Perspective is everything. Perspective keeps you in check, sheds light on unseen features, and endeavors you to seek inspiration. Perspective also circumnavigates intention. But… grief has a way of robbing you of it and everything else in-between.
When grieving, perspective (and thus intention) becomes hard to maintain. It feels unwieldy, erratic, and painful. Perspective ends up transforming from being “the end in sight” to “there is no end in sight.” And because of that shift, setting intentions is no longer the thoughtful, personalized task it once was. So as I settled into a livable cadence with grief, it dawned on me that I wasn’t just grieving—I was depressed.
I’d experienced depression before and have had various diagnoses surrounding it since the age of 12. But this time around it was different. My usual tricks to evade its clutches simply didn’t work. For the first time in a long time I was stuck and that sensation alone was suffocating. So, as you can imagine, the notion of “keeping things in perspective” flew out the window. I didn’t know what to do. I mean, the experience itself and resulting impact was out of my control. I knew that I would and could eventually regain my sense of self, but in order to do that, I had to let myself linger just beyond the outskirts of what I felt to be my truest self.
I’d soon realize that was a pretty lonely task.
It took a few months of Self-Imposed Solitary Strategy for me to realize that it wasn’t working. Serendipitously, a chat with an old friend changed all of that. He and I commiserated over depression’s directionlessness and how frustrating it can feel to want to get off the couch, only to end up dissuaded or disheartened moments later. As in: I can have the best of intentions to do something, but, it might not always be rewarding at the start. From here my friend reminded me that intentions can be flexible—I simply have to get up, go, and let the wind take me a teensy bit. Even if I feel a little uneasy.
For me, it starts by sitting with that discomfort. I do my best to offset triggers and embrace the stillness, tears, and lack of motivation. And most of all I do my damndest to be kind to myself. It’s been hard to let go of expectations. I find myself asking: ”What is my “normal” now? What do I want to work toward? What feels good anymore?” I often feel overwhelmed by those questions. But I make a conscious effort to I step back, sit down, and ground myself however I can. Take a deep breath. Nothing requires an immediate answer. I don’t need fixing. I’m not broken—I’m just figuring out what grief and depression means to me relative to my sense of self.
(Reminder to self: That’s a big ole thing to figure out.)
I’ve also learned that I have to leave labels and timelines behind. I say that because labels or timelines come with expectations. And expectations for myself when grieving or depressed can further exacerbate the well I feel stuck in—because, what happens if I don’t succeed or simply don’t feel like doing it? I “fail.” Rather than set myself up for “failure” I created a list of reminders to help me keep my intentions and perspective in-line with my heart song. Note: this list may or may not work for everyone. Please be cognizant of that when reading.
Image via Kate Pugsley
BY Monique Seitz-Davis - October 29, 2018
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.
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