While I had intended to write more about how we find meaning in our lives, tonight I find myself unable to continue this series. The truth is that I felt lousy all day, and I was in a terrible mood. I felt irritable and annoyed for no apparent reason. Throughout the day, I took three bubble baths to relax, and while I now look like a prune, it's after 1:00 a.m. and I'm not relaxed at all.
I finally realized that part of my discomfort is that I'm still slightly depressed and I'm finding it difficult to enthusiastically embrace the topic of finding meaning in life. One of the reasons is because, as I mentioned yesterday, during a depressive episode, I lose whatever sense of purpose I feel I have.
Of course, the truth is that I intellectually know my sense of purpose doesn't just disappear. It just feels like that. I also know that once an episode is over, I shouldn't feel "better than great." But, in the old days, since the medication I took kept me cycling from depression to hypomania and back again, that's exactly how I did feel for many years, although I don't now.
So, what I have to get used to is coming out of a depression and feeling somewhat disoriented and lost, rather than euphoric. And that's been disappointing.
For all those years of being on a roller coaster that I was told (and read over and over again) was biochemical in nature, I've also realized that I ultimately felt powerless to stop them. Over time, what I internalized from my psychiatrists was the feeling that depression is an illness I am powerless to prevent or even diminish because I am medication-resistant.
The alternative viewpoint offered by the so-called alternative healers I turned to, was that if they could just find the right amino acid or the right combination of vitamins and minerals, I could end these episodes. And, that too, never happened.
And, in all those years, while I tried my darnest to find some way to alleviate the pain and suffering, I never thought to try and embrace it in any way, or to learn from it. I never considered that my resistance might be making things worse rather than better.
Because I had read (and been told) about brain kindling, a psychiatric theory that suggests that repeated untreated depressive episodes worsen a person's condition, I figured that after 25 years of untreated depressions, it only made sense that I could barely survive each successive episode.
Now, it's been 41 years (if one counts the years of medication), and the very thought of it is overwhelming. What I now believe is that everything I was ever told and most of what I've read was wrong (for me), and there was undoubtedly a better way to have dealt with all this.
So, hours ago when I started looking at the books in my home library that might inspire me to continue writing about finding life's meaning, instead I found one that enabled me to feel good about not writing about it.
What I picked up was Pema Chodron's book, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times. While it had been recommended me to me years ago, I remember reading it, and either "not getting it," or not liking what I got.
But...suddenly much of what she says makes sense to me. While I'd like to promise that tomorrow I will explain Chodron's premise, I think it's an unrealistic expectation. I'm not feeling well enough to finish the book and try to distill it in a day.
All I can promise is this: Sometime in the future I'll write again about finding life's meaning. Sometime in the future, I'll figure out if the type of meditation Chodron practices will help me. But, tomorrow, I need to stop staying indoors and reading, and go outside and smell the flowers!
Having said that, I must admit that months ago I received a Flower Smeller's Award, and didn't even put it on my blog. How meaningful is that?