(me then & now)
“Winning isn’t everything. The will to win is the only thing.”
It seems that some emotions or feelings such as fear of death or fear of anything really, and desire for things or people we can’t or shouldn’t have are viewed negatively by many people. Viewed as a weakness, a flaw, something to avoid at all costs. There are self-help books and teachings designed to help us not be afraid and to not desire. Not to fear death or how to overcome the fear of death, not just overcoming an unhealthy phobia but even just any natural, primitive fear of death. Not to feel desire, to not want things we do not have, to just be content with what we already have or to be happy with very little. To not want more. To not want material things because material things are bad and desire is reprehensible. To not feel disappointed if we can’t get more.
It’s like a rebellion against the media, advertising, commercialism, and consumerism.
These are good things. We don’t want fear taking over our lives or being too frequent. And it’s not good to ignore our current blessings just to want more, more, more.
Too much restlessness and ungratefulness are not good.
We often think of disappointment, the feelings we have after not succeeding or getting what we want, wanting what we can’t have, as a bad thing. Sometimes we may feel guilty for acting or feeling ungrateful.
Maybe we feel wimpy for being afraid.
But fear, hunger, and desire are beautiful things. They are not bad. They are not an indication that we are bad or wrong or ungrateful or that we need fixing. We don’t need self help books or anything to help us completely obliterate fear & desire.
It’s fantastic to be happy with very little or with everything we already have but there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging those things with gratitude while also desiring other things now & then.
I see things in a way that I would never have if I never suffered with depression. I see through a lens of depression, even when I’m not depressed. (it’s a good thing) I see through depression tinted glasses. Even when I’m very happy. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
No matter how happy I am, no matter how healed I am in general, I will never lose touch with my depressed self and the deep wisdom it has shown me. And I don’t ever want to lose touch with that part of me.
There are lessons and observations and truths bubbling in my core, ingrained into me, resting in the crevices of my brain, that I would not have come to realize any other way.
For many, many years I suffered with depression and often, very little to no desire, hunger, or fear. Many days, I did not want anything. I did not fear anything. I did not care about anything. There was no hunger for life. No hunger to win. No hunger to get better.
I often did not care if I lived or died. This was not always true. My depression would always lift after a while and I would be happy again. And often, even with depression, I would still have desire, hunger, fear. Often, I would see a carnival or amusement park or jewelry and just have to have it, even as an adult and even while depressed, I would experience joy at seeing an amusement park and run to ask my dad to take my sister and me. Even with depression, I felt the joy. But there was also that other kind of depression that would come and go and I would not have any desire at all. This depression would occur too often but was not the most common. Then all depression would leave me and I would be happy.
When I was a little girl I wanted everything. I wanted every toy in every store. I wanted to go out and play with my friends. I looked up at the sky and I hungered for more. I hungrily devoured the scents, the feels, the sights and sounds, the tastes of Nature. The taste of salt water as the strong Ocean’s waves washed over me, the feel of the dirt that got under my fingernails as I rolled around in the lot my friends and me played in. The blueness of the sky that pierced my matching oceanic blue eyes as I stared innocently into the sun until it blinded me and all I saw were specks of unknown galaxies and dark black shadows of mystery. Mysteries lost in the whites of my eyes, sparkling amidst the invisible spaces of my corneas.
Mysteries I longed to know. But loved the obscurity of.
My immense love for water bugs, roaches, and my wonder at maggots turning into flies almost matched my love for caterpillars, butterflies, songbirds, and the
colorful flowers that bloomed into Spring. This seemed to baffle most of those around me, both the other kids as well as adults. How could anyone love such ugly, repulsive things? The other kids would run screaming at the first sight of a big brown roach while I would drop to my knees in awe and watch closely as one would turn over and play dead. Then I would playfully imitate the scene, lying on my back with my arms and legs crumpled up, tongue sticking out, trying hard not to laugh. I loved the disgust on the faces of those in my audience.
