“Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.”
Martin Luther King Jr. was onto something when he spoke these famous words during his 1963 ‘I Have a Dream’ speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial site in Washington, D.C. The words, though, were not first spoken by Dr. King, but rather were a stanza in a Negro Spiritual, often sung by enslaved Negros to help them get through the day’s work. It is said that the journals of their White masters recorded that the slaves showed an amazing sense of strength while singing the spiritual songs.
Yesterday evening while in the shower (where my best ideas are born, of course), I found myself uttering these words: “Free at last; Thank God Almighty, I’m free at last.”
You see, the veil has finally lifted … my depressive episode, that is.
And I started thinking, to the person living with depression, a mental illness can feel a lot like enslavement. You’re bound by the mental shackles of self-loathing, guilt, insomnia, restlessness, impaired concentration, feelings of worthlessness, weight loss or gain and even thoughts of death or suicide; sometimes you even feel enslaved to the medication you take for your illness. You feel like, Will it ever end?
The cycle that is depression is vicious. It seems like a never-ending battle between ‘feeling depressed’ and feeling “normal”.
I feel okay, happy even.
I remember this person. Woohoo! This is amazing!
Oh no. Here comes the darkness.
No! I will not be depressed. I will fight this!!
I’m too tired to fight anymore.
Fine. I will just wait for you to go away. For I know this too shall pass.
I see the light. It’ll be over soon. Just a little longer.
Hey, I feel happy again!
Earlier this month I talked about my depressive episode and that it was the longest I’d had since I’d started taking the SSRIs. I just felt like I couldn’t shake it, no matter what I tried (and, believe me, I tried a lot!). And then, this week, I made up my mind that I wouldn’t live in the “but I’m depressed” whoa-is-me state of mind I had been for the three-and-a-half weeks I’d been silently suffering with my depression, thanks to forgotten anti-depressants and a weekend of binge drinking, but rather I’d take every day, every moment as they came and focused on the silver linings of my day.
I woke up today.
I have an amazing view from my desk at work.
I made a great professional connection that I hope will steer my career where I’d like it to go.
I’ve been offered an opportunity to write about my depression on another blog/online magazine.
I went for a long walk one day … and then another … and then I remembered how much I love the way walking and running brings clarity to my mind and helps break down the walls of depression.
I started taking my vitamins and supplements again, realising my body is lacking nutrients to help it fight my disease.
And here I am today, happily blogging to you.
Of course, none of those things – the medication, vitamins, sleep, running, mindfulness etc – alone have lifted the veil of depression. But together they help me get back on track.
No doubt another depressive episode will eventually come upon me again, but for now I will enjoy the ride on this happy wave until my body and brain say otherwise. Because life is for living in the now, not in the “what ifs” and “wonder whens”.
Peace and love xo