I had a session with my energy healer this week to assist me in kicking whatever remaining viral load might be hanging around me after last week’s bout of the flu. She happily noted, near the end of the session, that I was “no longer living in constant sadness.” Of course, I already knew that. But it was nice to hear it from her. We spoke about my ex during the session, and I actually felt incredibly happy knowing that he is doing well. The long bout of darkness that enveloped me when he left, has completely gone. Poof. Good news. Good news all around.
“The Republic of Sadness” is what I call that place of drear. It is the place where you malinger when you cannot find light in anything around you. Most of my twenties were spent there wandering in some metaphorical lake district wearing cement boots, black clothing, and a twisted, wistful look. By the time I was 32, I learned that I needed more sunlight than the average person. Not in a sun-worshiping kind of way. (God forbid I look like those ladies whose skin has become an alligator bag by the time they are forty.) No. I needed light in a ultra-violet, mood-cure-kind-of-way. I had Seasonal Affective Disorder (also known as SAD). Much of my life I’ve had dysthymia (chronic, mild depression) most of the year, but in the winter (when there is little natural light) it often became full blown clinical depression. This was especially true during the years I lived in the Pacific Northwest. Hence the reason I did my graduate studies in Los Angeles and eventually set down roots in the Southwest. Living someplace with enough light helped me to avoid the paralytic sadness that used to constitute my life.
I read recently that digging around in the garden is good for alleviating sadness. Apparently, the bacteria in the soil is released when you dig around, and they act as a sort of natural version of Prozac, combating depression. Exercise and laughter do much the same thing. This week I consciously went out into the back yard to dig, pull weeds, and rake up the mess. It’s a big job, but every time I was out there, I found myself singing and enjoying it. The dog ran around the yard wild with joy. I could smell the sweetness that permeates the desert this time of year. I came in with dirt under my nails. Calluses built on my thumbs and index fingers. I scrubbed my hands with orange blossom soap and the smell of the dirt running down the drain, mixed with the orange scent, was absolutely heavenly.
Again, I come back to this sense that simple things — every day things — help us make sense of our lives and our feelings.
I left the Republic of Sadness (for the most part) many years ago. Occasionally I revisit it — through loss or grief — but generally my life these days is much more likely spent in the State of Grace. I call on the wisdom of my own life and I listen carefully to what my body and my spirit is telling me. For me, depression was largely unexpressed grief and anger. Once I understood that and dealt with those emotions in a healthy, active way, sadness let me go. These days, I see it as a place that I might vacation from time to time, but I never plan to stay there for long.
And the plague of weeds in my yard? Now, I appreciate their anti-depressant qualities!
© 2012 Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved
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