Or I would watch a white maggot squirm and wonder what they’re made of. What makes them white? What gives them the ability to move? Do they have insides like people? Like me? Does a maggot have a heart? My innocent, curious little girl thoughts swirled around inside my head. There was no Internet I was aware of. I couldn’t easily look it up like I can now. So I wondered. I contemplated. I entertained an infinity of ideas, in my little girl ways.
The Internet is a great gift to the world but the absence of the Internet in childhood is also a great, valuable gift. I am happy I had no Internet.
Bumble bees never scared me like they scared the other kids, even after I was painfully stung by one in the neck and my mom had to remove the stinger as I yelled in anguish and confusion. I would chase them just to catch a glimpse of that yellow fuzz that decorates their bodies, getting as close as I can, feeling a deep connection to another living, beautiful creature. Not very unlike myself. I wanted to run my finger along that fuzz. I never killed insects or bugs out of fear, dislike, or to capture that magical green glow of fireflies in my hands, on a hot Summer night.
I knew that would be one of the worst offenses anyone can commit in this life, like stealing a star out of the sky and keeping it all to myself or taking a jellyfish out of the ocean just to see through that thick clear gelatinous body
all the way through to the spineless depths of her being.
I would look up at a navy, starless midnight sky and just know somewhere deep inside there were no stars because they all burned out, not being able to stand the heaviness and constancy of my endless, annoying wishes. I felt that they had secrets I was never meant to know. I felt both sadness and awe. Awe, a feeling of great wonder, deep inspiration, and a strange kind of fear and respect.
I couldn’t think in these words or concepts at such a young, innocent age. But I felt it in my bones. I felt it venturing throughout my veins and electrifying with each pulsation of my beautiful heart that pounds through my chest. The rhythm of life pounding through me.
I still feel it.
As a little girl, my friends and me would build tents out of sleeping bags and sheets and blankets and beach towels, building tents to huddle in and play house together, and pretending as if these tents were our hideouts deep into some lost, secluded woods where we were being chased by a big bad wolf or a deranged stranger, I noticed the rough and smooth sounds of the sheets and nylon sleeping bags as they gently brushed together. I was struck by the infinite beauty of something so simple. Time stood still.
“Listen to that! It’s like music!”
“Kim, you’re just crazy!”
I would eat fun-dip candy until my tongue bled and stung, like catching a mini falling star on the tip of my tongue as if it were a snowflake. I would stare at the white stick streaked with my blood, my beautiful life sustaining fluid, in awe. There was something wondrous about eating delicious colored powder until my little tongue started leaking pink-red blood onto white. There was something thrilling about that sting. The coppery, metallic taste in combination with the sweetness of powder. I loved the burn in my chest. I would happily run to inform my mom, as if it were my greatest accomplishment. Holding up the white stick to show her this magic I discovered. But my wonder was never met with satisfaction and praise as I always hoped. Instead my mom would tell me to quit eating the candy.
Unlike most kids I knew, I happily anticipated going back to school when Summer ended and shopping with my mom for school supplies, shoes, and clothes. I couldn’t sleep the night before my first day back. Happy, grateful thoughts raced across my mind. I wanted to get up and dance. I wondered who I would meet. What would I learn? Even now the memory of that feeling thrills me. The great potential of meeting new friends, seeing old friends, the thrill of new teachers, and learning new things I would run home to proudly share with my mom and dad. Wondering what desk I would sit at, what kids I would be grouped with, who would my work partners and playmates be…
I loved shopping not just to get the stuff but the whole feel of shopping for it with my mom, seeing all the other shoppers, the feel of the back to school spirit all around me, the endless commercials advertising impressive things for going back to school. The scent of new, blank notebooks with white, lined pages just waiting to be filled and freshly sharpened pencils and broken crayons in a multitude of fascinating colors with fascinating names. “Tickle me pink.”
The big fruit scented markers in a disarray of colors and soft, squishy pencil erasers that felt like rubbery cement upon my fingertips. The various shapes of pencil sharpeners. I even loved the idea of white-out and couldn’t wait to make mistakes just to get to white it out. I loved the containers it always came in, the little bottles and then the other kind that came out, no longer like liquidy liquid but a little sponge that smoothly glides across the paper.
