As has become my habit, I skimmed through my preferred blogs and news sites while waiting for work to officially start (remember, school hasn’t started till the first bell has rung). Sometimes I get lucky and there are a few good stories; some pagan/heathen stuff here, a little world news there, an article or two of Japanese news and sometimes theres nothing at all. Occasionally however, like today, there are single articles that really grab me and give me something to sink my teeth into – today’s Wild Hunt article was one such piece.
Treating Depression in a Pagan Context must have come out mere hours after I wrote yesterdays piece and I’m glad for the proximity because it serves as a good way of helping make the point that I was trying to make yesterday. I can point at the article on Wild Hunt and say “pretty much that!”. There is a bit of a caveat however, in that the article lays out a good approach over all not just with regards to depression. For example, myself. While I would not by any stretch claim that I am suffering from depression in any clinical sense, there aren’t many other ways to describe what I experienced other than to say that I was depressed. In the end, many of the things that I ended up doing to not be in that unpleasant state are along the same lines as what is outlined in the article.
For the sake of being consistent, I’ll use Star Fox’s element designation for the following but they are not something I typically have anything to do with.
Earth – I did something I should have been doing from the outset and bought a round of groceries that were what I needed, not what I wished I needed. By which I mean, I had been avoiding buying meat products like chicken in favour of different kinds of tofu. Totally ignoring the fact that even those times in my diet that have brushed quite close to vegetarian, not purposefully mind, have still included meat as well as protein rich alternatives. For no reason other than because I thought it would be better to save what is less than a couple of dollars by trying to live on a tofu vegetarian diet, I ignored the fact that my body needs meat; in this case chicken. Political statements aside, there was no reason for me to be totally cutting meat out of my diet and trying to replace it with something admittedly, far less satisfying. Sleeping and exercising became much better, more regulated and wholesome; exercising as soon as I get home in the afternoon has made a surprising amount of difference.
Water – Crashing, far harder than I have done in the past, revealed a lot of things about myself that I didn’t know, per yesterdays writ. However other things, beyond the home life, changed too – decidedly for the better. Suffice to say, I was being obstinate in more places than just at home.
Something worth sharing is that a large number of people conceptualise these periods of their lives in very dark themes; shades, clouds, reflections distorted by dark shadows. I’ve always seen it in something of the obverse manner. A powerful light burning away all the places I can hide, like mist in the dawn, taking away everything that makes me feel safe and leaving me naked, exposed and forced to see all the things I don’t want to.
Air – Changing my approach (and attitude) towards my writing, self imposing fewer rules and restrictions and just doing instead of over thinking things. Similarly, not exhausting my brain by constantly drowning it in more Japanese than even an extremely adventurous immersion student would do. Switching which language I’m studying and most importantly of all, giving my mind a chance to catch up and cool down.
Fire – I guess in a slightly circular way, just getting back to cooking again has helped. It was always something I enjoyed doing at home and it still is. In spite of the frustrating kitchenette I have at the moment.
Spirit – Not being afraid to do what I want to do when I’m in ‘altar time’ or working on something for my Praxis. Being on the receiving end of some pretty golden inspiration also helped.
In the end however, I think that Cat-CB’s comment really brings across the most important message to be taken away from the article – that we are just as breakable as other squishy humans:
“I have to believe that every story shared here today has the potential to help someone who is having a hard time acknowledging their pain. But far from being a mark of spiritual failure, depression confronted seems to be a common experience among many of the men and women I love and admire most, in both the Quaker and the Pagan worlds. Something about that underworld journey, perhaps, has the potential to bring a lot of us to deeper wisdom than we might otherwise have had. I don’t mean that depression itself is the teacher–suffering for its own sake is a lousy teacher. But learning to see it, recognize it, and seek out help for it, overcoming whatever illusory “shoulds and oughts” stand between ourselves and the help we need–that process seems to bring depth to enough spiritual teachers that it’s worth noticing.
Nothing in living a spiritual life means living on easy street. And the full range of human afflictions, from old age and cancer through depression, are part of the lives of spiritual practitioners.
The difference is in how we address them–with spiritual tools and with traditional ones.”