I wasn’t sure what to write about today. I totally fell off the bandwagon with my Lenten Meditation, and while I’d like to complete that quest (so to speak), I also feel like it’s too far gone and I should just let it lie.
So, here I am. I spent a couple of hours in the SSU Campus Garden today, pulling weeds. I like pulling weeds. It’s really a good meditative exercise for me. I can really get in touch with my feelings when I’m pulling weeds. There are generally two ways to pull weeds — hand pull them one by one, or use a garden fork and pull out great big swaths of them. Each serves a purpose when using weeding as meditation. When I’m feeling contemplative or quiet, I like the hand-pulling method. When I’m feeling either exuberant or angry, the massive weeding done by pitchfork is great.
Today was a quiet contemplative day. As I told the cute little volunteers who showed up at the garden to get extra credit for their class, “I’m in no mood to do any serious work, so let’s just sit and be quiet and pull out these little weeds before they get too big. We’ll leave the big stuff for another time.”
I don’t want to give you the impression that I was upset or depressed, though. I was just tired. And I had some delicate things on my mind that are best dealt with delicately. No need for forks. This was a time for precision work. Fortunately, there was a bed of lettuce that had been overrun with weeds and wildflowers, and so I could work at pulling out the things that didn’t belong, while protecting the things that did.
And, while I worked, I could let my mind work around my thoughts, figuring out what belongs and what doesn’t. Strangely, I kept coming back to how I felt very fortunate in how my life is going right now. It’s strange to say, but I feel like even though I was a total and complete flake during the month of March, things are better for me now than they have been in a while. Sure, my grades are going to be solid Bs, but that’s OK. I accepted the fact that I was putting my GPA on a lower priority a while ago. It’s not easy, but I can live with it.
The thing is that a month ago, I felt like my life was falling apart. I felt like I was a terrible friend, a terrible student, a terrible person. Which proves to me that Depression lies. It’s a terrible liar, but when it has its hold over me, I believe it. I can’t fight off the awful things it says. It tells me some really awful things.
I don’t know if the medicine is helping, or it it’s just that things in my life have shifted, or (more likely) a combination of both, but I’m feeling better. I feel like I’m actually working toward something, and in some kind of control over my life. I’m not sure I could have said that convincingly a month ago.
What’s changed? I’m not really sure. As with most depression episodes, the factors are so complex and varied, it’s impossible to pin it on any one thing. The weather is better. My work/life/school situation is somewhat better. Personal life issues are better. But, really, it’s more than just that.
Which is why I still think it’s a good thing that I decided to go the pharmaceutical route this time. I don’t think I would be where I am right now (which is still quite far from where I’d like to be, really, but still worlds better than where I was) without that extra bit of help.
I know too many people who are also struggling with depression. Some of you have shared your stories with me, some I can see from afar, and some I just know because I recognize it. I want to tell you that no matter how horrible you feel, YOU are not horrible. And if you need a hand, please do not think twice about asking for it. There’s no shame in seeking help when you’re lost in the woods. I know our culture has some kind of weird fetish with pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, but when it comes to mental health (and, frankly, pretty much anything else), it’s OK to ask for help when you need it. Even if it’s just someone to sit and hold your hand. Even if it’s just to know that someone will be waiting for you when you come out of the dark tunnel.
And, really, no matter what you think you know about the folks around you, I’ll wager that most really do know what it’s like, even if they don’t show it.