I always loved how it smelled mixed with paper and ink as it wafted up to tickle the scilia in my nose. In school we were not usually permitted to use pens so I had no use for white-out so my mom and dad would buy me it for home. I cherished the opportunity to give out valentine’s day and Christmas cards with paper hearts and candy canes taped on and would usually make one up for every kid in class. It felt so beautiful making them all happy with a sweet little card and I always had some to bring home too with sweet little messages of friendship.
I loved the feel of being in school surrounded by other kids, cared for by teachers. Immersed in the glow of the whole environment. My hungry curiosity soaking up all the information my little brain could hold. I took in all the fragrances of the classroom, the smell of food, pencil lead and shavings, washable, markers, non toxic paint, clay…,the chatter, the laughter, and all the emotions swirling about, through the air. People, children & adults alike, always told my mom how “crazy” it is a girl can love school so much.
Each day after school, I couldn’t wait til my friends came out and we ran through the streets and the abandoned lots. We snuck up onto the railroad and secretly climbed the gates to trespass into people’s backyards with the possibility of getting caught hanging over our heads, both thrilling us and frightening us.
As I sit here and write this, I can smell the fragrance of the green grass that filled my nose and lungs in the Summers all those years ago, I can smell the sundrenched metal on my hands after climbing the fence surrounding the big lot we played in, I can feel the richness of the soil we buried treasures in and searched for wiggly worms in with our bare hands and little fingers, I can taste the magic of the glistening snowflakes as they landed on my tongue in the dead of Winter, I feel the crisp Fall air as it caressed my skin, I feel the rainy mist and the floral beauty of Spring as it bloomed into my essence after that long, cold slumber finally ended. I hear the childish screams and laughter, the innocent taunts “takes one to know one! Last one there is a chicken brain…! I’m rubber you’re glue whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you! Traitor! Dirtball! Kimbo Bimbo!!“
I can still hear the songs we listened to as our small bodies happily danced up and down the street, the songs that skipped and stopped and started back up as a result of my scratched up CD’s I never took good care of. I can feel the sunlight dancing upon the rain puddles after a heavy storm and the bruises and burns of the scrapes, like little sun beams, that adorned my knees as I did somersaults, went tumbling endlessly down the hills we used to play upon near the railroad, only to smack hard into the low concrete walls that surrounded the sandy, rocky spaciousness when I reached the end, and burst out laughing.
My Earth colored hair soaked in mud and sweat and grit as it tangled into an unrecognizable mass of chaos and beautiful destruction.
I can taste it today.
I sit here and my head overflows like cauldrons of emotion, nostalgia, longing, joy, happiness, pain, a deep ache way deep inside in some mysterious place of me I can’t quite identify, crackling and sizzling to the brim, on an old stove as brilliant purple and orange flames swallow it up. I see colors and stars and thousands of burning suns and glowing moons, everywhere.
It reminds me of a line in LeeAnn Womack’s song, “I Hope You Dance”. One I reference often.
“…get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger.”
I was satisfied with the beauty all around me but I always wanted more. I got my fill but I kept that hunger. Each day I couldn’t wait to go outside and play in the dirt, the snow, the grass, the rain and oily, muddy puddles my feet loved to dance in, the leaves, the worms and rolly pollies….I was astounded by the beauty in every form it came to me. My senses passionately, greedily devoured every bit of it. I was filled with wonder & awe. And I was very aware of this wonder and awe that always breathed in my lungs and flowed with my blood like a starry serenade.
I desired things I couldn’t always have. I wanted every toy, every book, every pair of shoes the instant I saw them and I would throw brief conniptions Sometimes on the rare occasions I was told no. I thought it was the worst thing to want and not get.
I also felt fear. I feared my own death even though I was too young to truly understand the full concept. I feared getting lost. I feared getting sick. I feared deeply. Fear did not take over my life but I experienced a healthy dose.
