In June, something went wrong with my body. Life disappointments, work stress, birth control induced hormone imbalance, sleep deprivation – who knows what other factors – and I got slammed with the black brick bag of depression. The sort where you wake up with a body in crisis – a vacuum in your chest sucking you into the bed – limbs sore from nothing but sadness. The sort where being with people makes it worse because every effort you make to listen, smile, or even explain yourself costs enormous energy.
I’ve been through episodes of this before, and every time I become stronger and more skilled at dealing with it. I watch my thoughts and write them down – dark, terrifying, hopeless thoughts. What I did this time, which is different from the other times I’ve struggled with the monster, is I told myself that no matter what thoughts came up, no matter how impossible life felt, I had to continue because I knew that it would pass. Some small voice in me, born after the past times I’ve struggled, remained calm and insistent in this knowledge.
It did pass. I got myself to a Chinese hospital, got the birth control out, gave up alcohol for a month, and made my well-being a priority. Sleep, nutrition, whatever exercise I could manage. I’m not a doctor, I don’t think I suffer from clinical depression, and I’m not saying the above will be the solution for everyone – but at least, for now, the sun has cracked back into my days.
The older I get, the more I realize what it means to believe in myself, and how important this is.
It means that I must do what I feel is best for me, in my gut, no matter who else disapproves, no matter who else I might disappoint.
It means that other people don’t define the truth about me – I do – and their opinions of me, or rather, my anxieties about their opinions about me, are not worth any time in my thoughts.
Finally, it means that I know that I am capable of taking care of myself. I am capable of supporting myself through struggles. I am capable of creating my own joys and providing my own comfort. I am capable of working toward my dreams and creating the best, happiest life there is for me to live.
Even if I have days where I doubt my own capability, I can still pretend. I can still make choices I know are good for me – and also have forgiveness and compassion for when I make the choices that aren’t. I can still say, however hollow or unbelievable it may sound in my head at the time, “I got this.”
Dépaysment is a French word for the disorienting sense one feels when they are in all unfamiliar surroundings – literally taken out of one’s home country. Being in a new place, – being away from the people who know you and the familiar routines that define you – demands that you reach inward to find yourself. It isn’t always easy, but it is always rewarding. I have found that every time I’ve had to create my own wholeness in a new environment, my sense of self expands, and life, wherever I am, gains a new level of depth.
Thankful for China
I’m so thankful for the cool quiet of summer nights here
For the ancient zen peace that pervades even as
Apartment buildings number
Skyscrapers cause bruises on the ozone
Honks and beeps, a
Silent Brush painting, a
Park devoid of people in this “mid-size” city of 8 million
(so rustle the wind’s leaves)
Midnight, Highways, Other Languages, No Helmet –
The sort of sights you’ll Choke on again in Head-Spinning Dreams –
High, Afraid, Infinitely alone and