So my depression talks. Just like you and me. I have a running dialog with it all the time. That is why I am seeking out meditation, because I believe that I can quiet that voice down, maybe even shut it the hell up.
One of the greatest stories depression tells me starts when I go on antidepressants. As soon as I start feeling better, depression says,
“hey, you know these meds you are taking? You think they make you feel good, but really you are missing out on life. You might not be depressed, but you are not happy either. The medication takes all emotion out of life and what is life worth living if you don’t feel anything?”
I then stop taking the medication and I spiral down into a hole.
Depression tells me another story too, it’s a bit simpler, but basically he says,
“HEY!!!!! Did you notice how great you feel???? You don’t need those crappy antidepressants anymore…YOU ARE OVER THE HUMP!”
and then…I stop taking them.
It’s a cycle I’ve been unable to break since I’ve started treatment when I was 19. My last cycle was years ago and when I stopped the last time, I said I was never going to go back on medication again because I’d rather suffer than play the on / off game. These past four years have been the hardest of my life and I haven’t went back to the medicine.
That was until the medical drama that started this year and I needed help. I promised myself when I asked for the pills that I would stop playing that game. That no matter how much shit depression talks, I know I am sick and I need these medications. For life.
So meditation has been going fabulously. Things are clicking and I’m feeling like this has been a missing piece of my life. I sit down to meditate around 9:00 every evening and some days I may even sit back and enjoy a guided session beyond that. It has been nothing short of wonderful.
On Saturday I sat down for my session and my mind starts to wander. I push through the session and I’m happy, but I felt somewhat of an emptiness. I didn’t recognize it until Sunday, but depression was at work trying to fuck up this good thing that was taking over my life.
Sunday I sit down for my session and I have the shittiest session again and this time I hear depressions voice,
“Hey, you know these problems you are having these last few sessions? Yeah, it’s the meds. They are stopping you from really exploring the benefits of meditation. This is the extent of what you are ever going to feel from meditation unless you stop taking the meds or quit meditating. You decide, but something has got to give.”
And this is where I stayed all day. His voice just running through my head all day.
Tonight is my meditation class and depression tried talking me out of going, but I plugged through and made it to class. During one of our exercises, our instructor started the session by reading a disclaimer about how meditation should never replace therapy, and what we are doing should never be considered therapy. He explained to us that he was going to ask us to go the “that place”. You know the uncomfortable place at the pit of your gut that is raw and ugly and sparks all your sadness.
Oh, I know that place well and I go to it instantly.
I close my eyes and I see my 19 year old self, in the living room of my apartment up at school. I’m on the phone with my mom, the health insurance card in my hand, I’m telling her how sick I am with my depression and that I needed to come home.
I felt nothing. I couldn’t bring myself to feel the pain we were reaching for.
“You can’t bring it up because of the medication.” says depression.
Damn, I think to myself. Depression might be right. This is my trigger. This is my place. This is the defining moment of my life. My mom failed to tell my dad I was sick, and when he found out I had failed out of school, kicked me to the street.
I realize this story wasn’t working so I went to my second heaviest place of pain.
I was just beat by someone I love. I locked myself in the bathroom and I was black and blue, crying, leaning over the sink. I looked in the mirror and all I saw was my mom in the reflection. The sight makes me cry harder. I’ve repeated the cycle.
Nothing. I feel nothing!
The instructor rings the bell, everyone opens their eyes and a box of tissues is placed in the center of the room for anyone that feels the need to clean up a bit from the experience.
I cross my arms and mope the rest of the class. Depression dances in my head, not just with a ribbon, but he’s got a trophy too…he fucking won and he feels like a million bucks.
The class starts wrapping up and the instructor tells us a story.
He’s at the park with his granddaughter, she is 3-4 years old. They start racing to an imaginary finish line and when they arrive she stumbles a bit a falls over, but not hard enough to cause any type of pain or injury. He goes to pick her up and she starts sobbing uncontrollably. He knows that her crying is about something greater than her fall and they eventually calm her down enough to ask her questions and she tells them that she was crying because she was a big girl and big girls don’t fall like that. He explains to the class, we could have done a lot of things in this moment, we could have assured her that she was a big girl. We could have told her to brush it off and go play, but we didn’t…we just held her.
The tears start streaming down my face and I sit in silence, hoping the rest of the class doesn’t see me crying. My heart is so heavy it feels like a weight is sitting on my heart.
Our instructor tells us to close our eyes and as I sit and meditate, the tears stream down my cheeks and start collecting on my chest in a pool. When the session is over, I wipe my face, blow my nose. I tell depression that it can fuck off and it can shove that trophy up his ass.