I Swear… It’s Not Depression

Man, September was emotionally draining. September has been difficult for me for years. At best, I get stuck in my head. At worst, I stay in a mildly sullen mood for 30 days. September and October were very low months this year. I swear, it’s not depression. It just feels like…like winter.

Winter is a time of rest and preparation. It is also a time of death. Leaves fall, flowers wither, birds leave, bugs and other animals hibernate. People like me are low-key and exhausted for three months. Spiritually speaking, it is a time of rest and reflection. On the surface, winter is about stillness. Below the surface–in the ground, inside the foliage–winter is about dreaming and manifesting. The trees know they will bud and bloom in a few months. The birds are planning whether they will return to the nest and neighborhoods or find someplace new.

I’m reminding myself that I am dormant, like winter, not stuck.

September is always hard for me because it’s the month my mother and grandfather died. If I were just in my normal grief cycle, I would feel better by now. However, dis-ease has plagued me for several months. What I have been feeling lately is not simply the annual bout of grief for my loved ones. It has caused a level of mental, spiritual, and emotional distress that only comes from being at a complicated crossroads in your life journey.

So, I stopped doing anything non-critical so I could think, and some days, not think. Like hibernation, there is a massive amount of internal activity, but on the outside, I am moving slowly and always ready to climb back into bed to rewatch the first ten seasons of Grey’s Anatomy.

It took a while to figure out the puzzle, but I have finally come to the understanding that I have completely outgrown all my old beliefs, thoughts, and ways of living. I’ve been in hibernation because my higher self knows that I can’t get to where I want to be doing and thinking the same things I have been grappling with for the past seven years.

Suddenly, my patterns of self-sabotage and lingering limiting beliefs are highlighted and underscored for me. It has become clear that my conscious and subconscious thoughts have hindered my progress in every aspect of my life. For example, when I meditate on a desired outcome, I will envision a bright and tranquil future. For twenty minutes, I am optimistic and motivated. Then, my brain will spend the next 24 to 48 hours highlighting, in stark detail, every single thing that is wrong in my life. Or I’ll envision a time when my income meets all of our needs with overflow and immediately start panicking over how many bills are coming out at once. Too many times to count, I have visualized a beautiful future for Coach and me, and within 20 minutes of the end of the meditation, we’ll get into an argument that makes me question our future.

It is a vicious cycle that has contributed to me taking one step forward and three steps back in every endeavor.

This hibernation initiated an Everything Must Go sale in my life. Frankly, it is uncomfortable as hell. Yet, this cycle of releasing is not as bad as the habit and thought patterns that cause me endless hours of disquiet.

One of the biggest tenets of this phase is learning to shift my focus and wrangle my brain. I am often stuck in the world I built inside my head, even though it is not an exceptionally cozy, peaceful place. I confess that I let my mind run amok, often to my own detriment. I still have an unhealthy attachment to realism under the guise of staying grounded. I’m also stuck in a cycle of desiring better while hyperfocusing on the sensation of being caged by my current situation.

My realism keeps me chained to feasible solutions and goals currently within my reach. There is very little expansion in realism. Realism is like blowing up a balloon. You can only fill it so much before it pops – the size of the balloon is finite.

Now, I hear all of you fellow realists grumbling. I do. But take this mental stroll with me.

Yes, it is fine for goals to be grounded in reality. For example, there aren’t any first-class trips to the sun or Neptune, so I won’t waste my time saving for it. That is perfectly realistic. However, it is difficult to visualize and manifest a future where you sell billions of books if all you see are your grammar mistakes and plot holes. The plot holes and poor grammar seem so insurmountable that being the next Stephen King is impossible. Actually, you can’t even imagine being number 828 on the list of bestselling horror novels because you don’t see yourself ever publishing such subpar trash. Everything you write is mindless, improbable, grammatically incorrect rubbish!

How are you going to attain that manifestation now? Your realism took a hard turn into the Land of Pessimism, and you can’t get out. It’s a one-way in, no way out kind of town.

As cliche as it is, I am my worst enemy right now. I understand the power of intention, energy, and mindset. Logically, I know that I have been living in resistance and self-sabotage. But I can’t seem to make that shift from knowing better to doing better. Or maybe the lesson was learned, but the cycle restarted to ensure the lessons were ingrained. My friend and I call this a practical exam. More on that another time.

Someone on Instagram said most people live in desire, and nothing ever changes for them. She said there is a difference between desire and decision. You can desire something all day and never get it, but things begin to shift the second you decide to get it.

And there was my answer. The second I saw the reel, I realized I had spent the last two years living in a state of desire, not change. Don’t get me wrong. Coming out of survival mode is an arduous task that often trudges up trauma. I think it is important to acknowledge that. The quest for healing is more like traveling the Cave of Wonders and less like crossing a hanging bridge. Still, when I look back on the last few years, I can see that I was desiring instead of deciding even as recently as two weeks ago. In other areas, I was frozen in a state of choosing after I made a decision.

Let me clarify. There are things I desire that require action, but I am not executing. I’m simply sitting in the misery that unfulfilled desires yield. There are other things that I decided to do, but I continue to waffle. I am straddling the fence or being very wishy-washy about the decision and the required actions. I lack clarity, and in many ways, I also lack conviction. There is an ocean between my wants and the thoughts and actions that will bring those wants to fruition. So, I need to shift my perspective.

This post was initially titled “Shifting My Perspective,” but I changed it because it was a lie. I wasn’t shifting anything. I was a victim of inertia, and it was bad. I started this post in September, but the September Blues would not let me do more than watch Grey’s Anatomy. So I tried again in October and knew the title was a bald-faced lie, so I changed it. However, I couldn’t finish it in October because the September Blues was lingering, and I was starting to get concerned that I was slipping into depression. I wish I could say that since my revelation, I have shifted my perspective entirely, made decisions, and forged boldly into a new phase. No. That is not how this is happening. I am, however, working very intentionally.

The first order of business is to allow my body to move out of this down period naturally. I think my body was forcing a shutdown because my brain never stops. Your body will enforce its need for rest in any way it can. I have to trust that there is wisdom and purpose in this particular period. I have to trust that it had to happen this way to facilitate the energy required for this transition.

I know I am not the only person experiencing something like this. It is evident from conversations and social media that many people have been feeling off for the past few months. While the purpose and outcome may be different, it is undeniable that a significant number of people have been experiencing a similar downshift or low affect. If you are one of those people, I hope you move out of it with ease. I hope the outcome is full of blessings. During this time, I ask that you give yourself grace. Journal if you can. Meditate if you feel called to. Take time to yourself and just be in your own energy for a while. And if it gets too heavy, quietly remind yourself that better days are coming, and never be afraid to reach out for help if needed.