At its worst, it feels like the bittersweet melancholia of a million Sunday nights strung together like a necklace wrapped too tight around your neck. It feels like heavy stones of guilt, shame, and failure relentlessly knocking me down at every turn. It’s a yearning that never goes away, and an ache you can never quite soothe. It’s not feeling at all and feeling too much. It’s messy and cluttered and dishes that have piled high because the desire for order has been lost to the cynics and chaos of a troubled mind. All this entwined with a desperate and earnest pining for optimism and contentment that remains rudely inaccessible and sternly out of reach.
I operate from a headspace of depressive highs that plummet into lingering and manic lows. I call it a depressive high because I know just how fleeting it will be and how weighted I will still feel; just because the sun is shining doesn’t mean the snow will melt. A manic low because as high as some can go, I experience an equally enthusiastic and intense low soaring down, down, down. Stuck, shamed, and sullied only begin to describe what I feel, no rhyme or reason, no when or why to justify the up and down, back and forth. My hope, my perseverance, my strong will is tired of being tried and then again.
If you would have asked me a couple of years ago if there was anything above or beyond what I have experienced in my battle with mental health, the story would have ended before the last paragraph commenced—complacent, defeated, just existing. My depression led me to believe I would always remain in that limbo, that this was as good as things were going to get, and that acceptance would set me free. Shifting between two worlds, as they are, not open to interpretation. I have a mind that is naturally programmed to think in black and white. With no shortage of hard work and determination, I finally began to discover the color. It was almost an unbearably light thought that could merely be in and out like the tides before, and yet a plot twist presented itself. The warmth of that light started to melt the weight of the snow from a long, hard winter.
Beneath all the heaviness and sadness endured I discovered the most unlikely of gifts, a newfound purpose ready to infiltrate and renew former battlegrounds in that all-encompassing kind of way. A purpose born pain with the power to shift a fragmented and fragile perspective. A perspective I was not able to simply will into existence, but I chose to fight for. One I now firmly believe would not exist if it wasn’t for a long-lived residency in an indignant state. Through the duress, I built a new foundation rich in substance and self-love. In all the absence of joy, I learned to find a sustained and humble happiness in the simplest of pleasures. Most affirming of all, beyond the face of adversity I have embodied the compassion and understanding I so wish to inspire within this community, and within this world. The ability to help someone else that is anguished and walking where I have walked before is the most fulfilling contentment I have yet to feel, unanchored and without the fear of falling from the high. For the first time in my life, I feel a renewed hope and a sustaining joy poised from deep within as passion and purpose light the way. Unweighted and unassuming, here I stand.