March 27, 2007

Sometimes my best writing is done in response to group work. I have removed the details to protect the privacy of the women involved – but I share this glimpse into my recent experience with depression.


One of the questions I ask myself when I am starting down the slippery slope into depression – is:
Is this a reactive depression? If so – can I let myself let it run its course? Or do I need help? How can I best support myself and keep myself “well-enough” to allow myself to feel my way through to the other side? You just moved, left your support network, bought a new house, started a new job! If you were not feeling some anxiety and depression about the losses and uncertainty – I would worry about you!

My most recent depression episode was in the fall – as the nights got longer – and as I stopped travelling as much to the mountains and ocean. I felt it coming on and it scared the pants off me! Some of it had to do with continued grieving over my father. Some of it had to do with conflict with _______. But mostly it was a vague sense of wanting to sit very still, to sleep, to go inward, to sleep, sleep, sleep. I gained about ten pounds and the negative self-chatter started up…

Around this time – I had a powerful healing dream. It ended with me taking my best friend Cathy – down into the basement of this “institution.” The Cathy of me is an inner nurturer, a mother, the one who always accepts me and affirms me. We got lost and wandered – lots of dead ends and closed doors. Very dark. She was a bit anxious – but I felt strong, capable, and calm. I told her – I have been here before. I made a map. Even if we are lost – I know the way out. I led us both out of the dark into the daylight. The door closed behind us – and I noticed it had no handle – no way to get back in. As we walked around the outside of the building – I saw a window that was covered in chicken wire. I noted that I could find my way back into the darkness whenever I wanted to return.

I gathered all my dark poetry and began to work with dark moon energies. I told my family that I was going into the dark – and asked for their love and support. I reached out and asked friends to support me. One night I called Cathy – I said “I just can’t be with myself right now” She came and we drove around in her car – and just passed time in silence. I chose to embrace the darkness in me – to allow the depression to run its course.

I felt a lot of sadness, I cried, I had little energy. I felt irritable with my husband (who is very supportive).

Choosing to go into the darkness.

Allowing the depression to take me over.

Working with the dark moon – helped me through.

I emerged in mid-January – just after the three year anniversary of my father’s death.

I am reading a lot about soul loss and soul retrieval right now. I believe that my depression was an invitation to go find some lost parts of myself. There are those who believe that depression can be treated with talk therapy and medication – and I know there is a place for that.

Since you have done the dance of depression and anxiety before – you know yourself what path to take. Trust the little voice inside. From the sharing you have done here – I have complete faith in your ability to surrender to this and survive.

For me – it was time of tremendous artistic expression, dream work, sleep, silence, reading, writing, sitting with the soul poets – especially Whyte and Rilke. As hard as it was for me – I asked people for what I needed. I allowed others to comfort me. I worked a lot with the Inanna myth. Going through the seven gates and being stripped seven times. Arriving in the underworld with no ego, nothing, bereft and unguarded.

As I emerged – I realized that it was the mystery that pulled me through. Grace came and tapped my shoulder and told me I had spent enough time with Eriskigal – and I could ascend. My dreams became about staircases into the sky, light, floating, ethereal, I felt very centered, grounded, calm. I didn’t know if it was an inner experience or an outer one until I went to Kripalu. The women in my group there – saw it, felt it, told me about it, and affirmed my sense of Self.

There will be more descents – this I know – but for now – I am firmly grounded in the middleworld of gardening, art, and relationship.

I am touched that you shared here.


I am interested in your comments on how you navigate through the dark times?


One comment

  1. Like you, I use my dark times in life to work with the dark side of myself. Depression, for me, is often a signal that it’s time to slow down or stop, to cleanse myself with tears, and to rest. It was during my last depression that I started collaging and learning to draw as a way of expressing what I was feeling at a time when words weren’t working for me.

    I know that therapy and medication has helped many, but we’re also similar in that I’ve always chosen to work through these periods on my own, following my inner guide. A lot of my healing involves being outside, letting nature lead me.

    Thank you for sharing this. :)

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