But then I gradually developed mild depression and I saw beauty still but not to the same depth. I couldn’t quite feel it as much. But it was still there. Then my lowgrade depression turned to severe, unbearable depression that consumed me in its darkness, pulling me into the secret black waters of its depths, I was submerged in despair, hit like a bag of bricks, with this thick, heavy darkness, and I saw beauty but almost never felt it as deeply. It jumped out at me and I noticed it to some degree, still noticing the simplest things it seemed no one else noticed or cared for, like the taste of cold air, the sounds of crickets, the smoothness of floor tiles, the cars and trucks sloshing through the rain in the flooded streets, the soles of shoes squeeking on bright white floors, the light reflections bouncing off of metal, the smell of hospitals and medicine and healing, the salty taste of longing, the way my soft hands feel in warm weather as they softly stroke utility poles and the wood of public benches, in fact, I seemed to notice it even more now…but it was shadowed by gray and darkness. I wanted to want it. But I just couldn’t to the extent I once hungered for it. And on some of those instances I paid too much attention and I did begin to really feel beauty again, I would shield myself against it, feeling as if I don’t deserve it, that this world is too beautiful for someone as ugly as me.
I noticed the city lights softly bathing the pavements and streets, the sounds of trains rolling across the tracks, the Beauty of the
soft rhythms of car horns in the distance late into the night while most of the world around me remained asleep, laughter out in the streets, the starlight illuminating the night, music notes riding the air as neighbors played love songs all night long, the wind that danced through my long hair. The scent of soil after the rain, the taste of cold air, the feel of soft fleece against my delicate, sensitive skin that brought me a sense of comfort, the sense of unity that surrounded me during the holidays, the creaking of floorboards beneath my feet, the green glow of fireflies, the gentle creases on people’s faces, the laughlines and the wisdom, the curve of shoulders, the little hairs in the big, dark, moles on the face of the girl I used to see on a bus often, the things I have always known are beautiful that others believe are ugly or not worth noticing. And it was all incredibly beautiful but too often I closed myself off to it.
I forced myself not to notice it. I wanted that beauty but I did not want to want it. I believed I wasn’t deserving and it hurt me. I have always been blessed with an ability to notice, acknowledge, and appreciate things, incredibly simple and mundane things, in a way it seems most around me almost never do or never notice and appreciate in the same way I always did. I have always loved simplicity and monotony. And not just the things themselves but the fact of experiencing them, the whole experience itself. And I have always lived in gratitude and some degree of mindfulness even before it became my intentional way of life. Even before I knew what gratitude or mindfulness even is.
I was never quite able to put it into words.
I was not brought up this way. It just lives in me. It always has. It always will.
Most children are more mindful and grateful than adults I believe, it’s a child’s nature, but mine seemed on fire and still is to this day. As we’re growing up, we often lose that sense of childish wonder to some extent, just getting caught up in the obligations and expectations and stresses of everyday life. Mine was hindered by depression but then brought back to life by depression way more intense than it was before depression.
Now even in the throes of a deep, deep depression, I don’t shield myself against that beauty. Instead, I cling to it for my life.
When I’m depressed, I can’t feel it to the same depth usually, as when I’m not depressed but I still easily notice it and can feel it to some degree. And I seize it and hold on tight.
Like a lifeboat out on some distant shore waiting for my grasp, promising to save me if only I reach out.
That wonder never left me completely.
Even in a psychiatric hospital under suicide watch for weeks, as a young woman, when I got my hands on a pen without anyone knowing (mental patients weren’t allowed to have pens) I was thrilled beyond belief. A doctor accidentally left it on a table and the second he walked away I snatched it up and it hid it and when we had to sign in for a group therapy session I was just the coolest thing around, signing my name with a pen in big bold, blue, letters, while every other patient had to use a pencil. ;-D
And the day I found a paperclip in the visiting room and hid it because it was just the most amazing thing to have a prohibited and somewhat sharp object in my possession while under suicide watch. I got both the pen and the clip taken off me when they saw me strolling the halls with them in my hands.
My mind drifts back now
to that moment my sense of taste returned while in the cafeteria, after what seemed like an eternity.
I am sitting around a small table with my friends who are not my friends but intimate strangers, all held together by some kind of lonely bond. No laces in our shoes, plastic forks and spoons, strings removed out of our hoods, plastic bracelet around my slender wrist bearing my name that then seemed
anomalous to me.
