In recent days I have lost myself. My “self.” The lights have dimmed, my path has been obscured, and I frequently find myself in tears, appropo of nothing. Sitting and listening to my clients this week has been tough. Their pain, their loss, their hopelessness have seeped through the imaginary impermeable psychic barrier I erect to protect myself. To do my work. But lately it hasn’t been working. I told a colleague this morning that I seemed to be slipping into that old, familiar darkness again.
Possible reasons: * Professional burnout–I have some very ill clients, and working with them is sometimes exhausting. * Too many people are dying. A friend’s best friend committed suicide last week, and I feel deep sorrow for everyone involved. * Ongoing unresolved health issues. * Spiritual turmoil. * Loneliness. *Unresolved grief.
Is that all?
The one thing about depression–for me–is its familiarity. I’ve gotten to be an old hand at this. When it saunters up the sidewalk, sometimes I just leave the front door unlocked so it can let itself in. It knows the drill, knows where the snacks are, and clears itself a spot in the overstuffed chair and settles in. I know it, and it knows me. It’s like a virus. It has a shelf life. So I lie back on the couch, blanketed, a sleeping cat draped across my feet, web surf aimlessly, play seemingly endless back-to-back games of sudoku online, listen for the next thunderstorm to roll in, and wait. Sometimes I even try to write:
Sometimes the brokenness is all there is. Another storm is breaking on this house tonight, but I can’t hear it. My breath is muffled into a whorl of silence, like the end of time stuffed into a bell jar. My head pounds, my eyes blear with universal tears about everything: the stumbling darkness, tsunamis, the dying rosebush hunched under the kitchen window.
So this presence, this shadow in my life. It drags me to the deep end once in a while, pulls me under, plays that “How long can you hold your breath this time?” game.
Yet somehow I have been graced with the gift of buoyancy. Seemingly out of nowhere, a spiritual oxygen tank drifts down into my hands, followed by a rope or a hand in the water. And I live again.
For today, at least, I wait.
Sleepy now. Scrawling off . . .