I've never suffered from depression, though I know many people who have. I've never known what it's like to not be able to get excited about anything, to have a hard time getting off the couch, to not care what you do that day because everything feels the same, and it all feels numb. I've never known what it's like to have an overwhelming sense of gray and sadness alternating with intense periods of feeling angry at everyone.
I teach people that they can change anything in their life, all they have to do is make a new choice. It sounds so frustratingly simple. And yet many of the people I know seem to have that one area of their life that they spiral back to over and over again; their own personal kryptonite that keeps them living in the past in trauma and drama. I sit in class after class watching these people stay stuck, wondering why they are either unable or unwilling to just choose something different - choose out of limitation and forge ahead into possibility. I have a confession to make. I, too, am one of those people.
There is a situation in my life that I have been "trying" to shift for years with mediocre success. Every week I make a new vow that this week, something will be different. I will be different. I will react differently (which would be not to react at all). I will not resist or raise my barriers in defense. I will change and I will be happy. We will all be happy - or I will die trying - God dammit! And every week ends the same. One step forward, two steps back. Still stuck in the mud of the past. Choosing blame and resentment over freedom and possibility. "What would it take to change this?" I would ask halfheartedly, knowing that it can't change until I make the choice to let go of it and create from the present instead of the past.
Saturday I finally had enough. I finally made the demand that something will shift because I'm choosing not to live like this anymore. I wish I could say I had made it through my whole life without knowing what it feels like to be depressed, but maybe I had to hit rock bottom before I was willing to make a change.
How am I making this change now when I haven't been able to before? Here are some of the tools I have decided to use to help me.
1. I've found a support system that has my back. Not just a yes man that will agree with me that my life sucks, or tell me about their Great Aunt Sue that had the same thing happen, or have their own secret agenda, but someone that will actually help me look at things objectively and change them.
2. Be willing to ask for help. Your support system can't help you if you don't ask for it. What would it take to be vulnerable and ask?
3. If you don't have a support system (and even if you do), stay in the question. Staying in the question opens up possibilities, searching for answers only leads to conclusions and limitations. Some of the questions I've been asking lately - What if this is the change I've been asking for showing up in a different way? What can I be or do different today that would change things with ease right away? What's right about this I'm not getting? What's right about me I'm not getting? What if I'm actually falling together instead of falling apart? What have I made so vital about holding this situation in place that I am unwilling to change it, choose it, or loose it? What am I unaware of, that if I allowed myself to be aware of, would change everything with ease? What else is possible here I've never even considered?
4. Having my Bars® run every week (more often if I can). I can lay down on the table with teeth clenched, fists balled up and full of resentment, and as soon as the practitioner puts her hands on my head I can feel everything begin to dissipate and I can find calm again.
5. Try something new or different or scary every day. Yesterday I went off the diving board at the pool, which I haven't done for ages. It's amazing how scared I was, and how exhilarated I felt afterward. Ditto for going down the water slide. These two things made me feel like a kid again, and brought a smile to my face that hadn't been there for way too long. Today my scary thing is writing this blog post. Tomorrow - who knows?
I'm not expecting this situation to shift over night, and I'm also aware that something has already shifted. I've made a demand of myself, and the universe, that things are going to change, right now, and I can feel that they are. My emotions are still all over the place, and I have to remind myself when I'm in the downward spiral that this too will change. All I have to do is choose it.