Day 8 – It’s almost 10:00am here in the mountains. The sky is calm and clear and a budding spring sun is growing brighter as the day unfolds. It’s Sunday. My husband is still sleeping and my son is in his room listening to a book on tape (yes, we still have tapes and a tape player :) and working on a project. I’m sitting in the quiet of the living room looking out our north facing picture window to the mountain ash berry tree in the front yard, bare bones stark against the blue expanse of sky painted above. I just got done sitting and as I look out onto the day I shirk back.
My husband struggles with depression, which means our whole household struggles with depression. When someone in our close family has a difficulty it is not an isolated event that pertains only to their well being but to the well being of the whole family. While the winter months are not the cause of his depression it certainly gets much worse through the darker, colder time of year. It has only been in the last couple of years that I have developed more understanding about what he’s going through and how it impacts everything he does. Depression lies in his ancestry and is a deep root. Thay (Thich Nhat Hanh) often talks about our inherited seeds that are passed down through many generations and how we need to be aware of and take good of them in order to transform them.
It is easy to throw words around without thinking much about their meaning or impact. Depression is one of those words that has been watered down and its meaning diluted. “Oh, I’ve had such a crappy day I’m so depressed,” or, “I can’t believe the store is out of chocolate ice cream, that is so depressing.” So in a way it makes sense that when a person is actually struggling with depression it can be challenging to identify it and understand just what that means. However in my deepening understanding I will say that I feel more powerless. I know that while I can support his path I cannot do the work for him that is necessary to strengthen his mental health and well being. And with it affecting the household as much as it does it makes it extremely difficult to not want more control over the situation.
At 33 years old I struggle with chronic pain from a nerve disease called CRPS (or RSD) that resulted from an injury I had in 2005. I’m on disability and work hard everyday to manage my physical pain. It has been a long road and still continues. With the strength of my mindfulness practice and my determination to not let my pain define me as a person I am committed to taking good care of myself. I’m the only one that can truly take care of myself. Others can of course help support my journey and my community of friends and family are vital to my overall heath and happiness but ultimately if I am not invested in my own well being and putting forth the responsibility, effort and diligence to practice self-care then transformation is not possible.
Some days his depression is like carrying around a bag of rocks everywhere I go. Today is one of those days.