Depression a Vehicle for Greater Ease
Depression a Vehicle for Greater Ease
As a large chocolate cake is placed on the table before me a prisoner officer enquires why I am leaving my position as a mental health nurse, in a correctional facility. “I came here with a goal to achieve, I have done that, now it’s time to go now”. As the words spilled from my mouth I was struck by how easy it sounded. It was anything but.
My first indication that I had achieved my goals was up was a very subtle, instinctive recoil in situations which only yesterday had not solicited such a response. This process stepped up a notch as I noted myself feeling ‘haunted’ as I thought of work, as a strong sense that something was ‘not right’ began to pervade me. I knew this space well for I had lived it for years but that did not mean I understood it. Despite it being over 15 years since I suffered depression from that first instinctual recoil part of me hurtled straight back there like it was only yesterday.
Determined that I was not going to let a ‘knowing’ based on ‘yesteryear’ cloud my today, I allowed the depressive process to unfold, in deep trust that the last 15 years had prepared me for this moment. I descended into a journey with depression 20 years ago, a chaotic debilitating depression, that was only further exacerbated by an innate sense that *I* had created it The irony of a complete and utter absence of an equally, innate sense of how, did not escape me and further compounded my depression. My growing dissatisfaction with an absence of answers, eroded into a terror that I would never learn how to ‘live’ what I ‘knew’ and created an anxiety which left me nostalgic for depression.
I was shocked to discover that despite all I had learned over the past 15 years that I was still able to re-descend into such helplessness, hopelessness and confusion so quickly. The paradox being that it had not happened quickly at all, it was so enough that I had witnessed the black clouds of depression and anxiety; insidiously advance toward and slowly engulf me, revealing a self I thought long gone.
Maintaining a dis-eased state requires more energy than maintaining a state of ease (health), my depressive symptoms’ were indicative that I was no longer at ease. Exhausted it became increasingly challenging to stay present as my sense of dis-ease increased. I recognised that it would soon require all my energy to maintain survival in this increasingly dis-eased state, leaving me little available energy to remain present and respond creatively to the process. I felt vulnerable to a part of me dying. Importantly I recognised I only remained vulnerable if I abdicated my creative response-ability. To accept creative responsibility is to accept that my answers lay within, not without.
The art of healing focuses on our experience, and the meaning we make, of disease, for it is the dis-ease that holds the key to creating ease. Whilst my clinical presentation indicated depression I never considered myself as ‘unwell’. My experience of ‘depression’ is not one illness but my greatest gift, a highly tuned compass forever guiding me towards greater ease. My instinctive recoils, sleepless nights, haunted dreams, feelings of helplessness were signs that part of me was no longer at ease. I listened very carefully for my dis-ease foretold a story of the potential of a greater ease. With each ‘sign’ I questioned ‘How would this situation need to change to turn my dis-ease into ease?’ I ceased surviving what was and began creating what I desired.
My greatest weakness has most certainly become my greatest strength. My experience of ‘depression’ has been that of a teacher forever aware of a greater potentiality, gently highlighting that which is no longer aligned with ease (dis-eased). It is a message from my unconscious to wake up and listen to my insights and utilise my creative endeavours to propel me upon my journey of individuation, without which I would not be the person I am today.