How I’m winning an epic ping pong game with depression

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Getting rid of seven bags of baggage.

I spent the last few years “being” very sad. I can attribute this to many obvious reasons, but mainly I just felt powerless and in a deep pit of despair lined with slippery, seamless metal. I was beyond being attached to my sadness, and I wanted out of it in a terrible way. There were days when I seriously questioned my will to live. I felt angry, resentful, regretful, guilty, ashamed, inferior, and most importantly powerless to solve my problems.

I absolutely refused to take antidepressants, however. I’d once taken anti-anxiety medication when I couldn’t stop thinking of death after the attempted murder of my mother, but I was nothing on those pills. I was an emotional flatliner.

So, I worked tirelessly to sort my shit out through other methods (and when I wasn’t working tirelessly, I was full on wallowing in it). I read book after book on spirituality and self-help, which served to build an overall story in my mind. I attended meditation retreats and got myself into a regular practice, and I even attended sexaholics anonymous meetings. I began a study in permaculture and travelled to nature to find peace. I finally agreed to a therapist at the urging of a close friend, with the statute that I would have X amount of sessions. I was not about to be one of those people that goes on whining about how bad their childhood was for years on end.

So I went to therapy, and it helped some to just talk out loud. I realized through these sessions how much smaller my problems were when they were spoken in comprehensible sentences. I completed the agreed sessions and felt that beyond that, it was only perfecting a sob story that I wanted to leave behind.

Still, I continued to go up and down on a hellish roller coaster of deep to not so deep depression. I knew stuff had come to the surface, but I still used food and weed to soothe my pain. The weed especially was killing my ambition, and I finally quit.

Quitting smoking brought on the emotions hard core, however, so I knew I had to face them head on. I stabbed at the sadness from all directions. I tried Emotional Freedom Technique, otherwise known as “tapping”. Through that, I managed to rid myself of the eating binges I was using to temporarily quell my anxiety. I  kept running, something that has always been the healthy part of my life. I gradually improved my diet and eventually became vegetarian, which calmed me considerably. I went up and down with food until I finally learned to just accept my body for all its imperfections. Sweet body of mine, with a heart that beats without me even asking it to; with legs that walk and fingers that can express these words.

I worked hard, day in and day out, to find my way out. Still, I often woke up so down that putting one foot in front of the other was a celebration. Nothing gave me joy on many days. I was a body, but my spirit wasn’t home. I could smile, I could laugh, but then I was at home crying.

———

During these years, I thought there was going to be some magic bullet. I wanted to be like Eckhart Tolle or Neale Donald Walsh, where they just woke up one day enlightened, but I realized that this was not my story. It was going to be a long, heavy trudge through the darkest corners of my mind before I would see consistent improvement.

It was going to take hard work and admitting that I was attached to a story of victimhood; of taking a sick satisfaction in the confirmation that I was a broken failure. I was going to have to get very focused on watching what I was saying to myself and the ensuing judgement.

After years of beating myself up for being imperfect, I made being authentic my number one priority. I pledged to write about it, which then brought out the raging ego lurking under my sadness. All fear came to the surface: I’m stupid and not creative. People don’t like me.

And through that painful exercise, I’m learning to get over what people are thinking of me. I called myself out on how much I cared about the opinions of readers, and then I quit for awhile and did other things like volunteer in a community garden. I joined the garden committee of my mediation retreat center by taking care of their gardens and making flower mandalas. I spent days reading and watching movies because I could. I forgave myself for not being an amazingly successful human being. I settled on success as being content with right now; of accepting life as it is.

And slowly but surely, I started getting traction on those slippery walls. I started believing that I could fly out. I took control of the idea that I create my own reality; that life is just a holodeck.

I took my meditation to another level. I ordered every cell of my body to purge my entire past of all the shitty feelings that plagued me. I pledged to watch the limiting beliefs that were embedded in me before I was old enough to possibly know what was going on. I told myself that I was no longer that abused little girl and that I was there to protect her.

