Learning to fallPsychotherapy January 6, 2013 - 11:59 am No Comment
I had a rather unexpected depressive episode during my annual leave. I am certainly no acolyte when it comes to the freemasonry of melancholy, but this depressive storm came from previously unchartered psychic space. When the first flickers appeared on the distant horizon, I groaned internally, much like a grizzled sea captain who tastes ozone in the air prior to bad weather. I have navigated deep water many times and was confident in my abilities to remain; at the very least; afloat, but these straits felt different, unknown. In the past, my depressive spaces have been filled with crushing inertia, or a grey gravity which could suck me through a keyhole, but this was saturated with something far more existential…my own mortality.
During mid-December I was in the mountains alone. I had been hiking for a couple of hours and was getting ready to climb up a pretty sheer rock face, I was a bit weary and my mind was wandering ahead of me. My concentration slipped two thirds of the way up and my body followed. What exactly happened on the way down is unclear besides the fact that I was flooded with the most intense fear I have ever felt, followed by something deep inside of me preparing to die. What is also extremely clear is that I used one of my few remaining lives…I may actually be in overdraft. My physical injuries were minor but the ego sustained ugly lacerations and multiple mustard coloured bruises.
After the fall, I limped home and thought nothing more of it once I immersed myself into the quasi-chaotic life of my household. But, in the spaces between the shouting kids, the blazing heat and the barking dogs, something took hold of my hope and began to squeeze it, hard. I began to look at myself in the mirror more often, noticing a slackening jowl here, a few more grey hairs there. My mood stuttered, I growled at my perplexed loved ones. I measured the distance between 25, strapping, agile…and the wilted spinach of middle age. I began to slip like I had on the rock-face. The chasm yawned languidly with razor sharp teeth, but just before I tumbled spectacularly downwards headfirst , I caught a look of abject terror in my wife’s eyes. I recognized that fear, it belongs to us both, when that look arrives, I know that I’m not in Kansas anymore…
So, I caught myself, it took a couple of days, to come to terms with my feeling of being fundamentally diminished in some way, to grieve for my youth and to pull my shit together. Mid-life may not be for the faint hearted but I’ve never seen myself as someone who gives up either. So those depressive, self indulgent spirals of my younger years are now being carefully labeled and consigned to storage next to the other skins I have shed along the way.
I have found that a good fall accelerates growth.
Warmth and blessings for the New Year.