For this week’s #soamweeklyphoto theme of #love my first thought, naturally, was of my children. But I wasn’t sure how to encompass all of that emotion and experience of these two small people who have so utterly changed me and capture it all in one meaningful photo.
I considered a screencap of me face-timing with my boy while I was on a break from my Spanish class, to say that I loved being able to make this awkward situation work for us thanks to technology. But I realized that what I was really trying to say is that I loved my life. I love how I’ve built it up from various piles of rubble over the years.
And I realized: that’s a new thing for me.
I struggle with depression. A childhood of abuse means that I probably always will. Five years ago I made the biggest decision of my life and the universe responded with an emphatic “LEVEL UP!”. By which I mean that I grew, made a choice, and then life got more difficult. I guess at a time like that one is supposed to rise to the occasion but if I am being honest, I chose to greet it with much grumbling and self-pity. And that’s okay. I had a lot of grief to deal with. Self-pity is necessary sometimes. But life has been unceasingly difficult since then and I am just so so tired and done.
Last semester wasn’t the darkest period of these five years for me, but it was close. My depression and anxiety were roaring, there was a lot of loss in my life, and an unusually busy school schedule with what approximated to 17 units (that was dumb). All I could do to get through it all was to put one foot in front of the other and expect nothing more from myself.
I can’t tell you what changed. A chance to recuperate over winter break surely helped. But something small cracked in my jaded armor I built during the turmoil of these last years and I was able to think positively.
For the first time in a long time, I decided to put my intentions into art. Sometimes I make vision boards at the new year. Usually collages arranged in a way that pleases me and means something to my intentions. This year I took an old, irrelevant one, and painted over it (the funky square bit is where something had been glued down). I wanted to allow it to speak for me so I simply chose two colors – shining gold, rising out of the darkness – and I allowed myself to let it decide what to be. It became a sun, a star, spinning amongst multi-colored stars out in the universe. I let it sit for awhile and eventually it became clear that it didn’t even want to become a collage. The idea was simple: my vision is to allow lightness back in.
I feel great and have for a record-breaking month and a half now (KNOCK WOOD. OKAY, UNIVERSE, YOU HEAR THAT? I AM KNOCKING WOOD). I am able to accomplish all my tasks during the day, phone calls and errands aren’t paralyzing, even my social anxiety is lessening and I can talk in classes again. I am constantly terrified that this will come to an end as mysteriously as it arrived, but I am reminding myself of my intention for this year: allow the light in. I remind myself that everything comes and goes. If another darkness descends, it will also dissipate.
The thing about clinical depression is that the words don’t always work. Sometimes I tell myself these things and I cannot hear them. Like auto-correct for my brain. But for now I am am loving my mental clarity, my children, and I love the life I have built for us.