I remember my experience of what was labelled ‘depression’ as dynamic as any other. Long stretches pushing up inside the bubble. Launched backwards in a fixed position on the skin of the sphere. Eyes clenched, head down, arms inconsequential. A human shrimp swimming up back against the sinking sac of extended self, an invasive fluid heightening sensitivity to sound, texture, comment, and everything unspoken.
Depression was silence. A way to be in the world without tuning to the instructions and constant banter. At times a reprieve from life’s expectation that you might be a certain thing in a certain place, that immovable object you never could attain against that unstoppable force of who you are. A surrender to be outside the game and metamorphose between the edges of you and the world inane.
I also remember the times I felt I needed to pierce my flesh and bleed. There was no desire for death or a pity audience. In fact, at times it became a test to see if anyone could actually see what was hidden under my clothes, all that anger and confusion about not knowing who I was allowed to be.
I say my experience labelled ‘depression’ because it was not separate from any of my other experiences and there was nothing consisted that tied it to itself. I did not know I had permission to feel my feelings, to think my thoughts, to sing my style, to know my world from the truths that came from inside. I could not be sure of the voices intuitive or the empathic information I received unlike anyone else in my life. And I questioned the integrity of ‘knowing’ when it created a reality interpreted as unconventional, not because I wanted to fit it or be seen to be successful but because I only care about how people feel loved. I tune only to their need to know themselves as a gift.
This is my job. I have played it my whole life. When I was experiencing uncertainty about how I was allowed to do my job there were opportunities to know myself as unacceptable. There were encounters with people that encouraged me to know myself as a diagnosis, a personality type, a psychometric test, a cognitive-behavioural contract, a voice on the phone, a secret, a lover’s commitment, and much more. These were not the things that helped me understand what I need to feel loved, these were the moments of perfection that allowed all things to exist in their ideal configuration.
Depression is not a curse it is a lived expression. It may not be pleasant or easy to understand but it is inseparable from the rest of your experiences. There is something integral about knowing that it is not a flaw that allows you to discover yourself (rather than seek a cure to a diagnosis). There is something empowering about acknowledging that in some way this experience is serving you not as a lesson or example of what not to do, but as a valuable part of your life’s work. This expression of you has something valuable to say. This expression of yourself wants to be loved and experienced as valid, to be given a place in your home with all of your other aspects and understood as having an important job. This aspect is not your enemy.
All aspects are valuable. When they come together knowing each has a place and a part to play, they become your greatest gift – you! When this too can be given it’s time and place, it’s love and acceptance, then you are not rushing to the next thing, to a better version of yourself where everything is easier because you can appease the demands of the world in a way that does not ask you to be visible. Whatever configuration of crazy you are under all of that separation is where you will feel loved.
Bringing all of your aspects home seems unthinkable at first. It may take time to identify all of your aspects let alone know how to integrate them, that’s all part of this moment and that’s perfect. This is not a race. You are not rushing toward some better version of yourself, you are experiencing this moment as an invitation to have the conversation with the cosmos, with yourself.
And when the waves are too loud to think with any perspective, or the fire is beyond a controlled burn, then there is only this moment and what you know to be true. All the platitudes and contracts fade to nought when this moment shuts out your ability to do for others. And in those moments, if you know for sure that life is happening for you, that there is a reason for this that doesn’t make you wrong, and that you have permission to feel without trying to make it look like you’re something you’re not, maybe then those moments of overwhelm can be honoured for what they are. For the intensity of life, for the unapologetic self, for the primal scream that asks for nothing else other than to feel loved.
To honour those moments is not to feed the monster or rationalise its outcomes. You honour this expression as you might be with someone in detox or child birth, knowing them as a whole and perfect being having a human experience that cultural bias might prefer to keep secret. An experience society has chosen to medicalise finding the individual wanting rather than recognising a natural desire to feel loved. For no matter what the scenario, that is what drives you…
The desire to feel loved.