Everything In Between
On December 7, I woke with the deep blues. I won’t call it depression because I have not been diagnosed, and I don’t want to diminish that very real and dark disease by throwing the D-word around. But I have suffered through sadness over the years, for various reasons and for various amounts of time and with various depth. November seems to start the worst time of year. I even got myself one of those light therapy plug-ins for home use. I think it’s working, but I went a few days without it and, well, there it was. The deep blues.
I got up and wrote in my journal... So sad. Hopeless. Resigned. Pathetic. Teary. Hormonal. Wretched. Did I mention pathetic? What have the last 7 years of exhaustion been? A warm up to menopause?? I must remind myself that these feelings are not real. But that wasn’t quite accurate. My feelings were real, are real, will be real - whenever I’m having them. I don’t imagine them, I experience them. But then I woke the very next day and wrote... I’m awake to life. As if someone has flicked on a switch and there’s light spilling in from an adjoining room, and edging closer. I feel excited by the plans I have. I know I don’t have multiple personalities or bipolar disorder. Again, I have not been diagnosed. And trust me, after 7 years of exhaustion and periods of deep blues, I’ve had myself checked out.
Now, I have been diagnosed with hormonal imbalances, and I’m vigilantly at work in restoring balance, and hormones of course impact everything. The day I wrote about my blues, I had the wherewithal to know that it was my lack of physical wellness that was impacting my emotional state. I wrote these words... Pathology -- apathy -- pathetic -- my path? Pathos! Playing with the root connection, I looked up the words and started finding a more interesting context for my feelings. As an actor and a writer, it’s important for me to have a full range of emotions. What could be more useful than having a pathology - “an account of” (logia) “suffering” (pathos)?
My emotional tide was beginning to turn. And then I read a stunning article about philosopher Martha Nussbaum. She wrote, “...[human beings] are the only animals for which neediness is a source of shame, and who take pride in themselves to the extent to which they have gotten clear of vulnerability.” Nussbaum goes on to explain the intelligence of our emotions and the freedom available in acknowledging our own neediness. That cut an even deeper groove into my pathos path.
When I got sick, I had to rely on my husband to take care of me and my friends and family to accommodate me. I went from being the most independent of people to someone fairly dependent. But did this weaken me? It felt like it, at first. But when I surrendered to it, when I stopped pretending it wasn’t happening, and when I allowed the people in my life to contribute to me, I experienced amity. As if I no longer had to fight or hide or resist anything. I don’t believe there are good emotions and bad emotions, ones to allow and ones to suppress. They all have a function or nature wouldn’t furnished us with so many. So here I am. Sitting under my full spectrum light, sometimes happy, sometimes sad, experiencing a full spectrum of emotions.