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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Truth. A light in the darkness.

I feel like starting this post with "reporting to you from the depths..."  Although it wouldn't be completely accurate.  It would be more accurate to say "reporting to you from the surface..." where I have been waiting... not-so-patiently treading water.  

And, I am getting tired.  

If you haven't figured it out, I am referring to my depression.  Actually, if you are wondering where I have been for the past month, I have been kind of waiting to be on the 'other side' so that I could have started this post with "reporting to you from the other side..."

I am not on the other side.

I am reticent to report to you from this place, and yet, I know that it is what needs doing.  As a yoga teacher, a friend, a daughter, a wife, and even more so; a coach, I have always felt like I needed to deny these dips.  To lay low until they passed.  I have felt like I wasn't "allowed" to feel this way.  

This post is an attempt to undo part (if not all) of that story.  

The truth is, they still happen.  Some last longer than others, and looking back, this one has been around since the beginning of December.  

Sure, I know my triggers.  The darkness of the winter months (I suppose that is called seasonal affective disorder), the bitter cold of the climate in which I live, lack of sleep (last night I had about 4 hours because my son is literally on ROUND 4 of this cold/flu season).  

I have come to know the signs/symptoms of these 'dips'... low energy, extreme irritability (esp. on mornings like this), fits of crying - largely spent on the floor of my closet.  

All of this is/has been true on this go around, and yet one thing is for certain, something has changed.  

Looking back on my life, I can see that I have been suffering with depression for most, if not all, of my adult life.  I would estimate that it actually started in junior high school, although I am not sure exactly.  I have been doing a bit of 'light reading' on the topic lately (even though I have a degree in psychology, I had largely forgotten all that I had learned more than a decade ago).  My actual diagnosis is that of 'Post-partum depression' although I know now that it is more likely to be 'Clinical depression' -- meaning a depression that is due to a biochemical imbalance in the brain and one that continually cycles, year after year.  There is no real 'cure' other than medication and I have been there, done that... hopefully never to return.

And so here I am, riding out yet another 'storm'.  

The funny part is, I now know that these periods, these lows, these dips, aren't even real.  They feel real in a very physical and emotional sense, but they aren't.  Somehow I have managed to separate the truth of my essence (the real me) from this experience.  

What does this mean? (This is the part where I can hear my perceived skepticism bouncing back at me)...

Well, let me describe it to you this way... I used to become these dips, this darkness.  I used to allow it to permeate every single thought, every moment, every cell of my being.  I think that on some level that I was addicted to it.  Addicted to its familiarity, taking some kind of deranged comfort as it enveloped me in its grasp, virtually smothering me.  

I can honestly say it isn't like that any more.  My experience has completely changed.  I am no longer debilitated nearly to the same degree by these dips as I used to be.  In the past two months, I have managed to go to work, feed my family, visit with friends, even LAUGH.  You know, live.  

Now, maybe you are thinking, this girl is delusional... she doesn't look/seem/act depressed AT ALL!  And if you think that, that makes me glad.  Not that I am trying to fool you, or myself.  I am simply trying to allow these dips to flow right through me.  I am trying to be present to them as they pass through my life.  I am trying to view them as 'flowers' being thrown at me rather than 'arrows' being fired (see this Buddhist reference here).  I am trying to receive the gifts that are inherent with any trying times.  

And, its working.

You see, I have a few things going for me now that I didn't have before:

1. I know when I am 'in it' and I no longer deny that I am (to myself anyway, and now apparently to you).
2. When I am in it, I access my resources... and I have many.  
  • My husband: God BLESS this man
  • My mom and dad: unbelievable in their unconditional love and support of me
  • My friends: I am truly Grateful and Grace-filled in their loving presence
  • My coach: remarkable, talented and steadfast
  • And the odd indulgence... one of which is below.
One of my 'coping strategies' is to envision myself running away.  I think that it is truly representative of my searching outside of myself for what I know lies within (LIGHT), but on the truly dark days, I completely indulge this fantasy.  Yesterday was one of them and here is a light-hearted depiction of one of these fantasies:

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.  Dealing with what is...

