No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar, but on the lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your whole body is full of darkness. Therefore consider whether the light in you is not darkness. If then your whole body if full of light, with no part in darkness, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its rays.
Yesterday I attended a memorial for a family member who chose to leave us early. Her death hit me hard as it brought up a lot of old stories that I used to tell myself when I was in the dark times of depression. The feeling of wanting to escape, run away, and that somehow it would be better for everyone if I just ceased to be. In those times that I have experienced off and on for 15 years, there's no light within me. Instead, I am immersed deeply into the darkest part of the ocean, where the sun is unable to penetrate the density of the water. When I learned about her death, a floodgate of empathy poured out of me. Unfortunately, this is not the first time someone I have known has drowned in those waters.
I speak openly about my experiences with this darkness because on the surface, I appeared to be functioning in a "normal" capacity. Even the bits of acting a bit more removed or sad were considered acceptable by our culture, but underneath a storm was raging.
This storm disconnected and isolated me to the point where I literally could not feel love--even the love inherent in our beautiful earth. I think that's what I want people to hear most. The person suffering is using all of their resources to withstand the turmoil of sadness and loneliness that escape and running away becomes the only known peace. I speak from my own experiences swimming in that water, and withstanding the wind and hail.
These periods of time when I was immersed in this hell were times in which I was seeking help, crying out for it, and still felt completely alone. I took antidepressants for a number of years and when I stopped taking them in my early 20s, I noticed my emotional state felt more vulnerable. I cried a lot more at the cheesy movies or holiday commercials intended to invoke emotional participation. I accepted this because hey, I would rather cry at a commercial than be in the darkness 24/7. For years I felt ups and downs again, not a placid numbing like I did while on medication and certainly not the storm. However, after my bicycle accident in 2013 I was comforted by that insidious acquaintance.
Women between the ages of 25-30, with a history of depression, will often have their depression come back fast and worse after they sustain a concussion. Three months after my accident, the familiar sadness screamed at me again. It wasn't subtle and felt like it literally happened over night. All of a sudden I was being comforted by the thoughts of no longer being around. Fortunately, I had a wonderfully empathetic doctor who trusted me when I told him that I think I need to go on a low dose of the same medicine that worked ten years prior.
I took that medication as well as prescription strength migraine meds for what was diagnosed as Post Concussion Syndrome (P.C.S). I had started to already dive into new spiritual beliefs a year prior to my accident and I found a lot of comfort in an online Facebook community. After suffering a mild traumatic brain injury, I felt so out of sync with almost everyone around me. I would lose concentration, experience fogginess, forget what I was saying in the middle of a sentence, and I was completely, entirely ruled by my emotions. Mood swings and an inability to filter how I was feeling, left me feeling like a wacko and drained me entirely. I couldn't leave my house after 7pm unless I had ample time to sit quietly and prepare myself for the energy expense.
I stopped taking my meds after 6 months as the other symptoms started waning. I had adopted a daily, often twice daily, hour long meditation practice which gave me the clarity I couldn't find any where else. It gave me the stillness to process whatever feeling was "up" and to breathe through it, trusting that I could indeed handle it. I got even more into my spirituality and avidly started to collect crystals.
For me, crystals are powerful instruments of understanding and perception, as well as healing.
Despite the toxic professional environment I was in in which my PCS was questioned due to ignorant misunderstanding, I felt comforted by the fact that, in my situation, the only thing doctor's could recommend for me was to take it minute-by-minute.
I was forced to slow way down and empathize with myself.
Crystals fostered a healthy perspective when I was ruled by my emotional state and offered new, concrete perspectives. This way of understanding and action were certainly what I wasn't doing prior to my accident.
Because of this, I consider the healing time from my MTBI a blessing. It also helped me understand my depression when the storm has suddenly reappeared like something out of Jumanji.
"I think it helps us to reveal what light there is in happiness and joy."
Meditation and crystals have offered me stability when in the midst of transformation. I had to heal my brain, however long it would take, and I had to grow through some painful lessons. In my continued years of practice studying, learning, and researching spiritual beliefs from around the globe, not in the form of religion (BIG DIFFERENCE), I have learned so much about myself and what these periods of darkness teaches us. I have been reflecting a lot on the spiritual metaphors of darkness and lightness which are everywhere! Hello, Star Wars rewatch marathon before the new one comes out!! What stands out to me much when I think about the value of depression, because I do believe there is value to everything we experience, I think it helps us to reveal what light there is in happiness and joy. Both the weight of that emotion and the physical feeling it has in your body.
I know the storm is all consuming, or that you get too tired to tread water anymore, and there is help and I highly recommend talking to a professional for both you and a loved one if that hell is present. I also know what is important is to feel the feelings and not cast them out because others think you're too emotional, dramatic, or weird.
We can't save someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis that is more prevalent than we care to talk about, but we can know that they have found peace, whether or not we agree with it.
When I sat in the pew yesterday at Emmanuel Lutheran in Tacoma, I decided to flip open a Bible probably for the first time since college. While I have been reading about the life of Jesus, Mary, Mohammed, Buddha and other religious figures, gods and goddesses, I have been reading about them in a more historical perspective. I flipped right open to the Gospel of Luke and this passage stood out at me, an obvious synchronicity (an experience that fills me with joy):
"No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar, but on the lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your whole body is full of darkness. Therefore consider whether the light in you is not darkness. If then your whole body if full of light, with no part in darkness, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its rays."
How much of our bodies are holding onto darkness because that's what we are choosing to see? This passage was a Divinely timed sign to help shed more empathy and understanding for me about the journey of our loved family member, myself, and others I have known who have walked with this darkness. I think it's important to understand that there are varying degrees of this emotion. Sometimes it's a shadow or whisper, and other times the feeling is a tsunami. What gives me solace now is to know that there are resources and tools to help evaluate these feelings, and that its healthier to take the time to sit with them and learn from them. Brain injury or not, I think we could all use a little more time and value placed on taking the time to experience our emotions.
There's nothing inherently "wrong" or "bad" with emotions, what is bad is when we neglect them for too long and it becomes too late.
If we are caring for and seeing light in ourselves and the world, we get an opportunity to be the lamp for someone. We can cast light into the shadows for someone and help illuminate the parts that they may be neglecting, ignoring, or stewing in. I know it is my preference to empathetically to notice the darkness and understand its lesson. It allows me to feel as though what I have grown through allows me to know the value of the lightness I can share with my story through empathy and sparkle.
What I was Rocking during this time: Labradorite, Ocean Jasper, Morganite and Moonstone