I called on my angels and god and Jesus and Osho and Esther Hick’s Abraham to assist me. I called on whichever one felt most real to me at that time. I read up on quantum physics and new biology and realized that I AM what I believe. I knew at one point that my subconscious was running the show, and the only way that I could get a hand on the situation was to look at it and render the shit it was throwing at me as meaningless. I told myself daily that I was a new person with each new day. I didn’t have to be what I was. I could change just by deciding to.

I studied chacras, and I listened to any free audio on the topic. I quit my mediocre job and started my own business, which would give me the freedom to travel. I decided never to compromise myself for money again (within reason and responsibility for others).

Still, I struggled. I cried, screamed, wallowed and sat stonily with a total lack of motivation on many days. I felt lonely and useless without a job.

So, I took walks to get fresh air and walk out the loneliness. I went to cafes just to be around people and learned that while I love my alone time, too much is detrimental to my psyche.

I started reconnecting with friends, booking my calendar in advance. I told myself that they needed me, too. I took an honest look at the fact that I’d been a pretty shitty friend by being emotionally absent, but that I could change that. I knew that the love I gave out was the love I would receive.

I called my mom and agreed to talk out the trauma we both endured. I pledged to be better about calling my sister and my grandma. I acknowledged that I’d been a pretty crap aunt to my nephews, but that I could change that, too.

I began purging my life of all the physical shit I didn’t need, giving away seven bags of clothes and shoes alone. I cleaned out junk drawers and closets. I felt great after every possessional purge.

I started journaling on my own and naming all the ways I was “being” that didn’t serve me. I used the Dickens Technique on particularly stubborn beliefs, most notably the belief that I’m not smart enough to sort my shit out.

And just recently, I made a large step:

I study vipassana, which basically asks that we just observe. A “sankara” is a sort of pebble of emotion that is the result of either craving pleasure or avoiding pain (our karmic burdens) that we build up over our lives. When we just observe our bodies after mastering no-mind (by focusing on our breath and ultimately the physical sensations occurring in our body), they come to the surface and pass away. The deeper we go, the deeper levels of sankaras we can bring to the surface and let them pass away through objective observance.

So I spent years observing, and all sorts of nutty things happened. I saw my ego go from entertaining me with my own problems to those of other people and the world. When those topics failed to get my ego’s attention, it became desperate. It was literally like a monkey whom I named it “squirelly”. I saw it for what it was: a hyperactive pet that hadn’t been house trained.

Anyway, one day while practicing, I could not calmly observe the wild anxiety in my gut, which is mainly where it all lives.  I was trying desperately to just watch, but instead I flipped out. I shouted
into the empty air that I wanted this bloody fucking negative energy out of my body. It wasn’t welcome anymore. It had a choice: leave or die of starvation, as I wasn’t going to feed it anymore. I started to imagine that it was attached to my belt loop like a bunch of half deflated helium balloons, and then I imagined untying them and watching them float away. The gut feeling retorted by back lashing with a vengance. I responded by calming down and chatting evenly with this entity. I told it that I could see it attached to me, sucking the life energy out of me. I told it that it could either leave or die. When I called it out, I felt it sink its claws deeper into my belly, like it was some sort of frightened scorpion. I gave it some time to leave, but when it persisted in its desperate clinging, I took all the light from every cell of my body, formed it into a mental laser and incinerated the shit out of this miserable, energy-sucking beast. I continued this until I sensed it becoming crispy and disintegrating. I eventually let my body absorb it so I could get rid of it in little tiny, charred ashes.

In other words for the more down-to-earth readers: I separated my spirit from the negative stories I’ve been telling myself my entire life. I’d done so much research that contributed toward my intellectual understanding that I had the power to simply decide to release myself, but this was the first time I actually felt it. I emotionally knew I had the power to change, and it was nothing short of a cathartic experience.

I had the most blissful night walk eve after that experience. I sat under the stars and cried with absolute joy and gratitude for myself and the self-love that had emerged from this hellish experience that I’d gone through. I literally felt lighter than I’d felt in years, maybe ever.

——–

So, this is where I am now. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel fear or anxiety anymore, or that I won’t feel depression, but I am never ever going back from where I came. I will never let go of that power that I know is within me; that, in fact, was there all along.

