For several days I've been pondering a follow-up entry to "Prozac and Polar Bears," but have been unable to narrow down the topic of Paganism and Depression to anything I could cover in a blog post. My experience with the subject has been so deeply personal that it's impossible to generalize.
I did happen upon a couple of insights I thought I'd share, but first I feel I should say this:
I am not a therapist. I do not have a college degree in anything at all (I majored in getting high and eating tacos). Nothing I say should be construed as medical advice or really any kind of advice. Enormous grains of salt all around.
If you're feeling suicidal, don't wait for my blog to help you--go to the damn doctor. Call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-784-2433. (Thank you, Nadia, for the reminder.) Find someone who can medicate you long enough for you to get your feet back under you, then get some therapy and address what's really going on. Any spiritual relationship between suffering and enlightenment should be considered after you've put down the gun and had a minute to breathe.
And if you've tried that already and it hasn't worked, try again. There are a hundred meds and thousands of therapists out there. Set your intention with the universe to regain your health and then make the calls, research possible alternative treatments, and keep trying. Nothing truly worthwhile comes easily.
I say this because years ago when I was suicidal, it wouldn't have mattered if you had told me that my depression was going to lead me to mountains of cash, world peace, and sweaty monkey sex with hot celebrities. It wasn't so much that I wanted to die as it was that I just didn't want to live anymore. Those who've never had serious depression might not recognize the difference, but there is one, and in my case it helped keep me alive.
Of course, so did God.
If you have over the years of my online presence followed the story of me and Jeff, you probably already know that we met face-to-face in my living room one night, the first time I ever danced myself into ecstasy.
What is not as commonly known is that I actually had an encounter with Him before that, on another night that involved me, a bottle of pills, and the cold tile floor of my tiny apartment bathroom.
It was then that God informed me in no uncertain terms that if I went through with it, I was going to have to do all of this over, and over, until I learned what it was I am supposed to learn from depression. So I could either put on my big girl panties and deal with it, or I could stay on the Bipolar Coaster for as many rides as it took for me to get it right.
Believe me when I say that in that moment, the old Christian threat of hell as punishment for suicide was nothing compared to the idea of having to endure my early 20s again.
It's rather telling of my mental state at the time that, presented with the voice of God in my head, not only did I not think I was imagining it, I completely believed what He was saying.
Which is why when He said, "Get up," I got up. And when He said "Stick your finger down your throat," I did. And when He said "Now go back to bed," I did.
And despite recurrences and setbacks and tragedies and violence and despair and repeated existential crises and Fox canceling Firefly, I’m still here.
There’s something about having a deity take a particular interest in your mental health and personal evolution that gives everything you do a feeling of importance that can, I'm sure, lead to self-importance, if you have the sort of patron who tolerates such silliness. It doesn't stop the breakdown from coming, but it does lead you to ask, "Okay, what is the meaning in this?" much sooner than you might have if there weren’t a snarky Fey God hanging out in your living room with his Cosmic Cattle Prod.
You know, it occurs to me as I type this that I might be more insane than I think I am. Or rather, I might be, if other people I know whose sanity I trust hadn't met Him too.
(Of course it's possible we're all just "nuttier than squirrel turds," as my coven sister Squishy would say. But in a worldview that involves casting spells and talking to Faeries and making offerings to old half-forgotten gods, I suppose it's all relative. To vaguely restate something Lupa said, it's not really so important what your kind of "crazy" is, as it is that you're a functional and sensible adult who can hold down a job and have a conversation without making people twitch.)
But I digress.
At this point I've officially wandered so far from my original point that I'm going to have to split this into another post, but now you know a little more about where I'm coming from with this subject, so hopefully those going through dark times who read these posts will understand that I'm not approaching from the outside, I'm digging my way up just as hard as you are. I don't have all the answers, but I'm beginning to understand that life isn't about answers; answers imply finality where there is none. Life is about change, and in that realization I have found immense and powerful hope.
One of the most important things that God ever said to me was, "The antidote for tears is sweat."* Depression is a disease of inertia; the only way to cure it** is to get the stuck and stagnant energy of your life moving again. It may seem impossible from where you sit, but even the smallest effort on your part to meet the gods halfway can change everything.
* - Actually I think God was paraphrasing e.e. cummings. But it’s still true.
** - I'm not sure there's really a "cure" for chronic depression so much as it's something you have to deal with throughout your life; but then, it depends on the person. So I'm not being flippant with the word, but your mileage may vary.