Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Depression? Or a New Season?

So there I was in our dark little house in a California mountain town in 1986 feeling something new. New, but not good. I awoke one morning and no longer felt like reading the books I'd always loved or thumbing through the magazines which had always inspired me (BORing)... and I didn't want to work on crafts, paint any rooms or take any walks--all things I'd previously loved.

Nowadays, nearly everyone has heard that those can be signs of depression. And I agree. When I noticed myself no longer enjoying what had once almost defined me, that's right about the same time that my years of depression began.

For me, that depression didn't stem from a chemical imbalance, but rather, an attitude imbalance. All sorts of old ideas, expectations and disappointments spun,lopsided, inside my head. It was as though they all caught up to me in a cataclysmic tornado. Or something. I had no idea what was happening, being too stubborn to see most of it.

Anyway, this post isn't really about that... It's about this other thing--this thing of strangely no longer enjoying what you once could hardly wait to do. Like I said, I agree that it can be a sign of depression... or of finally spiraling because of your out-of-alignment thinking... or of eating the wrong foods for your particular body (trying to live off of processed sugar, caffeine and animal fat, for example, especially when you're as old as I am. Take my word for that one.)... or not getting enough sleep or exercise or good air or good friends, for that matter. It's amazing how much a bit of online research can help regarding depression symptoms (especially if you actually use the advice you find). And a trip to a good holistic doctor, of course.

So there is that.

But there's something else I'm noticing about my own self. There are times all these years later when, suddenly, I no longer feel like doing those things which I absolutely loved doing only last year. Or last month. Something--some hobby, some favorite movie genre, some specific part of my whole identity-- suddenly will feel like only a memory. A pleasant memory, but something very much removed from who I am and what I find pleasurable or fulfilling today. Whatever it may be, I find myself no longer even caring much about it at all.

But now in my late 40's I've learned not to panic when that happens (and it's happened a lot this past decade). For I've seen it's all rather like shedding of an old skin. A leaving behind of what I once was so to make room and time and energy for what I am becoming.

In other words, it's become, for me, a sign that I am growing-up.

It's rather like this: when I was ten-years-old, I loved to play Chinese jump rope and read Winnie The Pooh and climb and skate and run up and down hills. But through the years, I left those much loved things behind along the trail of becoming who I am now. And during my 40's, especially now that I am queen of this empty nest, I'm leaving more of what I loved, but no longer love, behind me, because I'm growing some more. I'm simply taking a few new steps in a forward direction.

And that is nothing to be afraid of. Actually, it's all pretty exciting and cause for celebration. A new season in Life usually is--that is, when looked upon by someone who wishes to grow beyond that which she has always known.

"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me." ... 1 Corinthians 13:11

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