Imagine that the sun is shining bright, and you are sitting outside in the middle of an open field. In the distance, you see Parents sitting on the porch watching their children running around playing outside. A savory aroma catches your nose, causing you to turn in another direction just enough to locate the smoke from a blazing bbq grill. In that direction, you also hear laughter and the sound of dominoes being slammed down on the table in an intense game on the picnic table. At this moment, you smile because all is well in the world around you.
Then the clouds start to form, and the wind begins to pick up. Nobody begins moving until the first sight of rain begins to fall. They were probably thinking how odd it was, seeing as though none of this was shown on the forecast the night before. I turn around to fold up my chair and pack my belongings. A few minutes later, I was startled by screaming in the distance. I turned around to catch sight of two tornadoes that have formed and were swallowing up everything in their paths, including the father that was sitting on the porch talking with his wife, the picnic table that not to long along was home to an intense game of dominoes, the bbq grill and the grillmaster whose laugh only moments ago rumbled in the air as he looked on at his friends playing on the picnic table.
I stood there in utter terror and disbelief. Stunned at how fast things had turned around. I was far enough in the distance to be out of danger. Yet, the smile that used to line my face had changed. The warm feeling of happiness was now gloomy despair. Here I was being affected by all I was witnessing transpire around me, to people I may or may not have known. I was now a storm in the middle of a storm. Plagued by a bunch of overwhelming feelings all in one moment, I cried and stood in my helplessness.
This current culture we are facing has had me feeling this way more times than I can count. Some say you should focus on calming yourself and waiting for the storm to pass as it always does, but that can be challenging, especially to someone like me who finds themselves to be a human mood ring. I am affected by the things that happen around me, and at times take them on as my own. Most recently, I learned the news of an alumnus that passed away from a motorcycle accident. He left behind a beautiful young family. I thought of the young kids who will not remember his face, the older kids who will not forget his face, and the pain of his absence they both would feel for the rest of their lives. I thought of the mother, who would now have to do it on her own. I thought of how she will be holding it together for them, yet aching from great sorrow inside. When all the condolences are said, will someone still be there for her?
Earlier this same week, I learned of another untimely death from the same way that involved a coworker’s significant other. They had just purchased a place together, planned to be married, and start a family. This news also left me trying to step into her shoes. Would she be able to return to those four walls that use to be home? Was she alone? Did she have support around her? Would she take a leave of absence from her job? Would the job be supportive… because that’s a pain I imagine would never go away? Will she find love again later down the road?
One week, two major losses, and a bunch of other ones in between. I needed a break from the tragic news, but I also needed to see how those affected were doing and so I kept taking in the news not realizing until I was in the midst of a crying meltdown that I was harboring all of this pain inside. After all, if someone is hurting and it comes across my radar the human mood ring that I am, changes its color.
Everything around me now was dark and I couldn’t come out of it. I just wanted to sleep it away to get those vivid images out of my head, but I couldn’t and that realization exhausted me even more. It’s amazing how many emotions we can feel all at once. One thought, one situation, or one moment can produce coexisting feelings of sadness, despair, hopelessness, worry, anger, upset, discouragement, etc. Add in another emotion-provoking thought, and the intensity of feelings are heightened. So imagine what all those different thoughts were doing to my mind/body. It was as if, there was an emotional dial that was turned up so high on the inside. My body was trying to house an overload beneath the surface. Turning it down can take time, which causes bouts or seasons of depression that can be hard to press on through that at times.
I can’t offer you a finite solution. The truth is I haven’t figured out a full-proof method that works every time. This time writing helped me process my thoughts, by being able to put imagery to my feelings. Next time something different might work. All I can tell you is that if you have felt this way a time or two, you are not alone. I hope that we choose to endure another day no matter how hard it gets and find a rainbow in the cloud no matter how faint it might be.
What are some things that have worked for you when facing bouts of depression?
-Simply Janeen ❤