Enjoy the silence. Of course, what immediately floods my brain with the title of this blog is Depeche Mode’s amazingly soulful song from the 90s titled “Enjoy the Silence”. While I will not pretend to understand the music video, or even the group’s intention when writing the song, the song does have several meanings to me. The obvious one is that it’s a love song. However, for this past month and a half, this song -or a few lyrics from this song – have been my mantra and it’s had nothing to do with a romance and everything to do with depression. If I’m being honest, I sort of fell into a trance this past month.
Think back to all those action movies you’ve watched where the villain was weather or the science classes that you took back in grade school and you had to know every detail about what causes a storm. Now, imagine a tornado or a huge storm and you’re standing in the middle of it but are unaffected. They say that the eye of a storm is the calmest, right? Well, I think that’s what happened. I was in the eye of the storm that is my life. Well, my life at that moment. I just stood there. Not me, the physical me that people see. The me that no one sees. That “me” needed to find the eye of the storm, crawl into it and enjoy the silence.
Where the warm rising air highlighted in pink in the cross-section above are my family and other things that bring me joy in life and raise me up (like hard work and accomplishments), the cold falling air shown above in blue really are my negative thoughts, the stress and worries that I carry. That cirrus shield? Well, that’s my determination and hope that tomorrow will be a better day. It rises above it all but still brings an overcast and ultimately a barrier.
For whatever reason, a month ago, too many negative thoughts and feelings came over me. Maybe it was the last blog I wrote bringing up too many emotions. I don’t know. But I know, I needed to escape the overwhelmingly heavy feeling. I felt like my thoughts were storming around with emotions and just mixing everything up. My inner self had no foundation. So naturally, I retreated. I couldn’t move forward. I couldn’t blog. I couldn’t truly be in the moment of anything.
“Words like violence, break the silence. Come crashing in, into my little world….Words are very unnecessary, they can only do harm….Enjoy the silence…”
And they did, the words of concern broke the silence and they angered me. I couldn’t bear to explain why I felt off. It used too much energy. I had to protect the little bit of silence I had so I could regain my footing.
Now, what’s the difference between this past month of depression versus my past bouts with depression? I didn’t walk away from those who cared and I didn’t stop making plans. I totally understand the need, that actual physical and mental need, to be alone so you can have the opportunity to wait out the storm, to sort through the tossed salad of thoughts and emotions. But, even though your mind is alone and quiet, make sure that you are not actually alone. Go to auto-pilot in your life for that moment but don’t just sit back and go for the ride. That is your time to actually stop concentrating on that one aspect so you can rest but also so you can focus on something else. If you think you don’t have anyone to turn to for help, well you’d be surprised. It’s amazing who will show up for you when you just ask for help. Perfect strangers will rally for you if you give them the chance. So if there is no one in your life or in your family who you can turn to, join an online network and put yourself out there. All those self-help shows, videos, quotes, books, etc. that you used to scoff at, those will be your new family and support.
How do I know this will work? Because my first bout of full-on depression lasted over two years. I went through the motions but never made plans on how to change anything. I was in high school and had no control over my life – at least I didn’t think I did. So I let the hormones and the drama that is always associated with high school take me down. I didn’t study. I just showed up. And it took over two long years of me sleeping through the weekends to avoid anything and everything to finally be free. Sort of. I was still depressed after high school but new friends and new surroundings helped. So the next time I fell into a depression, it only lasted a few scary months versus years. Why? I made plans.
“All I ever wanted, all I ever needed, is here in my arms…”
I will not lie to you. I can easily get depressed on any given day. In fact, I always feel it right behind me. So it’s not like after the two plus years or this past month that I’ve all of a sudden snapped out if it, feeling happy and joyful 100% of the time. That’s not real. The temperatures of the storm have just evened out. It’s like a really hot day but all of a sudden you feel a very cool breeze. When it passes, it doesn’t ruin the day. It’s an afterthought that does not require any attention. If, for whatever reason, it gets too cool for me, I put on a sweater. I don’t just sit out on a cold day without layers.
So the plans and new focus, reaching out to those who care for you, making friends to build a foundation, these are your “layers” to prepare you for the changing weather. And don’t forget about the music you’ll need for your mood. When you can’t speak, listen. You might find a mantra….
“Enjoy the Silence.”