What does depression feel like? I am learning about mindfulness and meditation, and I found an exercise that asks this question. I decided to try it. I slowed down, focused on my breath, and pictured myself in a vast room, all alone, with a lit candle at the center.
I ask into the room, “What does my depression feel like? What is it? What are you?”
In answer, I feel a presence come into the room from all sides, slowly, quietly crawling up walls that I hadn’t even known were there. It is like a film clinging to these walls, everywhere but nowhere. It is dark grey and gritty, slowly turning this room into something that feels like a dungeon. I reach out to touch one of the walls, but I pull back immediately. It feels wrong; my fingers are too sensitive to its touch. I am reminded of a problem I have in real life…an aversion to terracotta. I am repulsed by touching anything like terracotta. I hate touching flowerpots. I have a hard time holding chalk. It sends a shiver through my whole body. I have this strange fear that it will creeping under my fingernails. The feel of the walls in this dungeon image is similar. A creeping, cringing feeling. I pull my hand away. I sit back down and remind myself of the candle in the center. It is still there. I feel alone here, but on one level I know I am not. This candle represents my relationship with God, my relationship with other people, my relationship with my true self. My depression is a film that covers everything, but it is not me. I look up, and see that the walls are dark, far away…the candle’s light doesn’t quite reach them. I instinctively know that this is because the walls are not real. The film of depression makes its own wall…it’s a chimera: beyond it is not an impenetrable barrier, but rather an open field. A field filled with light, the same light that shines from this unquenchable candle. One day soon, I will see that field. One day soon, I will get up the nerve to poke through the flypaper mirage. One day soon, I will see that this dungeon isn’t real. But not today. Today I sit here in melancholy contentment. It’s okay. I’ve got my candle.
One thought on “The Texture of Depression”
You are not alone. The one candle is God’s love. If there was a candle for all of us who love you and are praying for you the light would blind you.
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