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How I Got My Groove Back

They said it was all about accepting. They were quite right.

A little more than a year ago, I sustained the final blows that sent me to the canvas. To boot, it started in Christmas.

Now, of course, the great thing about final blows is that they are final--as final as a priest's final vows. It couldn't get any worse, you're back's broke already and nothing can hurt you anymore. But you do not know that when you're reeling on the floor.

You only have one question in mind when you know you are in the eye of depression's storm: How do I last this out?

I was never bereft of experiences when my resiliency was challenged (and overcome) or when my faith was shaken (and taken away). If we are supposed to count our blessings instead of sheep, one of the blessings I thank for is that I've been through the best of time and the worst of times. Best = rich + young + happy. Worst = Best - [(rich + young + happy) + (God + love + job)].

Really, when you've seen your pathetic self convulsing on the floor or having to leave rooms and restaurants in a sweat because you find them too dark or getting out of bed only at sunset, you pretty much can handle anything else. Nothing surprises me anymore. I just tell my God: Bring it on--but one by one, pretty please?

So, as I was saying, if experience is supposed to be the best teacher, well, I'm quite educated when it comes to suffering. And the one great lesson I've learned is that everything passes. Be it suffering or happiness, they all pass and pass away.

In order to last the storm out, I just say that "This, too, shall pass."

Which sounds stupid, quite frankly. Because what does it actually do to you? Or what do you actually gain from such a supposedly wise maxim?

Only this: that if this, too, shall pass, then that means I might as well go through it and go through it well even if I'm going through hell.

You see, what precisely is shut off in depression is vision. Not only do you become blind to the present but, more importantly, you can no longer see the next day, the next week, in short, you can no longer envision a possible future.

Possible future: a redundancy, but a good one. Because only possibilities can bring a future time and place other than the hell of the present you are in; and because only a future time and place can give you possibilities other than the negation of all possibilities--the death--you are presently going through. But how to see a possible future when blind?

Only one thing, as I found out, is necessary. That is, one has to learn how to imagine.

Imagine? Is this a matter of fancy and dreams and sweet wishes already? Perhaps. After all, what else can you do when you can no longer do anything physically, emotionally, religiously?

The ability to imagine is the last trick in the book you can use when that most uncanny of guests knocks on the door. Actually, I think, depression's last plan and most fervent wish is to capture the kingdom of your imagination.

When it gets your imagination, you no longer have a chance against it. When feeling and thinking and willing (in that order) have been conquered one by one, the crown jewel--what sits on your forehead and thus outside of your already demented head--of the imagination is the last stand. If the black dog gets it, woe to you--because, as Nietzsche says, you find out that all along, you had been hiding deserts within.

Whereas the point was to imagine the desert as a rosy garden. Of course, you cannot imagine and fool yourself that the wasteland you are presently in is a garden; that is folly--and you nowise believe in it much more finally learn to accept it. The point is to imagine the wasteland as a possible heaven--a heaven to come in the future.

This, too, shall pass means that take away all that you want from me, abuse me, and kill me if you can. Because I know that I shall either die by your hand or survive by mine. If I die--well, there's no more that can be said of this. But if I survive--now, this gives me something, even if everything hangs on the if.

If ever the if happens--then what? Well, that precisely is what I can hold on to, what I can in the end imagine. Never mind the present--take it, it's yours; I had my time coming, anyway; what goes around, comes around; this life was never mine.

But of what is to come, Oh! What can I not do when this is over? What can I not become?

If I want to become rich, what can stop me? If I want to love, then love suddenly is bestowed its proper weight--the weight of knowing that love, too, passes and what makes it stay is imagining that very love as lasting future times and places which can only be done by my loving till loving is no more. If I wish to be happy, what can now make me unhappy when I've gone through the vale of tears and have emerged in one piece, laughing, mocking the gods because they thought they could kill me whereas here I am even if it's a far-diminished piece.

That we only know what we have when it's gone had it all upside-down--again. We only know what we receive because we lost it or never had it all.

This, my friend, shall also pass. Acceptance of this truth is the only thing worth accepting.

So what does this knowledge finally give or tell me? That what destroys me today shall nourish me tomorrow.


  1. Anonymous1/15/2008

    Great post.

  2. I can very much relate with having bouts of depression... really sucks the life out of you... "Whatever doesn't kill us will make us stronger" (=

  3. I knew, of course, that we were in the same boat. That is why I do all that I can before the noonday demon once again--and inevitably--pays me a return visit.

    Chin up. It's just the body anyway.

  4. Ey! Thanks for the encouragement (= Guess i'm just getting a lil tired (and old, haha!) succumbing to depression. It's just that its timing is really PERFECT (note the bitterness there); i.e. whenever I have a very important (be it my licensure or compre) exam coming up or a very important paper to submit (like my thesis proposal)... and when vicissitudes arise, they don't only come in pairs or threesome... Usually, they come in fours; they're a LOT! But then again, I believe that God never gives us anything we can't handle (=

  5. well, then that means that your exams, for example, are the triggers. That is to say, depression starts when we feel anxious and worried.

    The trick then is not in delaying or hiding from depression but in actively making sure that we do not lay the conditions of the possibility for its arrival. Meaning, by telling ourselves that there is nothing we cannot handle on our own whether or not we feel good or bad.

    When I feel it coming, I fool my body by doing a lot of things. But that, of course, is another story.

    While it may be true that the God does not give us anything we can't handle, it is also probably true that sometimes it's all our own making by our own very hands--whether they be our very joys or our sadness.

    Take care, yvaugh. And remember that everything comes in threes.

  6. No, the exams don't trigger my depression. Something else does, and it just so coincidentally happens that i also have exams during my depressed state. (Which added to the depression. Good thing my performance level isn't very much affected by my pangs of depression.) They say that feelings of melancholia are there for no reason at all, but in my case, I know what triggers them-- stressors in my environment (and I'm not talking about the exams or proposals here). The feelings don't leave me even if i keep myself busy. Maybe because I've allowed it long enough to gain a foothold in my life...

  7. Sorry for the late response, yvaughn.

    Then it's good that you know the triggers. They say that once you name it, you're then able to conquer it. Well, I know that you know it's not that simple.

    What has helped me though, if you don't mind me saying, is to neutralize the triggers because I know that some of them will never go away. (Actually, there are some triggers that I continue to embrace because, as I always say, these are also the very things that nourish me). By neutralizing I mean bracketing them, like putting them into [square brackets] like in math, which, in the end, does not really disqualify them, but, at least for me, I kind of set them aside and neutralize their power. In other words, I have learned to live with them and even embrace them bot by changing or altering them but changing my responses to them. Because the point is not to run away but to meet them.

    I can very much relate, though. And I do not speak these things because I know better. God, it was the worst of times--but it has also turned out to be the best of times. I pray that you, too, will someday find the worth of these things, not in themselves, but in the future you can still imagine.

    "In the midst of winter, I finally found that there lay inside of me an invincible summer." --Camus


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