I have written before, I think, that I deal with depression and anxiety. I don’t ‘battle’ them and I don’t ‘suffer’ from them – although I certainly used to. Some years ago, however, I came to realise that they were part of me, and not some affliction to be permanently cured or a demon to be cast out. Just like a diabetic, or an alcoholic, or someone with specific allergies, there are things I will always need to do to manage my life and make sure I remain in control of the situation, and not the other way around. I take some mild medication, and insist on it remaining mild; my doctor once offered me increased dosage but I declined, for a couple of reasons. One, after half a lifetime of fast food and tobacco, I try to limit the number of manufactured substances I put into my body; and two, because I think the low dose takes just enough of the edge off the depression & anxiety to allow me to make conscious and positive decisions to keep them under control. I don’t want to surrender to low spirits, but neither do I want to yield my responsibility for actively improving my own life.
Apart from the pills, I make a determined effort to stay out of a rut, by trying new experiences and activities every chance I get – new music, different genres of movies & books, visiting places I know nothing about. I guess you could sum it up as making the journey important and letting the destination take care of itself. I eat better – fresh fruit & veg, often raw; a minimum of processed foods; no McDonalds or KFC or other industrial fast food. I exercise, but not nearly as much as I should, although every lifestyle change I make helps with that – I went from driving everywhere to catching buses to walking to work and now that I live on a farm, my aim is to do a minimum of two hours actual physical work every day. I try and do creative and stimulating things as well – from making jam to writing this blog, for instance.
Underpinning it all is a positive choice to have a positive attitude. It sounds redundant and simplistic – “Well yeah the way to not be sad is to be happy” – but it’s far from that. It’s constantly reminding myself that no, this isn’t the end of the world, it’s just a minor setback. It’s putting the mental brakes on before saying something that lowers the mood in a conversation, leading to anger or disappointment or other negative vibes, and choosing to say something constructive instead. It’s always bearing in mind that the big picture is only as big as I let it be, and always remembering that I have been into the pit and managed to get out once, and that’s a pretty damn fine achievement, and I can do it again if I have to.

September 29th, 2002

Why have I let the Darkness assail me so?
Beyond a doubt, it’s always there –
The fear, the anxiety, the pain and inadequacy,
And all the other poisons of the soul;
Beyond a doubt, they will accompany me
All throughout life’s journey.
But I need not let them lead me – no, not at all.
Instead, let them be begrudged companions,
Who insist on staying with me.

Very well then –
Ride behind me, if ride you must!
Keep yourselves in my shadow, or begone!

Today, I stood under the quiet rain of spring.
Tonight, I made sweet and gentle love with
Creation’s most glorious wonder.
THAT is life!
Beyond a doubt, my companions had not left me,
Yet there could have hardly been a more perfect day.
And I become aware, even as I write,
That this very epiphany is but a step.
Miracles of comprehension dawn within the eye of my mind,
Unfolding like crystal flowers in a ritual dance,
But I cannot grasp their bright and perfect symmetry,
And so they evanesce, but regret does not follow.
Rather, I taste a promise of joy to come –
That unique joy born of acceptance and contentment.

Let the journey continue.

© Darryn Roberts 2002