When I am disconnected, out of flow, lost, not myself, in a dark period of disengagement with myself and my life…it feels like:
I am not engaged with my own healing process
I am not engaged with my creative process
I am avoiding, distracted, appear busy but not really doing anything in depth
Everything is hard
I don’t really want to be around people
I stop asking or dreaming or wanting or hoping
I stop thinking about the future
I feel powerless and helpless
I feel lost
I feel confused
I don’t remember who I am and what I really want
The things that excited me before do not excite me
It takes a lot of work to try and get back into the flow
I question everything
I want to understand everything and try really hard to figure it out with my mind to no avail
I think something is wrong, wrong with me, wrong with everything and I can never fix it or get back to the way I used to be
Happiness feels so far away, so foreign
I lose perspective
I don’t take care of myself
I don’t do things that are good for me
I collapse a lot as in go through brief attempts of trying to pull myself out then giving up, trying then giving up
I forget my heart, I rarely cry, or cry too much, my heart feels overwhelmed or numb. One extreme or the other
I forget why I am here
I forget my value and the value of what I do
I lose my identity, and do not remember who I am
I feel wounded, broken and lost
Any decisions I make while in this place fall short somehow and often lack in rootedness and often stem from fear
I feel like I am in a dark night of the soul
Some might call these periods depression. It really doesn’t matter what you call it but what matters is what you do during these times in which you feel so far away from yourself.
In my late twenties and early thirties I took medication for it. And that served me for a while. It was really important that I manage the symptoms at the time. I didn’t really understand what was going on for me or what to do about it or what it all meant. In time I started to gather tools, and a greater understanding of what was beneath the depression and I started to find ways of healing and moving through these times.
I learned early on a pattern of checking out of my life in order to survive. It became an automatic response for me whenever things became uncomfortable or hard in any way.
Depression for me normally comes right after a checking out, which often happens in response to something being "too much." If I don't notice the checking out, I become more and more checked out and pretty soon I feel far apart from who I truly am, what I'm saying yes to and any joy or pleasure. It's kind of like falling asleep at the wheel. By the time you notice , you may already be in a ditch somewhere.
For me the falling asleep, the disengagement, feeds on itself and can continue for days, weeks or even months.
I’m going to tell you about what has worked for me but know that you alone have the answers for how you can move through these dark periods. Everyone is different. Note: Do not hesitate to use medical resources such as medication if that feels right for you.
These days it’s a matter of taking care of myself on all levels, approaching it from a mind, body and spirit perspective. Also having an understanding of my seasonal rhythms helps. The winter naturally brings on these periods for me and I know that ramping up my approaches during the winter months is necessary.
Sometimes I just have to be in the pit for a while before I am ready to emerge.
Today, when, I’m in it, it’s still hard and yucky, and scary because I know when I am not in alignment and I know what it feels like to be fully engaged in my life. There is great sadness, fear and shame when I’m not. The lie that plays itself out is that I am failing everyone, I am a fraud. This gets me even more kinked up and pretty soon I am a big hot mess trying to find my way out of a hole that feels deep and endless.
That is the truth of it for me.
I will also often try to medicate myself with food during these periods, but the food and the extra weight takes me further and further away from myself.
I can feel myself less.
The weight acts as a buffer especially in my belly, a buffer between me and what I'm actually feeling and what’s really going on for me. It is a subconscious way of protecting myself from the uncomfortable feelings of being in this place.
I know this but I'll eat because not feeling is more comfortable, and familiar.
I watch and try to be compassionate with myself until I’m no longer running from myself, until I am exhausted enough to say enough.
For some reason during these periods of darkness, this is what it takes to come back, I have to get really tired of being out of a alignment to start to come back to myself. It is as if I have to swing far to the left before I can make my way to center because center is a new place for me, because center feels good and can also be a scary place to the parts of me that are not used to things being okay, to things being more than okay.
Paths to Coming Home
What helps me immensely, is the understanding that these periods are not endless and in fact they are very important to my process.
When I am in this place, it is often a time of deep contraction around a larger expansion. This darker period is there so that I can rise up to the level of the next expansion.
This darkness is rich with pieces of me that still need healing, surfacing because I cannot yet step into my new way of being until I have resolved them to some extent.
One thing that truly helps me, is knowing that the dark periods are normally followed by a period of great expansion. I must often step outside of myself during these times and remind myself that it is temporary. Trusting the process, knowing this is a temporary place relieves my weary soul.
Sitting in the truth of what is arising, not running from it, facing it, feeling it, speaking to it, loving it, having the patience to reflect on it often relieves the suffering.
During these periods, my only job, is to focus on feeling good again, on finding joy again, and while I normally cannot leap from the dark period into joy, I can find relief and slowly start to make my way back.
Rarely is it instantaneous, although that does happen and there are moments in which I can feel joy, I can laugh, and feel pleasure.
Self care is a must and even if that means just the simplest of things, that is enough.
Loving myself through it and letting go of the need to understand why, is also important. Trying to figure it out is truly a mind-fuck until you start to make your way out. Then you can truly get a better perspective on what was going on.
While your in it, not so much.
Honoring the no, the “I don’t wanna” . Sometimes we don’t want to get out of the pit, it is familiar and being in the light and outside and seen may feel way too hard. The little girl inside who wants to be safe and in a cocoon needs to be heard and honored too.
Let the “I don’t wanna” voice speak. Speak from her voice in your journal, let her have her say.
Finding the yes even in the smallest things. Perhaps the biggest things I can say yes to in these periods are moments of petting my dog, or taking her for a walk, or cooking a meal, or drawing a doodle and that is enough.
Movement is lifesaving, be it dance, walking, stretching, enlisting my body and coming home to my body, invariably brings me back to myself.
Breath and focusing on it, noticing it, breathing deeply, can really bring me home.
Writing, makes me feel alive, it helps me un-layer things, unpack them, make sense and understand my own power. Sometimes it just helps me to dump it out, the darkness in my head.
Painting is one of my straight lines to spirit. When I’m painting, I feel spirit move through me, I know I am being spoken to. I believe again.
Connecting with others, being seen where I am, being accepted, having intimate conversations with people I trust can make such a difference even if all I want to do is isolate.
Know the truth of my value, why I am here, what I'm here to do and reminding myself that my life extends far beyond me. It's not just about me. I am here to awaken aliveness in myself and others. It is perfect that I am called back to my own aliveness constantly on this journey.
Finally, and I don't know any other way to say this but lightening the fuck up, not taking everything so seriously, relaxing, softening, laughing at my own endless brooding..my need to make sense of it all, because in the end who knows what it all means and don't you just want to enjoy the damn ride?
Yeah that..enjoying the ride, living, opening, softening, laughing, crying, feeling, raging, smiling, loving, it's how we are meant to live this "one precious life"
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"