Today I was part of the third and final video conference for the Shine Expansive online creativity and life purpose workshop I have been participating in for the month of October. I was great out of the starting gate in this course – right up to writing the “Come Speak To Me Of Love” poem on Day 7 – then I promptly fell apart in my participation in the workshop. I was depressed – I fell apart everywhere. I even went 10 days without going to Tae Kwon Do. And I haven’t been writing here (that’s been going on longer and there’s got to be more to it).
So I arrived at our conference today feeling behind the eight ball. (I had quickly scanned two weeks’ worth of Shine materials in advance of performing my improv poem – Wednesday’s post here – then done nothing since.) I saw Jessica, our instructor, at church on Sunday and confessed what she already suspected from my lack of participation on the online forum that is one element of the Shine. She said the last three days of the workshop would be the big finish and that she was encouraging everybody, regardless of how far “behind” they were, to go through the last three days together. I was feeling like so much of a loser in regard to the workshop that I wasn’t ready to commit, but did tuck away her invitation for considering.
On Wednesday, I scanned the assignment for the day, then did get on the conference. And pretty quickly, the depression that has been dogging me for ten days went to work on me. I was convinced that, having participated so poorly in the course, I had no business asking for attention on this call – so I stayed on the sidelines for the first 2/3 of the time. And, reviewing my life from the sidelines, I got to see how this depressive “You don’t belong here” voice torments me in many areas of my life when I’m depressed: at church, on the dance floor (very much a communal activity in the Asheville Movement Collective), in my household, in my depression and bipolar support group (of all the crazy places to not feel like I belong).
Seeing how tormented I tend to be when I’m depressed, I pushed back my reluctance and the next time the floor was open for someone to solicit Jessica’s consultation I raised my hand. And we did some terrific work together:
- With her support, I backed off some from the vision I announced in my “Come Talk To Me Of Love” poem, where I would no longer let depression drive my car. There is so much history around this and the pull of my biochemistry is so strong that sometimes depression is going to take over.
- What I can do, however, is to monitor very closely its behavior, and when it gets too destructive – torments me too painfully – bump it back in the passenger seat. Some of the ways I can do this are
- to write a blog post – or, if that’s too much of a stretch, at least organize my notes for a post (from the liittle spiral pad where I enter these notes at work) or at the very least review some of these notes
- to practice my Tae Kwon Do – or if that’s too much of a stretch read or watch some videos on our center’s Facebook page.
- When depression is having its way with me at work, I can
- pull out my little pad and start capturing notes from my encounters at the cash register – there is pretty much always something there.
- I can find things to appreciate about my customers and co-workers. This comes easily and naturally when I am up, but is difficult when I am down – when I am more likely to find fault with everyone around me. Or I will judge them as lots better than me – more attractive, more successful, etc. In this case, I can reach for ways we are alike – maybe just our common humanity, that we both have our struggles, heartaches, etc.
Today I have already had some success in this regard. When depression started to take over the driver’s seat:
- I cued up the website with my Tae Kwon Do videos and practiced my current form. When trying to learn from the video got too frustrating, I settled for learning one new move and then shifted to watching a video from the Facebook page – an interview with one of the other students whom I like quite a lot. This made me feel good.
- I’ve been writing this blog post, harvesting my notes from the conference call yesterday.
As with any positive new habit, success with these tactics will probably come and go. I will probably need to develop some cues to remind me to do them. When you see me – or with an email (my address is at the bottom of the right column) – feel free, actually encouraged, to ask me how it’s going.