———–

If you’ve read this much, I sincerely thank you, and I hope it may help you in your own journey. You’re certainly not alone.

True peace and contentment be with you, friend of light and love and the most beautiful potential energy (that may well be hidden beneath fear and the burden of our collective hell).

9 comments

    • I’m happy my story touched you Nav. 🙂 The act of sharing it feels pretty darn good.

      • It did indeed touch me, Jami. A magnificent journey / story. I would suggest that the fact that you’ve reached a state where you can discuss the journey constitutes a significant milestone on the path to wellness / wholeness.

        Good for you. ❤ again.

  1. I normally don’t read such long articles. My attention span is pretty short, but I read this…the whole thing…You sound like me-with the anexiety, depression etc. I am trying to get out of it. I really don’t know what to do.How do I go about feeling better. I go to the gym, I take Thai classes, I am working on private projects, and I am still not happy. There’s something wrong with my life and I can’t understand what. I am never happy with what I have It was good to read such an amazing story and find out that there’s a way out of this hole. I just need to work on myself.

    • I’m happy you took the time to read it if has helped you even a shred. I usually don’t write stuff this long, but it just couldn’t be helped.

      Sometimes we just have to go through life and struggle, I guess. Life is ups and downs.

  2. Awesome post, Jami. I don’t know how old you are, but I believe you are wise beyond your years. I so relate to your pain — the anxiety, the depression — and to the path you’ve trudged in an attempt to free yourself. I have read many spiritual and self-help books, from Eckhart Tolle to Nisargadatta Maharaj (“I Am That”) to Wayne Dyer to Emerson, Thoreau, etc. I found a true connection to “eastern thought” (I was raised Catholic) and the idea of being “the observer” resonated deep within me. And although I’ve continued to have ups and downs in life, I no longer give the negative states of anxiety and depression the power I once gave them. I am free from the self-torture I unwittingly engaged in for years, when I was desperately trapped in the bondage of self. It has taken perseverance and dedication, but it has been worth it…

    Keep writing. Your words are inspirational. And keep doing what you’re doing. Your path is helping to free others.

    Gary 🙂

    • Thanks for reading this one, Gary, and for sharing a bit more of your story here. I gain so much from my reading up on Eastern spiritualism. I was raised Christian and even had a phase of believing in nothing, but now I know a greater power, and it’s within me too. It’s everywhere…one of my favorite quotes:

      “There is a thinking stuff from which all things are made, and which, in its original state, permeates, penetrates, and fills the interspaces of the universe.

      A thought, in this substance, Produces the thing that is imaged by the thought.

      Man can form things in his thought, and, by impressing his thought upon formless substance, can cause the thing he thinks about to be created.”

      It’s from an old book called the Science of Getting Rich, which sounds shallow but the principle really hits home with me. To just observe is to take an objective, non-emotional look at the situation, and in that, we realize we have the power to think in a new direction, create a new reality and release ourself from bondage, as you beautifully put it. And one more of my faves, from the Tao te ching:

      Knowing others is wisdom;
      Knowing the self is enlightenment.
      Mastering others requires force;
      Mastering the self requires strength;
      He who knows he has enough is rich.
      Perseverance is a sign of will power.
      He who stays where he is endures.
      To die but not to perish is to be eternally present.

      I put a lot of soul into this post, and I actually wrote it after talking to someone else who was depressed. I just wanted to share my experience with him and others…thank you so much for encouraging me to do so. Your words here really mean a lot to me.

      • We definitely have some commonalities in our paths – raised Christian, studied some eastern thought, etc. I, too, went through a period of believing in nothing, but now believe in a higher power connecting everything – “oneness.”

        I loved your quotes – great stuff – thank you! I love the Tao Te ching, and anything dealing with “thought” and the manifestation of reality.

        Gotta run… fading…

        Thanks so much for your ‘thoughts.’ My little quote on thought is: I’ve been told that I think too much, and I’ve given that a lot of thought. Lol.

        Good night 🙂

        Gary

  3. Pingback: The Incredible Sulk | evolution

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