Depression: Free Your Mind and the Rest Will Follow

It's great to plan, but planning has not been my strong suit. I've never understood five-year plans or long-term strategies. A born "one day at a time" person, I seem to have taken that strategy to a whole new level.
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"Free your mind, the rest will follow. Before you can read me you gotta learn to see me." Lyrics from a song that carry great truth. Things are not always what they seem on the surface. I have learned that expectations carry a kind of "knowingness." Tomorrow will come as sure as yesterday has passed. I expect the weather forecaster when the 10-day looks like days of fun in the sun, and I'm surprised when days four through eight are cloudy. This summer I had expectations that I wasn't even consciously in touch with until I sat back this weekend and asked myself why life seemed so upside down and inside out. This idea of expectation kept surfacing. However, expectation was not surface: It was the surface. It was indeed the tip of the iceberg.

It's great to plan, but planning has not been my strong suit. I've never understood five-year plans or long-term strategies. A born "one day at a time" person, I seem to have taken that strategy to a whole new level. Introduced to the concept of intent, it made more sense for me to set my intent each day. It made sense that by letting my intentions be known to the universe, and then setting that intent into action by taking the steps each day to bring them to fruition, I would transcend intent and arrive at my destination. If destination were part of real life, then I'd have to say the only real destination is death. Other than my arrival at that place, the rest of life is a series of decisions and experiences that can be deeply affected by my intent, by my actions, and by my determination. However, intentions, decisions, and even right living often do not bring me to the place I expected to be.

I expected this summer to spend time writing every single day. I expected to be getting to the beach more, to visit those I haven't seen enough, to spend meaningful time with those that I see but often don't take time to pause and enjoy a few hours of meaningful connection. Instead, I have found myself frozen when I sit down to write. I have found myself bound by this inner dialogue that is driven by demand. "Why am I not doing something more meaningful? Why am I sitting inside on such a gorgeous sunny day and not sitting on a sunny beach? Why am I looking at Facebook and marveling at the travels of others while my car sits at the curb? Why am I not earning money for the hard work I do? Why am I not doing more for myself? Why do I spend hours taking care of anyone and everyone but me?" Sounds negative and indeed, it's embarrassing to admit. But here lies the soul and the core of me: I don't expect greatness enough. Not nearly enough. And I forget that by sheer genetics and through my own DNA and chemical makeup, there exists a propensity for depression. Not sadness -- depression.

So I put the word "intent" into my daily life. I push myself to get to the work at hand, to participate in my own life. I go through the actions of making myself do the very things I am dreading. And I realized this past week that I'm not bad, I'm not lazy, I'm not misdirected, I'm not less than any other person that is in my life. I have been experiencing depression again. Like the familiar smell of your own home, I am not aware of that until someone walks in and says, "I love the smell of your house." I am always unaware that depression has set in until I corner it and shine a light on it and identify it. Depression is a pervasive, elusive and determined illness. It weaves itself into the fabric of my daily life until decisions that should be simple become more complex and difficult. I falter, while my thinking tells me it's my fault. It's the closest I'll ever come to actually understanding what it must be like to hear voices, because my inner dialogue subtly changes and turns into a full-on siege when my guard has been weakened by that dialogue.

I have learned through the years that I can stop this first and foremost by acknowledging it. So I did -- I acknowledged that I was depressed. Yet I feel angry at myself: How did you let this happen again? How purposeless is that? I ask you reading this, and I ask myself: Why do we not see this for what it is when it begins? Why do I allow myself to fall into this trap? The answer is as simple as it is complex. It happens. And even when I am making changes in my life, working on my spiritual self, eating well, and doing for others, this insidious unwanted stranger knocks and I open the door. I open the door by not challenging each thought. I open the door when I find myself doing anything and everything I can for anyone but myself. I open the door when I refuse help and when I excuse others from their responsibilities and abdicate my responsibility to myself.

The truth will set you free, and many have said that, experienced it, and can affirm that. Truth is essential with depression because it is the disease of lies of misconceptions. I call it "making sh*t up." I read into things that would normally fly right past me. I imagine slights and I over-magnify the negative. This summer, in particular, has the added weight of the world, literally. I am so aware of the need for peace and negotiation, and of global pain. Until I am free of any limitations in my thinking, I am unable to participate in a meaningful way of being part of the solution. That in and of itself is motivation.

Now, I'd love to hear from anyone that has experienced this and can identify. I'd love to hear from you if you are currently caught in this riptide and would like to know how to swim diagonal to the shore and get out of it. The root of this problem lies in thinking. I am the one that owns the key to my freedom. I truly do know this. I can't put into words how many times I've been on this road during my journey. It never looks like this road when I'm turning into it. I'm usually miles into the trip when I realize it's a dead end, this depression thing. It is an illness that wants me to give up. It is an illness that is treatable, and I know what to do. So I'm doing it, and then I'm going to remind myself that I still have a month of summer. I expect it to be much better and that is an expectation that can be brought to fruition. I started by writing today. I'm sharing this so that others that have been in the grip of this state of mind can remember that they, too, hold the key. The key(s) for me are right on this computer. There, I'm free.

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