"It is so basic in us to feel that things should go well for us, and that if we start to feel depressed, lonely or inadequate, there's been some kind of mistake or we've lost it.  In reality, when you feel depressed, lonely, betrayed, or any unwanted feelings, this is an important moment on the spiritual path.  This is when real transformation can take place."
~Pema Chodron

If you're still reading, thanks for listening.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.



  1. Hee hee -funny video. I hear you sister. You have great perspective on this. Not to encourage your 'running away' strategy, but it does help to have some dangling carrots!
    It helps me to have a few races and trips booked throughout the year. My parents just told us they are taking us to Mexico at the end of March with our new family of 4. How can you deny... that HELPS! :)

    1. My beautiful Tess! I can hardly wait for news of your newest one!!! Glad to hear that you have an adventure soon on the horizon! Lots of love to you Three + 1!!! xoxo

  2. I can so totally relate to this. It's been a hard few months for me too.

    My oldest cat is sick... "circling the drain" in fact. He's actually doing OK given that he has a huge tumor in his bladder - but I know he doesn't have that long - and he requires lots of extra care right now.

    And it seems that the more I focus my attention on him, the more demanding everything else in my life becomes - and then I just start to resent EVERYTHING! I too would just love to run away right now - my brain starts thinking things like "why do I even have pets?" and "why do we have to have so many people on this planet - couldn't they all just go away and leave me alone?" and "eating is too much trouble - I'm just too tired to deal with it."

    On some level I know what's really going on - I just don't want to face not being able to control things - and I don't want to feel the things I'm feeling right now. Alas, we don't get those kind of choices.

    The weather has lightened up though, and CatMan and I rode 100 miles last week - then it snowed - but I took advantage of the time and took my bike in for a tuneup and finally decided to "make the leap" and had clipless pedals installed. And we're in for another warm week here, so hopefully we'll get to ride some more - and hopefully I won't kill myself with the new pedals! Exercise really, REALLY helps me.

    Hang in there, and please know that I'm pullin' for you!


    1. ECL! I am so sorry to hear of your cat's illness... but I know for certain that he is one lucky fella to be living out his last days in your care... What a special Service/gift that you bring to the world! AND, as a fellow biker (whose season is WAY shorter than yours!)... I am putting away my jealousy and instead cultivating Gratitude. I am so glad that you have an outlet that makes a difference. PS -- once you go clipless you will NEVER go back! xo

    2. Yes... well, we'll see how jealous you are when I fall off the bike and break an arm or leg - twist heel outward... twist heel outward, I just have to keep repeating it to myself...

    3. ECL! Change your thoughts!!!! Change your words!!!!!
      New Mantra: I am a clipless pedal Goddess... Actually, I think they were probably made for me and my mad skills. Watch me as I effortlessly twist my heel outwards each and every time I need to stop my bike...

      PS: Here is a practical tip from extensive experience... MAKE SURE THEY AREN'T SCREWED ON TOO TIGHT!!!! Erm... why do I know that? Well, you'll just have to trust me :)

    4. "I am a clipless goddess... I am a clipless goddess"

      At the moment actually I'm a sick puppy - I fear caught a cold somewhere along the line. Perhaps this is some unconscious way of avoiding my clipless fears?

      Just out of curiosity, what kind of pedals do you have? I originally wanted to go with Speedplay light actions, because I read they were the easiest, especially for beginners. But we got them all set up ("we" being the nice fellow at the bike store) and I couldn't for the life of me get them to engage. We tried for about 20 minutes... he loosened them as far as he could, and I was literally standing with all my weight on one foot bouncing up and down and STILL couldn't clip in!

      Finally, we gave up and tried the Shimano SPD's and clipping in was easy as pie. So that sorta made the decision for me. The guy said he set them as loose as possible so hopefully that should make it easier to unclip - ahhh but why worry, I AM a clipless goddess after all!

      I'm really glad I paid the extra bit of money to have them installed and professionally fit because at least I got to practice a little bit with my bike safely attached to the trainer.

      Have you ever had a professional bike fit? It's sort of a wild experience. They measure every conceivable piece of your body, and then make you watch yourself in a little camera from various angles so you can see... well... you can see where certain things like posture have room for improvement!

      Anyhow, they ended up having to put a shim in one of my shoes and adjust the cleat a bit to get both knees pointing forward, so hopefully that will prevent any problems down the road!