Funk v depression.
If all words are nothing more nor less than symbols open to subjective interpretation, does word choice matter?
I guess for me it does, hence I’ve chosen the word funk in this instance. I’m applying the word funk here because, as a term, it’s less harsh, less extreme than more modern connotations and assumptions I feel now surround the word depression. Not that I’m attempting to minimise the potential harm depression can cause or lead to. Certainly not. But I remember a time when the word, at least in my own mind, didn’t feel so much like a code red. Admittedly, that was a time when the code red options were often not identified until the situation was at a more critical level, or worse still, when it was too late. That does of course, still occur with way too much frequency.
I don’t have to look too far beyond my own doorstep to witness the struggle that others face every day and how it can become more than just a little overwhelming, stealing over one’s life incrementally until there appears to be no way to reach beyond it. There are enough reports online and off making it all too clear where these kinds of struggles can end up. Getting lost in that darkest of nights is not a state I’ve ever come close to, but I can imagine how few steps it might take to find oneself there. I’ve no doubt that for some individuals gripped by such a state of mind, where any and all efforts feel like too much, death can appear to have a most preferable allure to the task of finding a way through the quagmire of other options. Death can be the quiet exclamation that releases all the challenges, whilst life can be a procession of question marks with no end in sight.
Now, I’m writing this without any statistics to hand, so yes, I’m writing with a large degree of ignorance on the matter. I don’t know, for instance, whether depression is on the increase (though I assume it is) in real terms, whether the severity of depression is on the increase, or whether there is an over-diagnosis of it as a health issue. But I’m not here to disseminate statistical data, or critique the implications, accuracy or otherwise of such data. That’s not why I’m writing this.
My reason is a smidgen more self-focused than that. It’s no more, and no less, than me mapping out some of my journey in this life, divulging some of my experiences, and the thoughts that are springing from them.
So, for me, at least up to this point in life, I’ve never reached such a critical level, I’ve never been pulled into the depths of what I would consider to be a code red. Nor an amber for that matter. At least, not that I’ve noticed. Up to this point, my path hasn’t ever veered in that direction. For that I’m certainly grateful.
Life has gone on regardless of any internal struggle. I’ve still been able to bounce through each part of my day that has involved intermingling with others. My general routines have continued as normal. Any variations tend to be outwardly invisible, save for a perhaps more sombre tone when interacting with some people, a level of banter lacking the more standard pep, or, if you were to witness me at home, more prolonged staring at the computer screen without actually ‘doing’ anything, breaths more frequently interspaced with sighs.
There have been more dramatic moments over the years. There have been some very melodramatic moments as well. You know, those kind of moments akin to when your first crush dumps you, or you perhaps have a flood of self-pity at the notion that no one truly understands you. Totally soul-destroying in the moment. Generally more comic in retrospect.
Standing on the other side of such a moment always presents a better perspective.
I may have in the past week had a moment, yet it was no more and no less than that. A moment. But in the throws of such a moment, how to handle it? When that most conniving little ego – my ego – grabbed a hold, with its own devious mission to throw me off course, to wrest any semblance of control I might momentarily have believed I had over the multifarious aspects of myself, away from me, what could I do?!
Get centred in a sanctuary of inner peacefulness, love and grace?
“Sod that my friend! None of that for you!!”
At least, that’s how it expressed on an experiential level. Instead of any inner peace, there was a wall that I careened all too quickly into, a wall that appeared to curve around in one relentless sweep, like the walls at the bottom of some all too stark and dry well. What was in front was beside and behind. Looking up for the exit, it seemed all too far and out of focus. The switchboard controlling my emotional stability had been unexpectedly nabbed from my grasp, the switches flickering in unpredictable fashion.
Frustration. Anger. Confusion. Loneliness. All were jockeying for a good position, all keen on top spot, but happy enough in their own perverse manner to share the limelight, even if none of those states were externally visible.
Fortunately for me, I recognise there are distractions I have at my disposal which help to redirect my energy toward more positive streams, like movies, reading, my local cafe, the internet and more. In turn, not all my options are distractions. Some are reminders of what can be, redirections that help me realise that, at a deeper level, a more inspired level, none of these outward concerns are as real as the inner peace that comes from a reconnection to Source.
In this particular case I needed to simply be still. Still on the inside. Still on the outside. I needed to allow myself to be a human who was simply being, rather than a human doing, or a human striving to do. I had to put all the persistent thoughts, the to-do lists, the expectations, the criticisms, the hopes and fears aside. I had to relinquish all my beliefs that all this stuff, all this outward life-stuff, actually matters. All of that and more. Put it ALL aside. And simply be.
Now I’m not suggesting that I needed to relinquish any notion that I myself matter. Far from it. At a certain level I matter very much. Just not the ‘I’ that is tied to material things, to worldly things, to egoic things. The ‘I’ that matters is the level of my self that I only find in the stillness, the level of my self that knows what is best for me at a level where the outer me could never really know. Whether you choose to consider that level of self the Higher Self, the Holy Spirit, God, Source, or perhaps Divine Intelligence, I guess that’s up to you.
I don’t consider myself a religious person. The dogma attached to religion and the adherence to so many archaic perspectives borne from the need for structures and guidelines suited to a time long past, or the political manipulations of a time long gone, whilst fascinating, doesn’t sit well for me. That said, there is merit in some of what is written. And I do believe there is more to myself, to us all, than what we can perceive with our physical senses.
When I allow myself to reside in that stillness within, the guidance from that source comes through. Peace comes through. Happiness returns. Grace abides within. The darkness induced by ego recedes. And I am grateful. I can again see my life as a journey. One where I peel away the layers of negativity and confusion, of doubt and fear, of distraction and self-deception. One in which, by seeing passed all my own layers of deception, I can more easily see passed all of yours, and in so doing see the light that shines within.
We may all be shrouded by varying layers of darkness, some of which might lead to a funk, some to deeper depression, or any number of other challenges particular to our human condition, but we all have a purer light at our core. It’s not a light that comes decorated with sparkling distractions, nor strobe effects, nor sirens and trumpets, nor even effusive gaiety. It’s the warm glow of connection, the first rays of light breeching the darkness of a distant horizon on a still day, the feeling of being exactly where we belong.
And once again, for this moment in time at least, and hopefully for many more, I feel like I’m exactly where I belong.