Struck by the sharp taste of the potatoes, struck in a delicious way, like meteor showers.
blasting through my whole being. Still so deeply and heavily depressed but
holding onto that moment as if my life depends on it. A moment surrounded by people who understand my pain and bizarre thoughts.
When they took me to the court of mental heath and I was the star of the show, I was fascinated. It felt so bizarre and so intriguing to be the center of attention, everyone talking about me but not to me. I wasn’t allowed to speak unless spoken to and no one spoke to me til the end when my lawyer and me lost the case and I was involuntarily hospitalized even longer. I sat in a zombified state, lifeless, sedated not by medication but deep emotional pain. But some moments my hunger returned. My hunger for knowledge, my fascination for how laws and courtrooms operate. Even in the midst of depression, there were always moments of joy, life, zest, beauty…Often, my depression was deep pain but on less common occasions, it was numb, lifelessness. This was even worse but especially made everything more beautiful when it would lift.
Even in my deepest, blackest despair in a mental hospital I stood with a young man, another sick patient, as we marveled at the vibrancy and color of the life in the courtyards outside the windows, just beyond our reach.
Tantalizing and beautiful. And heartbreaking. And breathtaking. We stood in breathless wonder, even while held in the agonizing bondage of our sickness, invisible fetters keeping us chained in darkness and psychosis.
He brought my attention to it, bringing a small spark of life back into me, a thin sliver of feeling to my zombefied state when he showed me the solitary flower that seemed to blossom just for the two of us, reminding me that life still exists beyond the pain as he showed me a bright red flower bathing in the golden, fiery, sunlight. Even the thin sliver of life, that
sparkle of electricity that surged through my body was enough in that moment. Just enough. This reminded me and continues to remind me to grasp and embrace whatever gems of beauty are before me, surrounding me, within me, in any form they exist. No matter how much it hurts or how lifeless or hopeless it feels. There is always something to hold. Something to move forward for. Even if it’s just a tattered thread blowing in the bitter
cold winds of despair.
I think of the nights we are kept awake by the sound of each other’s insomnia and the silent but screaming tears the night weeps onto our surface and into our core, and those moments we are able to laugh with one another as if we were never sick, as if we never knew the lifelessness and horror of depression and psychosis. Laughing uncontrollably without holding back, everything else is pushed aside for a moment, all the despair, the hallucinatory voices & figures that
nights, the suffocating loneliness, the paranoid delusions, the puddles of emotional sickness, we laugh relentlessly in raw joy and all is momentarily Ok.
I recall the day a group of us got together and decided to trick the psychiatric technicians and pretend we were talking to people who weren’t really there. She knew we were faking and laughed with us playfully warning us “just wait til the doctors get here and see if you get to go home any time soon, you’ll never get out of here!” We quit real fast!
And the day I was going to be discharged to go home which happened to be the day they were having an ice cream party but not until later, after a couple of us had to leave. I wanted ice cream and to sit around with the others and I seriously, very briefly considered telling them I was still suicidal. I wasn’t. But it was almost worth it to pretend. Just weeks before I would not even get out of bed for breakfast. My hunger got stronger each day.
I have always known a certain awareness that most others I know or encounter seem oblivious to.
There are moments I have felt lonely in my ability to see and appreciate the things it seems many or most overlook. It reminds me of a scene in Edith Wharton’s, Ethan Frome.
