I want to start this post with an excerpt that was shared with me by a dear friend and relative who has so often been there for me through both the highest points and the lowest points of my life so far (Thank you Auntie Leanne). This excerpt was one of the many inspirations behind the words that you will read in this rather soul baring record of life as I see it at this moment in time -
"There's two places where the spirit resides: the mountain top, where we are inspired, exhilarated, transformed, free and fulfilled. And down in the marketplace, where most of our human interactions and challenges are and where the gravity/weight is so strong, it can keep us down - jostling, mingling, struggling at that level and, if living like this long enough, we are absorbed by the marketplace and its incessant worries and cares and can forget the mountain top altogether, even question its existence, let alone transformative power."
Ironically only three months ago my spirit was on the mountain top, not so much in the literal sense - although I was as close to the Himalayas as I had ever been, but also in the metaphorical sense. I was high, both spiritually and physically.
You may recall my recollection of such events about three months ago in a raw and expressive post where I came out about finding happiness and purpose and finding my place in the world, as if it were my final destination. How easily we can become so caught in the moment, and for that moment I was completely free, and it was wonderful and invigorating and … fleeting …
What I have come to realise about life is that every moment is fleeting. One minute we find our spirits up on the mountain top and the next we’re in the bustling marketplace, swimming through emotions trying to keep our heads above water.
In late June I descended into a wintery Sydney marketplace. A concoction of personal hardship, emotional contradiction, self judgement, loss and isolation threw me into a place of darkness so instantaneously that I lost complete sight of the mountain top and started to question whether in fact I was ever there at all. ‘Who was that girl?’ I would think to myself, ‘Where did she go?’
It’s taken three months of darkness for me to be ready to open up about this experience. Being a human who has experienced reactive depression periodically for the past 8 years it’s often tough to publicly come out about it, especially because it’s such a silent condition that’s often misconstrued. Also the fact that most people I know wouldn't pick me to be the type of person who could even possibly be 'depressed'. It’s not something that defines who I am though, and not something that should define any of us. We are not our emotions or our thoughts, we are imperfect souls going through this beautiful life together. We are miracles.
This miracle however, had spent much of the past three months trying my hardest to get up every day, put on a brave face and be the functioning human the world needs me to be. It’s amazing how much we can hide beneath the surface of our skins and smiles. I can actually acknowledge that I cried every day for over 30 consecutive days - something my friend joked could be listed as one of my professional achievements! I became reclusive, took myself on an impromptu trip to Cambodia as a dramatic attempt to ‘heal myself’ and had wayyyy too many weeknight drinks.
It wasn’t until only recently that I started delving into knowledge and wisdom that I started to find my way back. I sourced help through books, apps and podcasts from some of the world’s greatest mental health experts - influencers, psychologists and all-round amazing people who have found their own solace in helping others. What shocked me the most is that many of these great influencers had dealt with their own struggles with mental health, and they all seem to acknowledge what I believe is this worlds greatest misconception - that our suffering is unique. We are all human and we all suffer the same feelings of sadness, isolation, loneliness, grief, perfectionism, addiction - all of these things are human conditions that are not unique. Even I had moments where I truly felt alone with my emotions, ashamed of feelings that are so obviously part of this human experience we all share.
The question that comes from this is how do we work together to help one another out of their own darkness and into the universal peace and light that is so powerful and possible for us all?
The experts say meditation, self compassion and mindfulness are the paths to peace, and I sincerely believe this to be true. However, our own paths to meditation, self compassion, mindfulness and ultimately peace can vary, just as our lives vary. Yet one thing remains the same - we are all in this human experience together, and that’s one of the biggest takes of all.
My intention is not for this post to be about me, nor do I want this post to be about depression. I want this post to be an acknowledgement that whether you are on the mountain top or in the marketplace you can still feel the same sun. There can be light and love through both times of triumph and through times of suffering. Take on board what you may but in the end be kind to yourself, seek knowledge, wisdom and mindfulness and try to find peace in your hearts. We are all in this journey together.
I’ll end with a quote by a woman who has truly changed my life, the inspiring author, psychologist and teacher of meditation, emotional healing and spiritual awakening Tara Brach. You can find her podcast on iTunes.
“The great gift of a spiritual path is coming to trust that you can find a way to true refuge. You realize that you can start right where you are, in the midst of your life, and find peace in any circumstance. Even at those moments when the ground shakes terribly beneath you—when there’s a loss that will alter your life forever—you can still trust that you will find your way home. This is possible because you’ve touched the timeless love and awareness that are intrinsic to who you are”