Friday, May 14, 2010

I found the square hole.

Remember about a week ago when I was riffing on a compost metaphor? It wasn't right, but it felt true . . . and now I know why.

It was incomplete and was basically being a square peg in a round hole. I just had to find the right home for it. Talking to my sister the other day, we discussed Depression. I can easily list more than five people in my family alone that suffer with this dis-ease. I am one of them.

I have been told and understand that Clinical Depression is chemical. I, myself, have gone the route of pills and medicine. In my experience (which does not negate the experience of another person) these things were much like muffling a gun-shot or wearing noise-canceling headphones: the gun and the noise is still there, you are just a little separated from it. Unless of course you had the misfortune to miss a pill, in which case the feelings overcame you in a mindless rush. For many, medication is the solution to their problem.

For me, it was not. Or rather, it was a short term band-aid on a wound that would not heal.

For me, and for many who I speak with, Depression and Anxiety go hand in hand. Depression is more of a "What's the point?" approach to life experiences. This leads us to find no joy in activities, in people or in the day to day events that spice the human life. Is is a give up attitude.

Anxiety compliments the big D, but is different because the Anxiety-ridden mind is ravaged by thought: ALL THE TIME. "What if this" and "What if that" and other misuses of imagination keep the afflicted persons from seeing and handling joy because they expect an awful, startling"BOO!" around every corner. They expect things to go wrong, likely because they have had that experience more often than not in their lives. The one condition could be illustrated by a tiger kept indoors, de-clawed and virtually toothless: laying there waiting to be acted upon, knowing he has no power to alter his life. The other condition could be characterized by just about any animal in a cage that once knew how it felt to roam free: pacing, fearing capture, fearing the unknown.

Simply said: Depression is fear coupled with despair. Anxiety is fear coupled with panic.

And both stem from fear.

A few years ago I was taught that the foods I eat contribute to my "chemical imbalance." To answer that, I changed my diet and periodically shake things up in regard to my vitamins and minerals. By doing so, I can today mentally cancel out what I perceive to be an emotion by going over what I have eaten that day. So: progress. I learned to understand the difference between "emotion" and "sensation." Sensations I can release, knowing they require little more than the passage of time to re-balance.

Around the same time, I began uncovering and examining my fears. Then I took steps to de-fang my fears. Frank Hurbert said it best in Dune: "Fear is the mind killer." I arm myself with the question posed by Wildman: "What's the worst that could happen?" And, so armed, I face the fear mentally and dance around it, negating the primal response of panic.

I have learned through much introspection which of my past experiences formed the reaction of Depression, and which formed the reaction of Anxiety. From that lesson, I can predict which experiences in future may trigger D&A reactions. Marry that information with what I know about me and food, I can either sidestep the situation altogether or handle it with grace as it happens.

Okay: So what does this have to do with Composting?

Life experiences pile up on our souls whether or not we want them to. They do. They pile up in our memories, the emotions pile up in our subconscious and become a heap of life weighing down our souls. Right? Or:

Could we compost?

If we imagine that each experience is tossed onto the pile of our past experiences, we have the choice to let them rot or to turn them over - mull them over - with the future in mind, with use, with learning in mind. Then we can take the experiences and spread that learning, that nutrient rich mass of knowledge around our current choices and be wise. In that way, our past nourishes our present and grows a healthy future!

As Moneo observed of Leto "I fear the unknown . . . You see everything that we know: the unknown . . . must be something new for you to know."

And it is!

The Depressed, the Anxiety-ridden: we are set apart by our seeming inability to change our lives, change our feelings or control the way we think. We cavort about as victims of our past actions, even our past in-actions haunt us in a most crippling way. We become hobbled versions of our true selves.

Now I say to you with what power I posses: It does not HAVE to be so! The idea that we are unable victims is false. We are able! We are accountable! We are powerful! We have the ability to take our past and choose to make it rot or compost, poison or antidote, fear or hope.

Is it easy? At first, no. Does it take work and focus and time? The answer to that is always yes. There are those who may read this post and decide within themselves that medication is right for them. Great. I'm not downplaying the good that drugs do for some. They gave me a much needed break. Choices are awesome and I am all for them.

This post is for me. It is to better understand where I have been and what I have learned from it. This post is so that I may remember this lesson when I feel over-run with emotion again: because it is inevitable in my nature. But this knowledge can keep me from hitting that bottom rock named "despair."

And hey, if someone out there learns something or thinks to themselves, "I'm as cool as Sayyadina; I bet I could use my powers of sensitivity for good instead of evil." (good being progression and learning while evil is cyclical self-loathing and self-damnation) Well, then I say: "You're right. I have the names and numbers of a few fantastic Life Coaches, should you require assistance." Because although I may be cool and I may be smart, beautiful and funny, I was not always so: (Okay, I was always beautiful.) I learned these truths from and with those who were kind and patient enough to guide me through the tangle that was my Self.

Now I function 97% of the time, not as a tangled mass of emotion and unconnected thought, but as a well strung Cello. And that other 3%? I work to keep it in perspective and don't give it any room to take root. Or leave rot.

I choose to compost. How about you?


Lori said...

i love this. i agree, depression is an ongoing fight but it's your choice in approaching the matter that makes all the difference.

count me in on composting.

Fedaykin said...


CowboyBob said...

A thought provoking metaphor. Thank you. I like it.