We all have challenging times in life when depression can overcome us.
I am one of those people who is especially susceptible to these waves. A wave could be triggered by the overwhelm from world events, a thought that surfaced from the past or a moment where I feel like I have lost all direction towards my life’s purpose. Sometimes it builds for days and sometimes it blindsides me and knocks me down unexpectedly.
During a particularly hard time in my life, I found myself feeling empty. Completely empty. In this moment it felt like a very bad thing. I felt empty of everything—energy, the will to go on, the illusion that had carried me this far.
This emptiness was extremely painful and unbearable—something to avoid, to numb, to escape from.
I lay in my bed motionless with no desire to carry on. It was one of those haunting moments where one questions the meaning of their own existence and remembers that it is a choice to stay in this world.
The emptiness felt so heavy—stifling and oppressive. I couldn’t move from the weight and felt it closing in on me. I wanted to become small and shrink away into the nothingness that seemed to fill my every cell.
In this moment I found some crazed inspiration to intensify the experience. Instead of avoiding it, I wondered what would happen if I dove deep into the emptiness. What if I breathed into it to make it an even bigger void? I thought I might be overwhelmed by doing this, but it seemed like my only option in the moment and a risk worth taking. Becoming small and retreating had not helped, but maybe becoming big and exploring this depression could offer some relief. I had to do something so I decided to go for it.
I took a deep breath and filled the empty spaces inside me to expand them. I felt my lungs expanding with this powerful breath and, like the chamber of my lungs, the space around me responded similarly.
Instead of the pain intensifying, the pain began to subside.
Instead of the depression deepening, it was replaced slowly with deep peace and freedom. When the emptiness was allowed to breathe, instead of being constrained by my fear, it changed from dead weight to an updraft carrying me beyond myself.
I was able to open up to the emptiness, and that allowed me to empty myself of all the baggage that was preventing me from expanding into the new life that was opening up to me. The emptiness turned from an ominous void into a limitless potential. In this space, I, too, could expand beyond who I thought I was in the present moment.
The moment I let this go, the emptiness became a gift that expanded me beyond my previous experience of what this life was all about. The huge amount of energy I had spent resisting emptiness and trapping myself in became available as a rush of bliss and freedom.
It became just the thing to lift me up from my depression—as it was the same energy—just redirected from my little being to something much larger than me.
This self that was feeling so much pain was just a structure, a snakeskin that I needed to shed. I had an outdated idea of who and what I was that was holding me back from the dynamic process that I truly am.
So often we put ourselves into a framework of who we are based on who we have been and who we were told to be. In this moment, I felt so much of this fall away. The identity I had clinged to and had been skillfully crafting wasn’t serving me in the present moment. Here, I realized that there was no need for this identity structure if I was just fully present and fully genuine in each moment.
This doesn’t mean I don’t still experience waves of emptiness and depression. Each time I do feel that old familiar tug of depression, I understand that what is really happening is that I am settling for a limited idea of who and what I truly am, and that something has pulled me off course and I am not seeing clearly.
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Editorial Assistant: Tifany Lee/Editor: Bryonie Wise