I walk a balance line between the darkness and lightness of my personality. Like most people I suppose. Or not? It’s the sort of thing we don’t talk enough about, so I’m not really sure.
I can maintain my balance for years at a time, usually leaning more towards the light side where I am infectious with my enthusiasm, full of adventure and bold in the face of challenges.
But it is an over-correction and inevitably I sway back towards the other side too hard.
On the darker side, I am overwhelmed by everything, depleted of energy, apathetic, with no imagination for what my future holds. I’ve learnt to appreciate that side for the rest and recovery it gives me. I always come out of it brighter than ever. But I still resent being in the dark side.
I’m coming out of the darkness right now and beating myself up for needing medication again to do it. My beautiful friend, Tammie, gave me a phrase that helped.
If your brain isn’t making enough serotonin – store bought is fine for now.
While we were discussing it, she mentioned how angry she used to get at herself every winter when she needed steroids for her asthma. She hated her lungs for not working properly. I wanted to interrupt her to say how silly it was to blame herself for her lungs needing medication – that’s just biology! I caught myself in time, knowing what her response would be. Why do I hold my brain to a different standard?
I guess because we have such control over our brains, it feels like I should be able to control the balance of it too. Yet, we don’t have full control over the chemistry of our brains. Sure, we can lead lifestyles to improve it, and I am actively adjusting things in the ways that I know work for me. But I can’t simply ‘think’ myself into producing more serotonin.
I pride myself on being an actively grateful person. Every night I list things I’m grateful for before drifting off to sleep. I know I live an enormously privileged life, albeit with a large dose of challenges recently. Depression feels self-indulgent. I berate myself for not focusing on the positives and allowing myself to wallow – and thus begins a savage cycle of internal anger and loathing.
I feel like I’m letting my family down, suggesting they aren’t enough to keep me happy. But it doesn’t work that way. I can consciously know how lucky I am and absolutely adore my family for how supportive they are. Yet, the fog that creeps into my brain and envelops me, makes it so hard to show my appreciation for them. The noise in my head drowns out all the encouragements they give me. It feels easier to believe the inner diatribe.
So, while I wait for the medication to bring me back the equilibrium that permits me to walk straight again, I’m finding ways to appreciate the dark side of my path.
- On this side I am more internally focused and put myself first. Something I rarely do on the light side.
- It forces me to assess what is important in my life
- It forces me to assess who is important in my life
- It is an exercise in acceptance, knowing I can’t control everything
- I care less about so many things, that it’s kind of liberating
- It feeds my creativity
- It expands my empathy
- It humbles me knowing that I need help in so many ways
- It humbles me to allow people to help me in so many way
- It makes me grateful for all the ways I receive help