The doctor called it ‘moderately depressed’. This is still ‘good news’ as my only other experience of depression is ‘severe’, so ‘moderate’ feels like a win. Next time (because there always seems to be a bloody next time) I hope to reach the lofty lows of mild depression.
But for now I am moderately depressed a.k.a. not ok.
And I am ok with this.
I am ok with not being ok. Because not being ok has become… useful to me. Let me explain.
To start with, finding out I was ‘not ok’ was not a huge surprise.
It’s midwinter where I live, so I’m both a little sad and a little SAD - I have Seasonal Affective Disorder or ‘winter blues’. I’m no fan of labels, so let’s just say a rose by any other name would feel as shit, and I struggle in the winter. Many of us do.
I think it’s because we have created a world that goes against our nature. We are designed to oscillate - to swing back and forth between states of being in a beautiful dance with the universe.
Earth pirouettes and night follows day. We waltz with our moon to play peek-a-boo with the sun. And together we link arms to do the endless dosey-doe celebrated in the cycle of seasons. Losing touch with these rhythms disrupts our basic harmony, and that is often most discordant in winter. This is when nature begs us to hibernate like a cosmic DJ stripping everything back to the ‘break’. But society demands we keep on raving rather than catch our breath before the bass drops in spring.
So like many I have the usual list of self-care things to do - yoga, meditate, practise gratitude, sing, dance, eat well, sleep well, be in nature, be with people when I can. And most importantly, have peace with being a duvet-dweller when these all seem undoable.
On top of the sad/SAD (or perhaps because of it) there’s some tough stuff from childhood rising to the surface that won’t go back in the box I usually store it in. And whilst I’m all for a solid maladaptive coping mechanism (pass the chocolate ice cream), sometimes l like to really feel the awfulness of not being ok.
Access my inner Coronation Street. Crank the drama and see how strong my feelings can be, then step back and watch the hot, snotty mess blubber out of me.
I’ve heard it called different things… gotta feel it to heal it, embrace your own shadow, witness the ‘samskaras’ of repeating patterns. Whatever it is, now and again I like to lift the lid and rummage through ‘the box of things I’d like to sort out one day so they stop influencing my life in ways I can’t see’.
And this is where not being ok is useful to me.
When I’m feeling ok, I’m less connected to the box. The lid is pretty firmly on and, beyond the usual ebb and flow of life, I’m… ok.
Except of course there’s part of me that isn’t ok. The stuff in the box is still there and is shaping how I think, feel and behave. I’m just a little better at either not noticing or dealing with it. It’s only when I’m not ok that I get the chance to reclaim the flotsam and jetsam of parts of my life that feel wrecked.
Like just before the doctor’s visit, when distress had been rising within me like the tide. The tears were coming in crashing waves of sadness. As they peaked, I worried I was losing my mind and may never make it back to solid ground. Then at some point I tried letting go of that worry - I was already feeling sad, so feeling sad about feeling sad felt unnecessarily cruel. Once the meta-sadness left, I could see the actual sadness for what it was.
A little boy in a grown-up’s body who just wanted consoling.
Like when you fall off your bike, scuff your knee and run to your mum sobbing. You know the stingy cream and a plaster is coming to make it all better. But first she cries ‘oooh, that must hurt!’ then she hugs you so close her love eclipses your pain.
For me there is something beautiful in this.
Not just knowing that life beyond this will be lighter somehow, more easeful. But also beauty right here, right now in the gentle, tender, rawness of my despair that is the flipside of my desire to live my life fully and authentically.
To dance my own dance.
And if you'd like to explore how you can feel more ok with not being ok, let's chat.