself and put me on the table.
We were talking and I was telling him of my day and how I was coming from a lesson with my favourite client, a man in his 80’s who I loved spending time with. We would chat and I would attempt to Alexander him. He relished his independence and the goal was to keep him moving as his health ailed. But I think I got more from the relationship, his wisdom and charm, than he did. Anyway he had been an Opera singer in his youth and this day he brought a Wagner cd as a gift and we played it, focusing on a particular track he wanted to share with me. When I described the music to my friend he identified it as the most depressing music he had ever heard and questioned should I be working at all in my state.
Well I nearly fell off the table laughing at the acknowledgment and realisation that I
I’m not sure why I am telling this story, but I suppose it was a first step in awareness that I was one of them. One of the ones (millions) they were talking about on the TV couches when the subject was mental health and depression. And my realisation came as I laughed. Not when I was crying.
My separations, them and me, mind and body, happy and sad, far away and small, were coming together in a new way.
But this is the thing. Aren’t we each “one of the ones” they are talking about? Don’t we ALL have something to learn from listening to our feelings and our bodies, rather than splitting, pushing away, burying, braving, holding it together? Why is mental health somebody else’s job?
We all need help to feel safe. We need help when we can't do for ourselves. Help to find the tools, to listen, and be listened to, to support, to not isolate when all you want to do is hide or leave.
I needed to realise help is all around. That I, we, live in an ocean of help but we just won’t take the water. Asking for help is the hardest thing, especially when we don’t even think we need it. But there are simple things we can do to help ourselves on our way. Just do something to realise we are NOT on our own.
All I’m saying is that I am not separate to everything around me, even when I think I am or want to be.
Love Fiona x
These are simple things I do to reconnect.
Go for a walk. One foot in front of the other. Short distance or far, just leave the house.
Attempt a half arsed smile at a passer-by. They are not judging me. It's only a few seconds in time and they will be gone.
Pet a dog or a cat. Feel their fur, the heat of their body, movement.
Lean on a tree. Let it support me.
Stick my nose near a flower. I don’t even have to do anything to let the smell into my nostrils.
Put a hand or a bare foot in a river and let the water roll over, feeling the gentle pressure of it. Deliciously refreshing through my skin.
Sit by the sea and watch the rolling waves, incessantly moving.
Spend time with my natural self in nature, even if it's just sitting on the small green patch outside my house. Get out of the box I live in.
For help to find your internal supports, contact me, join a class or come for a lesson - Classes . I can help you help yourself.
I am Fiona and I am exploring themes of meeting resistances and allowing ways through. The constant weeding, recognising the stuff that's in the way to live easier.