“He had always been more sensitive than the people about him to the appeal of natural beauty. His unfinished studies had given form to this sensibility and even in his unhappiest moments field and sky spoke to him with a deep and powerful persuasion. But hitherto the emotion had remained in him as a silent ache, veiling with sadness the beauty that evoked it. He did not even know whether any one else in the world felt as he did, or whether he was the sole victim of this mournful privilege. Then he learned that one other spirit had trembled with the same touch of wonder: that at his side, living under his roof and eating his bread, was a creature to whom he could say: ‘That’s Orion down yonder; the big fellow to the right is Aldebaran, and the bunch of little ones – like bees swarming – they’re the Pleiades…’ or whom he could hold entranced before a ledge of granite thrusting up through the fern while he unrolled the huge panorama of the ice age, and the long dim stretches of succeeding time. The fact that admiration for his learning mingled with Mattie’s wonder at what he taught was not the least part of his pleasure. And there were other sensations, less definable but more exquisite, which drew them together with a shock of silent joy: the cold red of sunset behind winter hills, the flight of cloud-flocks over slopes of golden stubble, or the intensely blue shadows of hemlocks on sunlit snow. When she said to him once: ‘It looks just as if it was painted!’ it seemed to Ethan that the art of definition could go no farther, and that words had at last been found to utter his secret soul….” (pp. 24)
I was shocked the moment I first read those beautiful lines. Pleasantly shocked. I feel myself in those words and in the small but profound spaces in the middle of each little lexeme.
It can be frustrating and also beautiful to feel as if those around me cannot or won’t share in my sense of wonder at the simple beauty all around us. The forgotten. The ignored. The abandoned.
The things I make it a point each day to reclaim.
(I STILL do this when I get happy, thrilled, overwhelmed in joy!) 😀
It’s one reason I love poetry and photography and novels. They have the potential to capture beauty, ugliness, pain, and ordinary things in an extraordinary way. Shedding light on dark, abandoned places and spaces. Places and spaces I have always longed to color with the beauty of my Truth.
And it’s beautiful.
They have a way of replicating wonder and awe and fossilizing them. Bringing them to life. Bringing them to the surface of consciousness. Threading them throughout eternity like a beautiful tapestry of gold and red, fire and ice.
I have always had a poetic way of seeing things. My head spins the world into poetry and song.
It doesn’t always make sense. Sometimes it’s incomprehensible even to me. But it’s always wonderful.
So even in my desperation, my depression, my despair, and lifelessness, I often noticed and wanted these beautiful things but I closed my heart to them, shut it off as if encased in thick cement.
Sometimes I wanted to want things and couldn’t.
Other occasions I wanted things I did not want to want.
Still, other occasions I wanted nothing and did not want to want anything but to vanish into nothingness or die a horrible violent death to match the horrible violent feelings inside me. This was rare.
This went on for years and years, and more years, off and on with genuine happiness thrown into the mix here & there. Until I finally decided to get myself better. I asked for help. I work on myself relentlessly to be the best me I can be(not a perfectionist).
Now I feel beauty everywhere, every day. And I feel fear more. Fear for myself.
Have you ever been crossing a street or standing at a curb on a pavement and a car seems to be coming too close to you and a bolt of fear runs though you? Or have you ever been in a car and another car almost hits the one you’re in or actually hits it and you feel a bit shaken for a while after and you feel it’s a bad thing? I don’t think most people have true near death experiences but I think many/most of us have experienced at least one of those mundane occurrences like with cars coming a bit too close, maybe an encounter with a creepy stranger, walking up a dark street alone and hearing footsteps or seeing/hearing something that makes the hairs on your neck stand up. Or a person driving a car you’re in a little too fast and you fear for others but also yourself.
All these experiences may shake you up a bit but that is an amazing thing!
It shows that you are healthy. You’re meant to be afraid when you think you’re in danger.
Have you ever walked through a store and saw expensive things you strongly desired but couldn’t have? Jewelry? Designer clothes? Beautiful furniture? Antiques? A lovely handbag? A gorgeous dress? Ever laid eyes on a beautiful house you couldn’t buy?
And then you felt low for not being able to buy them…for not having them…
Have you ever wanted to win a game so badly or a competition of some sort? Ever wanted to be accepted to a certain school and graduate? Or applied for a job you desperately wanted?
And it did not turn out how you wanted it to and you felt devastated…
This too is a great thing! It’s healthy to want, to need, to hunger….and to be disappointed when it doesn’t turn out.
Just like when a very physically ill person is too sick to eat or even want food then the person begins getting better and appetite and physical hunger returns and the person’s doctor or mom says how great it is. Because it’s healthy to want to eat.
