Kind of Blue
I can do all the things adult humans can and should do, for the most part. On top of that, I can smile, laugh, and make a joke or two. I’m usually pretty lighthearted. And yet, I am almost always kind of blue.
I wish my blues were like one of the tunes Miles Davis played on his album, Kind of Blue. His music is beautiful. The song All Blue feels my aches. Each track on the album has a beginning, a middle, and an end. While my blues are endless. Sometimes they fade, other times they become a deep vivid shade of indigo. But mostly I’m just kind of blue.
I know there are people who don’t feel like I do. But it feels like everyone I know has or has had some level of depression. Some medicate with alcohol or work and are able to stay in denial about their experience. Functional depression is still depression.
There have been times in my life when I was happy or happ-ish all the time, and I lived virtually depression-free. I had a reprieve. It went into remission. I can only vaguely recall those times now. It’s been a while. It seems to me that if I wasn’t feeling an organic depression, I was feeling the situational type. But I have known many moments of joy and happiness in my life; enough to feel truly blessed.
Nonetheless, I live within a blue cloud. Its mistiness dampens my spirit. Every day I work to defy it. I work to keep these feelings as light as possible.
I’ve only been knocked down by depression a few times in my life. It came at turning points. Depression signaled I needed to make a change in my life. It told me to walk away from my marriage. It told me to walk away from my career. It told me staying will kill you. I listened. I broke free. Things got better.
Having depression is like walking a tightrope. You can keep moving forward with your life as long as you don’t look down, or back, or up. Keep looking straight ahead. The least bit of doubt and you’ll stumble and fall.
When it comes to depression, there are a million metaphors and adjectives to describe it, but winning isn’t one of them. There is no conquering depression. It’s always there even when it fades into the background. It’s a day by day, moment by moment dance for most of us.
Every day I have to decide to say to my depression, I see you but, as Miles Davis asked, in Kind of Blue — So what?
My internal dialogue sounds like this:
- I’m depressed. So what? Sit down at your desk and write.
- I don’t want to see anyone today. So what? Go for a walk with the dog, at least let her meet up with the other dogs in the neighborhood.
- I don’t want to cook. So what? Do it anyway. Bring your Chromebook, watch a movie. For fuck’s sake, just do it.
- I don’t want to get up at 5 a.m., So what? You know it makes you feel better all day. It’s not an option.
I say “so what” over and over to my depression, my self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors.
Living with depression means having discipline. It means having strategies for my body and mind.
These are the few things I have to do to be a pale kind of blue:
- Maintain a healthy diet. For me, it’s a 100% plant-based diet.
- Take vitamins. I can’t get enough iron, B-12, or Zinc as a vegetarian.
- Keep my home clean. Every single day. When I let things slide, I slide.
- No alcohol. Other than the very occasional glass of wine.
- Meditation. Even if it’s only 5 minutes.
- Exercise. Even if it’s only 5 minutes a few times during my day.
- Writing. A day without writing is never a good day.
- Reading. Rarely something self-helpy, I need beautiful writing.
It’s easy to take depression for granted. Blue is a beautiful color it’s easy to get lost in its many shades. Self-destructive behaviors and self-isolation help draw you in deeper. And depression lies all the damn time.
Don’t listen to it. Listen to Miles or listen to one of the blues masters like B.B. King. When you think no one loves you, but your mother, let your feelings go with the music. Remind yourself; it’s not true.
Music can be very healing. So can nature. In my experience, anything beautiful that feeds our souls can help ease the pain of depression.
I used to think I was too strong to be a “depressed person.” I was in denial about it for a long time. It’s not about strength or weakness.
I know there’s a chemical component, but I also believe those of us with depression have a great need to feed and nurture our souls. If we’re not doing that, we become kind of blue or several shades darker.
Whether you take a medication or meditation for your depression, look after your soul. It’s where you live. Give it everything beautiful you can think of — movies, music, nature, art, books, cooking, create anything, even space.
Depression reminds us to take care of ourselves and our lives.
I’m not sure I like the depression is a gift or a life coach spin. But depression does call on us to be kind to ourselves and why shouldn’t we be? We are as worthy of our own love as is anyone else. We can be kind of other colors besides just blue.
© 2018, A. Breslin All Rights Reserved