5 Steps for Getting Off of the Ledge and Back into Life.
I don’t have the type of depression where I’m sad regardless of what is going on in my life. I have the type of depression coupled with a dash of some spiritual shame that when bad things happen, I take it very personally. I understand it’s a choice to see things from a different viewpoint, but sometimes that is just really hard. My spirit just became worn out from always trying to look on the bright side. Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is to feel it.
I was probably at my lowest point a few years back when I lost my job and nothing was going my way. It’s one thing to have a broken heart from a relationship ending, but I feel that the abrupt loss of a job is even worse. You find you can eventually live without so-and-so in your life, but the loss of a job could potentially mean a life without shelter, food, essentials, etc. My belief at the time was that I would go when the money ran out. I thought, “Well, fuck it, the Universe obviously must not want me in it.” Job-hunting and interviewing became a daily practice of building myself up only to be torn down. So I gave the Universe a suicide deadline. If something didn’t happen by my deadline, then I was going to end my life. I gave the Universe a good couple of months, so I could research how to kill myself with less pain, as that was a big fear. I also committed to doing my best to find work, as I really did want a happy ending. Of course, any time there was a blip in my unemployment, something worked itself out. Eventually I found steady work. I didn’t starve, bills got paid, and my deadline passed. I’m still here.
I think about this time often lately as I’m facing the same type of uncertainty again. I very suddenly got laid off of a job a few months ago. This time it was a job I really liked, which puts a certain shade of pain on it. I also dealt with a lot of red tape with my unemployment compensation, being that these funds are based off of my employment from another state from the previous year. The stress of the constant interrogation felt like I was defending my mere existence.
We all hear the same advice during transitional time: When one door closes another door opens. Well, I want this door to be fucking great, like painted in gold with a crystal handle. Sometimes when these things happen, they can feel like a real F-You from the Universe, but usually they are an opening for something greater to happen. For anyone on the ledge, literally or figuratively, I have these thoughts for you:
1. Ask for an SOS.
You have to pray, ask, dance, shake your fist at the sky, and ask for help. If you ask for help, you will get it in some form. One day, my SOS came in the form of a Trader Joe’s cashier. I was paying for my groceries, and she asked me what I was up to today. I told her I had yet another disappointing interview which I said was kind of like dating men. We laughed at the comparison. She then said, “Hang on a minute. Don’t leave.” I thought she wanted to give me a job application, but she then presented me with a bouquet of flowers with her own money. I fed off that display of kindness for days. That $3.99 bouquet saved my life for a few days.
2. Life has beautiful things to offer, even when you are in a period of lack.
Not too long ago, when I moved to a new city, I worked three part-time jobs. I was exhausted and unhappy. I felt like I had no time for myself. I stopped that negative thinking, and decided to appreciate whatever I could: the flowers and trees from a nearby park, a drive where I had more green lights than red ones, a good cup of coffee, etc. There are many things that actually go right in a day if we choose to be grateful. Even when I had very little money to spend, I could enjoy naps, sunshine, lilac-scented breezes from neighbors’ houses, and hugs. The best things in life are still free, or well… really cheap.
3. Not everyone is designed for success.
Not everyone is meant to be married, own a house, have kids, and climb up the corporate ladder. For those of us who don’t have all the abovementioned, we are often seen as losers. There are many who will say you are a loser if: you never get married, never own a home, never have a ‘good’ job, are not ‘pretty’ or ‘handsome’, have this type of car, etc. Success, for me, is a little different from this. I love having time to think, journal, play and create. I love working out, being outdoors, sipping wine, smiling, and most of all, I love being myself. I’d rather have a low-paying job doing work that is natural to me than a high-paying job that feels like I’m someone else.
4. Make the things you don’t like into a prayer.
In life, we all sometimes have things to do that we don’t necessarily love. Truth be told, driving makes me nervous. I have had a huge learning curve in recent months as I went from living in a big city as a public transportation person to driving a car. Every time I get in the car, I see it as a prayer. In fact, anything I don’t like doing, I turn it into a prayer, and even say it out loud, like This drive is a prayer.
5. No human being has it easy all the time.
Everyone has lessons to learn. In life, there are times that feel like hell on earth and times that feel like heaven. Know that everything is cyclical. We humans want life to be linear… going up and up and better and better. It doesn’t really work that way. We have to honor what it is. Right now I don’t have a job, which at first felt very strange to not go to an office (or a store) every day, but then I began to see the gift of it. Maybe the Universe wants me to rest more as I’ve been working very hard for many years. Maybe this time in reflection is absolutely needed to create some amazing new art. The last time I was unemployed, I spent a lot of time worrying. I do worry from time to time, but this time I don’t let it overwhelm me. I enjoy it. I breathe. I walk. I kayak after I spend a few hours of job-hunting. I empty my soul, so I can fill up again. I appreciate. I am grateful.