Have you ever shielded yourself against beauty and things you want, feeling as if it’s wrong to want them or feeling as if you deserve none of it?
I encourage you to embrace the beauty around you and within you. Embrace your hunger, your fear, your desire. Whether or not you act on it.
It’s healthy to want.
Wanting is more important than getting.
Desiring, itself, is to be cherished, valued for all that it stands for. For all that it is.
It shows you are an active participant in life.
I had this epiphany, I guess you can say, in greater depth one day recently walking through Target. I saw so much jewelry, real and fake, I wanted but could not get. I felt disappointed. The way I wanted it was more than desire. It was hunger. The bracelets, the earrings, the necklaces, the bags that can make a girl go weak at the knees!…and then I remembered various occasions years ago walking through that very same store, seeing all that jewelry but not caring to have it even though I loved it, or wanting it but not with the same enthusiasm I would now, because of being depressed, or wanting it and becoming more depressed for not being able to have it. (There were definitely occasions back then when I was not depressed at all and wanted it all but depression was frequent back then.)
That’s when I realized more how great it is and feels to desire what I love. Even when I cannot have it. I don’t always desire material objects like that even when I’m not depressed; generally I’m so happy with just the things I already have. I can often walk through stores without wanting everything I lay eyes on. And that’s a good thing too. But it’s not good to have no interests because depression or guilt saps it all away. Some people have reached a certain level of spirituality where they want almost nothing and do not fear death even when it’s currently staring them in the face but not because of an illness, because they have trained their brains to not be concerned with material things or external factors. They are happy this way. They are not numb. They are alive. This is a good thing. Most of us, though, are not spiritual like this or to this extent. So when we have desire and fear, it’s good.
I think it’s hard for non depressed people and maybe even some depressed people to realize this. It’s ok to want and not get and then be temporarily devastated or angry or disappointed. It’s healthy to a certain point.
After years of pain, numbness, and lifelessness, off and on, I realize this. I was stuck and stagnant. I was half dead.
This was not always, I definitely experienced happy intervals along with depressed episodes and waves but it was too frequent.
When I used to think I was going to die, I was sometimes either happy or indifferent.
Seeing a speeding truck coming at me only provoked my concern for others, not myself.
When depression lifts completely or layers lift…
I realize how beautiful it feels to want to paint my nails, to want to put makeup on because it’s fun, to want to walk through a store and buy things even when I don’t have the money.
I wanted these things sometimes even when I was depressed but not to the same extent. They often felt like hassles or obligations. Or just tainted in gray. Dull gray. Or the color of vomit. A faded kind of green. A lifeless shade of green-gray.
Often, when depressed, I would see things I wanted to want or see things I knew I would want if I wasn’t lost in a vicious kind of darkness tearing me to pieces, choking me, swallowing me whole.
When not depressed, or even less depressed,
I want to paint my nails. I want to choose eye shadow of various pretty colors to complement the vibrancy of the blue of my eyes. I want to wear pretty clothes that look amazing on my beautiful physique.
I want things I can’t have and it hurts.
And it’s beautiful.
I still get depressed and am consumed by the dark pain or I get the other kind of depression, the kind that numbs me and I feel nothing, which sometimes feels worse than the unbearable pain. Before, it was not constant but it was frequent. My happiness was genuine when it would lift and my happiness would stay a while but that depression would always come back and sometimes quickly or it would come and go quickly off and on.
It is less frequent now. And I realize more and more the deep, primitive beauty of hunger & fear.
When I come out of a severe depression, when it starts to lift, I am hungry. Ravenous. Not hungry for food but hungry for life and everything in it. Hungry for the colors in the wind, the textures, the tastes, the sounds, the feelings and fragrances. Food tastes better than I can ever remember, an out of this world kind of deliciousness.. Music and songs are beautiful in an unfathomable way, my mind feels clear and hope is restored. This is how it has always been for me since I was 13 years old and a depressive episode would lift. It was never mania, just true happiness that really stands out after so much darkness and pain.
My judgment can be trusted.
I become ravenous, rapacious, like a starved, wild animal. My eyes, my mind devour anything they can.
