By Kristin Diversi
Depression is a funny thing.
Actually, it’s not funny. It’s not funny in the way that Seinfeld isn’t funny—it’s just life, and it’s just there, but when you look at it from the outside, all of a sudden you can’t believe how fascinating the banal has become (is that my life? How did it get like that??). And just like life (and Seinfeld), a lot of us are living a similar story.
No—you are not alone, although it can feel that way, and depression would definitely like us to think that. But will it surprise you to know that there are many people out there feeling the same way you are?
Personally, I was shocked as hell.
Depression has nothing to do with life’s trappings, or circumstances—that’s sadness (which is also very real). Sadness can last a long time, and grief (over a loved one, a lost place, etc.) can stay forever, but depression is different.
Depression doesn’t change when things on the outside do. Like life, it moves on with us—through triumphs, over sunny days, past award season (and no Oscar yet). We can only heal when it moves on with us, through us—when we process the pain that it’s manifesting such as numbness, anger, fear, sadness, isolation (which mask does your depression wear today?) and, in time, heal the root.
To do anything else (ignore it, be mad at it, pretend it’s not there) would be to bury it, or amputate it, and that’s not healing. Most likely, that shit will show up down the road somewhere: mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally. You gotta feel it to heal it. (#preach).
But, Christ, sometimes I wish it were easier. Because, to be candid, depression can suck. Most days, I can honestly say that I am happy—the trappings are great, the circumstances amazing—but I deal with depression regularly.
Even when I am happy.
Like a tiny thunder cloud that never quite clears on a sunny day, or a stray cat that won’t go away, depression and I are never far from each other.
Isn’t that fucked up? Being depressed even when happy? I know.
And yet. It’s there. In a Seinfeld episode, depression is the Newman—he’s not there all the time, but we always know he’s lurking a few floors below. Always in the building and ready to be a pain in the ass.
One of the most difficult parts of my depression is the fact that I can’t “happy” it away—and no one else can, either. My incredible husband can’t love it away—but he’ll try (and I’ll love him twice as much, for the effort). I can’t exercise it away. I can’t shop it away—I’ve tried. And believe it or not, I can’t yoga it away.
And I feel shame. I feel shame because my life is nearly perfect, and I can’t un-depression myself. Shame because my husband is amazing and wonderful and fully supportive, and so how can I still have depression? I feel shame because I do what I love, and it is still there.
What more can you ask for, Depression? What do you want?
Shame because I teach yoga, and I don’t believe that yoga and meditation are always enough. And even as I write that sentence, I know, in my gut, that they are not—but I know that many would want me to think so, to be “more authentic” of a yogi. I can tell you that it helps, and that it teaches me, and that without my yoga practice, I would surely be dead (#nodrama).
But it does not cure me.
Yoga is always there for me. All that I have to do is show up—on my mat, my floor, in my car—and my breath teaches me about my body and mind. If all I do is breathe, I learn where my heart is beating that day and why. Yoga teaches me that I am both never alone and able to be completely inside myself. And there I get to know the company I keep.
Depression is like having a filter on life, and it’s going to be a little more difficult for us to clear it up. It can feel like a layer of sludge, on your head, your heart, your very soul.
What can we do with depression? Since we can’t out love, out shop, out yoga, out sex, out drink, out happy it? (for all of the things I’ve tried, read my future autobiography)
We can learn from it. We can discover new pieces of ourselves.
Get in it. Don’t ignore it. Don’t give in to it—I guarantee you that there are so many people in the world that are thinking of you at this very moment, and they love you more than you know. They are invested in your health and healing—think of one, right now.
Don’t tell them how you are, at first—ask how they are doing. Encourage them to tell you every single thing that is going on with them. Can you help them in some way, with something? Even just by listening?
Doesn’t that feel better?
Loving others, feeling beloved, is a sure way to bring more sunshine into our days.
Get out of the house, even if you just go for a walk. It’s not that cold out—put on a damn sweater. A silly one, if you can. Force yourself to move because you will feel better once your body wakes up and the endorphins kick in. Look around at nature, at people, at the moon, and feel in touch with the universe—because all of that came from the same place.
If that’s not your thing (#crazyhippie), just take a deep breath—the same breath we all take.
Go to yoga. Smile at a stranger—maybe even say good morning. Clean up your house—I hate to clean, but I always feel better once it’s done and the moving always feels better than lying on the couch, looking around at the mess. Use a clean, yummy scent, like Mrs. Meyer’s Lemon-y stuff. Make a cup of herbal tea (there are way too many flavors to not like one—I like Lemon Ginger) and read a book. Funny memoirs always elevate me— Chelsea Handler, Sloane Crosley. Even a sad memoir—Leigh Byrne, Jeannette Walls—makes me feel less alone.
Look into local volunteer opportunities and actually, really email them. Make it something you like because you’re not going to do it if it’s something you dread. Helping others is a way to feel connected, to feel valued, to lift ourselves out of our heads in order to be helping hands.
Buy good chocolate. Hershey’s is for the birds. I like to go to the local ice cream parlor and get a big old sundae—a “feel sorry sundae” or a “do what I want sundae.” They are the same. My mindset is different. Make a gratitude list and put your ice cream or chocolate at the top. Thank you is one of the best ways to realize that, yes, you are depressed but, dammit, you can still be happy.
Because, there is so much abundance—even and despite depression.
Depression. It’s not sexy. It’s not funny.
But, like life, it can move on—with your help.
Kristin Diversi is a star child, born and bred in rural New Jersey and currently enjoying the good coffee and fried chicken in Durham, North Carolina. Kristin received her Master’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science and through nutrition, yoga, and mindful living, she is dedicated to empowering people with the resources to change their health, future, and lives. Find the things that make you come alive- and go do them! Find her at her blog, on Twitter or on Facebook.
Editor: Dana Gornall