Depression Is a Dirty Little Devil.
I had a real case of the blues about two weeks ago.
I had just gotten back to Berlin. Better said, I had left sunny, warm Granada and my beloved mountains, and I was surrounded by cold, gray and concrete.
What was far more discouraging was that I had met a truly wonderful man, only to find out that he was already spoken for. There are few things more frustrating than having something lovely being stopped dead in its tracks.
So needless to say, the metaphorical dark cloud was looming above.
Thankfully, I know the signs of the blues. And I know exactly what I need to do to tackle them. In fact, I have an arsenal of tricks up my sleeve. I was soon on a diet of twice-daily meditations and morning vinyasas. Most importantly, I breathed. Into the large cavity around my heart. And I painstakingly separated the frustration I was feeling from all the beauty that I had experienced.
I know that when I am feeling blue, it is usually because I have mixed up all the joy and suffering, love and hate, euphoria and sorrow. I know that suffering helps you appreciate joy, but when you start mixing up all the emotions, things get murky. And suddenly you find yourself believing that love is only pain and suffering. Or that doom and gloom lurk around the corner of euphoric bliss. I had no intention of going down that road. So I shifted.
And I soon felt the warm rush of gratitude for all my blessings, even though some may have been tinged with disappointment.
But what do you do if the sadness and the sorrow and the hopelessness are overwhelming? What if all the tricks that you have are not working for you? What if the cloud has descended on you and you find yourself trapped in a relentlessly unforgiving and unabating storm?
I have a beautiful friend. He has dedicated his life to working in developing nations. He goes to all those places that we read about in the news while we are safely snuggled up on our sofas. He gets evacuated from war zones, forced to leave behind locals with whom he has forged deep bonds. He contracts illnesses that we will never be exposed to at our cushy desk jobs.
And he suffers from depression. It is nothing like my case of the blues. It is nothing that Yoga, meditation and a hot bath will cure. It is terrifyingly debilitating. It robs you of all your hopes and dreams, and leaves you feeling like a depleted, hollowed-out version of yourself. With nothing to refill that gaping vacuum. With no end in sight.
And for onlookers, the people who love you and want to help you, it is another type of struggle. The futile attempt not to be a bumbling, seemingly helpful idiot. The effort to simply listen and suppress the urge to offer sage wisdom. It is trying to accept that the right thing to say may, in fact, be to say nothing at all. It is understanding that this is not your battle to fight.
And it is knowing that your place is on the sidelines, ready to spring into action, but only if needed.
I do not understand depression. But I feel its effects on my friend. I see this horrid fiend depriving him of something that brings him joy: doing his job. And though I wish it would poke out its ugly head, so I could beat it with a big heavy stick, I also know that I cannot protect him. There are things that we each have to guard ourselves from. Nasty inner demons are among them.
So, I will take care of myself. Because that is all anyone can ever do. But know, dear friend, that I am always here for you. And though I cannot unburden you, I will never let you collapse under the weight of this load. Though that may sometimes mean ridiculously useless comments and suggestions — and I apologize profusely for them, sometimes I cannot stop myself — I will do my darnedest to be a constant light for you in this darkness.
Melissa Maldonado was born in New York, but has been living in Berlin for the past 16 years. She loves to find the uplifting lessons in her life stories and then put pen to paper, or rather finger to keyboard, to share them with anyone interested in reading. Her life is still unfolding in ways that she has yet to understand. And the ride has been beautiful.