She opened her eyes and the depression had arrived. Unannounced, it must have entered sometime during the night when she was asleep and not able to see the comings and goings in her house. Being asleep she did not notice that joy had jumped out of the back window and delight was running behind trying to catch up. They were on a mission to find houses where joy and delight would be invited inside. Happiness had left long ago tip toeing behind appreciation, gratitude and laughter.
She was a lonely woman – she was lonely on the inside and lonely on the outside. She knew the moment the depression arrived her life would change forever. Most people think depression lives in alley ways and along rivers and in deep pools, but the truth of the matter is that depression always lives in the basement of the home you are living in. It’s just that we so rarely go to the basement that we don’t notice what’s growing there. Slowly at first, then becoming bigger until it spills outside the confines of the basement into the garden, along flower beds, climbing drain pipes and up window sills all the way to the roof. Covering the whole roof the depression can then descend just like a storm onto the person living in that house.
When depression escapes the basement their friends come along too; sadness, grief, hurt, betrayal, fear and even resentment runs into the garden and hides. You’d think depression much like a black cloud would descend and flatten, but this time it seemed to seep up through the floor boards from below and began climbing the dado walls and up and up toward the ceiling passing cobwebs as it went.
It came up through the soles of her feet and her heart-soul felt darkened and bereft. When it got to her middle eye, the one that can see when she dreams, she was able to see in pictures what she’d done and not done to have this depression ooze up from below. It was stinking, it smelt of all things rotten and decaying. It threatened to ooze from her fingertips and reach out to others to pull them into her smelly pit. Mostly, it didn’t work but she tried and realised that people left, walked away and walked on. You see joy was their friend and laughter too and playing and singing songs and walking in the park and skipping the footpath.
She found herself alone, herself with herself. There were two of her she realised. The one having the depression and the one aware of the depression. The depression had the lead role in the psychodrama on the stage of her life. The bright, happy actors had left for warmer stages and the darker, meaner actors stayed around to perform in bit parts in the play of her life. Yet she was not acting. This was as real as her underarm hair and the bills that needed paying.
She decided to paint some rocks. Stones from the riverbed. Occasionally she collected a few of these stones as she walked around the lake in the sun. She bought some cheap paint from the two dollar shop, a couple of brushes and knew she was going to paint on these rocks and stones.
Years ago she’d done a workshop at a retreat centre in Costa Rica. It was amazing, something to do with how to feel as good as you can in spite of everything. It was with a woman from Australia, she called herself a wise crone. She liked her immediately. A light seemed to shine from within her. She was funny and easy to look at and simply sit with, not having to say anything, not having to speak. In the silence, she sensed the woman knew her and she knew the woman. Somehow weird. But that’s how it went.
Their work was to play at being kids. So they did. They jiggled, set down the world, turkey flopped. They hummed and talked funny and sent raspberries off to others and horse lips too. They napped, sat back to back, hummed into each other’s kidneys and talked to a tree. It was marvelous. She fell into her body. She knows because she’d lived in her head mostly and found herself falling into her pelvis, her heart, her legs and felt as if she was melting like butter along the floor. Delicious feelings, soothing sensations, her heart less jumpy and nerves quieter and calmer.
She also learned a practice from this wise woman. A practice called Wishing Well ‘n’ Happy. It was so simple and she came to realise how profound it is. She hopes you come across it one day. It helped save her life.
photo credit: k.bell. Hundreds of Tibetan prayer flags. Kathmandu Nepal 2012