One of the things about really sitting with my depression over the last few weeks has been an increased awareness of what truly alleviates it. Not in the sense of being able to tidy it up and put it away, but in moving towards a more viable and sustainable state.
In all of this, perhaps the most surprising (re)discovery has been of my natural gloom and melancholia. I’ve spent most of my life in places where a mournful nature was not welcome, and hiding that may be one of the reasons I’m here in the first place. The part of me that resonates with tragedies, graveyards and Leonard Cohen songs. Mournful, melancholic states are very different from depression because for me at least they do not confer numbness, powerlessness or an inability to act or function. Mournful I can live with, it’s a headspace I can create from and it allows me to respond honourably to all the things in this world that break my heart. Allowing my natural misery may in fact ease my depression.
Walking is helping, because I respond well to landscapes, and I find it grounding. Walking allows me to knock the destructive anger out of my body without harming myself. Not having to talk much is also good, not having to entertain, or sort anything or be useful is incredibly healing. Walking in quietly accepting company is making a lot of odds.
Hugs are an interesting double edged sort of thing. Where I’m not comfortable, those can leave me in worse places. However, in those exchanges where being hugged feels like affirmation, acceptance and care, I’m finding that really helps me to feel calmer within myself.
Iggy Pop has been an unexpected source of medicine, too. He has a Friday night BBC radio 6 program that I catch on listen again in the week. Warm, eccentric, generous, surprising and with a startling play list each time, he has a knack for making me feel that bit better about life, and humanity. Little bits of life philosophy interspersed between songs, diversity, acceptance, recognition that we are all flawed and messy and doing what we can with that. He’s my current favourite for world leader. He has also made me realise how ground down I am by the cruel, shitty, destructive, toxic behaviour of too many humans.
I can’t reasonably turn away from the things that are driving me a bit mad sometimes. I can’t ignore extinctions, climate change, austerity, human rights abuses, eco-system destruction and all that greed achieves out there. But I can cry over it, and walk, and listen to Iggy Pop, and in that mix it might be possible to be present, and not be broken by it.