Thursday, 20 December 2012

The big D.

Despite all the good things that have been going on in my life, it’s been challenging times in my little corner of the world recently.

The black dog has paid me a visit, for the first time in about six years. The black dog has been my companion since my teenage years, mostly staying in the background, but occasionally attacking me with sudden, sharp ferocity. I like dogs, so perhaps that’s not a good analogy. It felt like a gradual ascent into a black pit – it began with the realisation of a low-level sadness running through my days and reached its zenith when I found myself on a stormy Sunday afternoon, after a bust-up at home, at the beach contemplating walking into the wild waves and never coming back.

That’s when I began to cry and couldn’t stop. That’s when I realised I needed help.

For those who have never suffered depression, it’s hard to understand. It’s not just feeling sad. My experience of depression is a literal absence of colour: when I look around all I see is grey. I feel completely alone, disconnected from my loved ones. I feel trapped down the black pit and I’m looking up and seeing, at a far distance, light and happiness and life – but I can’t be part of it because I’m down in the darkness. It’s struggling to fall asleep at night and hoping I never wake up in the morning. It’s nasty voices in my head telling me how worthless and useless I am. It’s feeling like nothing good will ever happen to me again.

Yet most people wouldn’t have a clue that anything is wrong with me because I’m really skilled at hiding it when I feel I need to. Perhaps that’s not such a good thing…

I think I’m coming out the other side now, hopefully. I still have bad days but the possibility of feeling joy again seems real. John has cared for me tenderly and I’ve had several sessions with a counsellor I trust. Depression always has something to teach me, so I’ve been looking for the lesson. I know I need to make some changes in how I live my daily life and I’m trying to work through that.

Throughout these dark weeks, hooping has been one of the few things to make me feel like a “normal” person. I’ve continued to hoop, even on the days I felt like I was barely capable of lifting my hoop. I’ve even continued to teach, although now most of my teaching has finished for the year. Even the big D couldn’t destroy the joy hooping - and teaching hoopdance - brings me, although my joy is a muted one, as if felt at a distance. Because I haven’t had much energy I haven’t been at my usual spot in the gym; mostly I’ve hooped for short periods of time in the garden, in the sunshine - sunshine is definitely good for my state of mind!

I have had some wonderful hooping experiences recently, including hooping on the beach with some of my students, hooping with my youngest nieces, and taking part in a celebration for World Hoop Day. All of which have helped, in their own way, to nudge me back towards the light.