May 31, 2022

Cat Cuddles, Compassion & Collapse: How I’m Journeying through Depression.

“How might your life be different if you could trust your own darkness…could trust your own darkness?” ~ Judith Duerk

My fingers move as though through molasses.

It’s hard to write, hard to read, hard to think.

His angular white chin rests on my left wrist as I type, and somewhere from within his furry little black and gray body, there emits a low rumble.

Cats are intimately connected with the underworld.

It is also said that they can change the frequency of their purr to soothe different woes and wounds. If this is the case (and I am not merely anthropomorphizing him), then Odin, my remaining fur companion, is participating in a co-regulatory purr session on both of our behalf—and in honor of our fallen companion, Grom, my pug who passed a few months ago.

My breath catches as tears form.

Yes, I am still grieving the death of my gawd-blessed dog and so much more.

I’m weary of it.

If I could turn my grief off like a faucet I would, but that is not how emotions work.

I tried to bypass the grief with busyness and fantasies. I had plans, ya see. I had pictures to send, and retreats to host, clients to tend to, books and articles to write, a body (my body) to keep in shape, and a paid partnership with a certain publication I write for to explore.

And to our best laid plans, death shrugs, chuckles, and soberly says, “So?”

It’s not just physical deaths that can utterly derail us.

It’s the death of ideas, identities, relationships, jobs, and life-phases that strips us to the bone and leaves us questioning: “Who am I? Where am I going? What do I want? What do I need? And my favorite—what the hell am I doing?”

There is a time and place for getting it all done, and there is a time and place to lay in one’s bed for months (not consecutively, but perhaps predominantly), and wait for the world to begin to feel right again.

That is what I have been doing—lying in bed awaiting the world to right itself.

I do other things, too. I work, I write a bit, and I tend to my family. I go to the hot springs to stretch, soak, and socialize a bit. And I lay in bed, me and my cat.

A friend came over yesterday afternoon. I made us coffee and cooked myself breakfast. We talked. He’s a musician, and as we partook our meal, he recounted the first time we met. I had sailed into his show wearing a short, flimsy skirt, ankle booties, and a bodysuit. I was dressed to dance. The next morning, we met for breakfast then came back to my house to pick up Grom.

What my friend had relayed to me is this: that as enchanting as I was in full-on flirt mode, it didn’t compare to the way I lit up when I picked up my dog. “This woman has a partner and that being is it.” I burst into tears then, and now find them percolating, once again.

That was it: Grom was my partner, my bestie, my buddy and, being a witch, he was my familiar. He was the constant companion of my inner child—bound in joy and infinite patience—and it is that young part of my psyche that, on certain days, still feels inconsolable.

This is a physical ache where my cat (when he is not lying on my arm as I attempt to type), most consistently lays. This tender place is high in my solar plexus.

So much is birthed from this nexus in my body.

It is this place from which my anxiety unfurls. It is the wound that aches for my significant other, that aches to feel significant. It is the part that reaches, grasps, and holds much power and much desperation. And it is the seat of my depression.

“Your body needs to be depressed. It needs deep rest from the character that you’ve been trying to play.” ~ Jim Carrey

I don’t know that I need a break from whom I was trying to play. In general, I’d say I am a pretty authentic character, but I do know—I am exhausted.

The five (formal) stages of grief are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

My stages of grieving are: spewing, drinking, and driving which are all forms of running (think fight-or-flight state). Write. Collapse. Repeat.

Enfolded in the spewing phase are often unnecessary confessions and iterations of fantasies, which I suppose are a form of denial. The drinking is self-explanatory, a bit of ye ole numbing agent, but not too much as I am sensitive to everything. And rest assured, the drinking is kept distinctly separate from the driving part. I may be an emotional wreck, but I’m not reckless.

Then we have the writing phase, which will flicker on and off as it sees fit, but at least is a healthy outlet for my feelings. It graciously and awkwardly weaves itself through all the phases, sometimes effortlessly, sometimes excruciatingly, extracting syllables and sentences from my sluggish synapses.

The final phase of grief, for me, is collapse and it is what I do believe many people think of as depression.

As someone who, when stressed, is typically far more prone to anxiety, depression feels like hitting a brick wall and being knocked unconscious. Brain fog and lethargy are the primary indicators, but at a primal level—my hips cease to twitch.

I thrive on my sensuality or, more accurately, depend on it to navigate the world. Feeling numb and lethargic is a little like being suddenly blinded.

What does a person do when they are deprived of the key way they function in the world? Well, there is no choice but to slow down. Way down.

Down is the key word if we want another way of looking at depression—as a form of psychological descent.

Descent is the root of the Persephone myth, the Spring goddess who journeys to the Underworld to meet the darker aspects of her own psyche. Now in the modernized versions, she is dragged against her will, but in older stories—she goes willingly.

And though I may have not descended willingly, this is where I find myself, me and the cat. Hours spent dreaming, moving more slowly than I can ever remember. Even now, as I’m trying to type, the cat nestled securely on my legs for the time being, I feel the magnetic pull of sleep and taste the dreams toying with me.

I cannot remember a time when I felt so heavy.

I let myself sink.

It is dark down here—dark, but not scary. It is thick, slow, and red—like being back in the womb.

And, as I feel myself drifting, I cannot help but wonder, “Who will be born from this place?”


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