There is a hard, dark, very murky lump that aches a bit in the middle of my chest. It is gray, but not the warm, gray of tree trunks or chickadees. It is a foreboding and sinister gray, one that has the capacity to sap my life energy and spiral me down into the pits of despair. This is a warning—a warning that if I don’t notice it, and slowly excise it, it will grow until it encompasses all of my being, sending me for weeks, maybe months into the depths of discouragement and despair—a condition that has no redeeming features and leaves me feeling empty and alone.
Through years of recurring severe depressions, I have come to know what that lump means. I know I have to hurry to get rid of it, before it claims any more of my being—before the energy it takes to erase it is gone.
I begin working, a little bit at a time. It grows smaller as I connect with my daughter and other close friends for some ranting and raving time; time when they listen as I vent my feelings and frustrations at being a passenger on this planet. And when I finish and collapse into slumber or go for a walk, it gets even smaller.
I greet the day, still dark outside, with my close friend of four years, my light box. Reading the paper—skipping the bad parts—in this warm glow continues to lift my spirits. Through the day, I take time-outs to relax, breathe deeply and listen to some good music. A time when I let the past and the future drift away and exist in the present. Being really good to myself, I relax in a tub of warm water filled with the scent of sweet birch or lavender or rose.
I save a few minutes to work on that quilt that I have neglected for so long, feasting my eyes on the bright colors and the design, changing as I stitch. None of the cares of the world exist as I work away at the quilt while the lump in my chest grows smaller still.
That book I have been meaning to read. A couple of hours with it and a cup of herb tea curled up in my soft recliner, and the lump continues to decrease in size and intensity.