It’s like I can’t get enough.
It reminds me of a blind person who was blind his/her whole life then all of a sudden can see and it’s overwhelming. Everything jumps out at once, the sensory input is too much to bear at once, dizziness, confusion, clashing, mind-blowing.
But it’s beautiful because the person can see.
I was blind but now I see.
It reminds me of the novel “The Secret Garden,” a beautiful story of growth, hope, and rebirth.
It reminds me of when I had emergency surgery on my kidney when I was a girl of twenty-one years. I couldn’t eat for days, I was in pain and had an IV drip for a couple days. When I got a little bit better, I was starved. I was hungry.
I craved food like never before.
And pizza fries and Coca Cola never tasted so good. I was so happy. At 21 years old, like at most other ages, I experienced deep depression off and on but also, deep, deep happiness.
I feel the entire universe inside me in all its perfections and flaws, all its beauty and pain. Its joy and misery, happiness, and despair. And I am born again.
When I look up at the sky or at a bumblebee or at thin blades of green grass or weeds, I see poetry and music and paintings. When I’m in a dark room and I look at a door, ajar with just a streak of light seeping in through the narrow crack, I see photography. When I look at strangers on a bus or walking up the street, when I see traffic speeding in the rain on a dreary gray day, I see novels flash across my mind. When I think of my pain, I feel a story. A story to be written and told again and again to reach out and touch someone else for the better.
I’m not manic. I know what mania is. I don’t have it. It’s an illness and the people struck with it can’t think clearly even when they think they can and have clouded judgment. I can remain and think in a calm manner even when I think and feel this way. I know I am not invincible. My judgment is sound and I am not delusional in this case I mention here. And I know there are reasonable limits and rules I must adhere to and I do. Mine is not dangerous like mania can be. But what I describe here may resemble that illness. It’s not to be confused with it. Mine is an awakening, an awareness triggered by an illness of the mind, one that has ravaged my brain for years. It’s not an illness itself. I don’t always feel this ecstacy when I’m happy. Sometimes it’s more of a calm serenity, a quiet joy. But it’s just as fierce.
If you want something you don’t have, it’s ok. It’s best not to let it take over your life and make you miss out on all the goodness you do have and it’s usually best I believe, not to feel our worth is dependent upon external factors but it’s ok to desire, to hunger. And it’s ok to be angry, disappointed, devastated for a while, that we can’t have it yet or ever. Even if it’s something trivial like jewelry or a fun vacation. Bask in the beauty of that hunger to be better, to have more, to get away…bask in that desire and the disappointment.
Sit with it.
Then remember all the greatness you possess and are and let that disappointment And desire dissolve.
And be happy now.
Did you ever think of disappointment as a good thing?
I’m here to open you up to another perspective.
You don’t have to be someone with longterm depression like me to get an idea of what I write of. That’s one reason why we write, to help others understand and discover wisdom without ever experiencing what we have. And to let those with similar experiences know they are never alone.
The worst thing is not to want and not get. The worst thing is to be dead. And half dead. To not want at all because you are too lifeless to care. Or too lifeless to have the energy to even begin to desire or fear. And it’s ok to be half dead. If you are half dead then you are half alive. And you can awaken that other half.
When you have a brush with death and your body turns to jelly, bask in the beauty of that fear. Embrace it. Keep tasting it. You’re alive. And you want to be alive.
Revel in the wonder of that trembling.
Trembling in awe. Trembling in fear.
Don’t shield yourself against the beauty you know. Try not to mask your desire and fear with feelings of guilt because we’re taught it’s wrong to want, to need, to fear, to get.
Let’s be happy, thrilled, overjoyed with the simplest of all the beauty around us. And nOt too
disappointed too long when we don’t get what we want. And let us keep reaching for the stars. I have always been naturally inclined to notice and love the simple beauty but I learned to strengthen my nature, make it more conscious, intentional.
Keep wanting more, keep desiring, keep trying, keep fearing.
Get your fill to eat. But always, always, keep that hunger.
Read “The Secret Garden” for free here:
Read “Ethan Frome” for free here: