A couple of days ago Facebook popped up a memory of something I posted a year ago about a blog entry I’d made in 2007 – By the seat of my pants. When posting the memory, I explained the circumstances a little more. Here is what I posted:
Shared Facebook Memory
Yeah, those were dark days. Amazingly, I got through them without chemicals or therapy though either or both might have helped. And “achieving numbness with the universe” is still a clever turn of a phrase. Thankfully, I’ve managed to avoid sinking back into that abyss. A conscious effort to avoid being surrounded by assholes helps.
August 23, 2015 · Dayton ·
Past Zen moment from a 6/9/2007 post in my personal blog:
“Yesterday I think I achieved numbness with the universe. It’s kind of like oneness with the universe but different. I’m sure it’s close enough. There’s no enthusiasm but no apathy either. It’s just a state of being, of existence. I may not be exactly where I want to be but wherever I am, that’s OK. I want to do some things but if they don’t get done, I’m OK with it.”
That was near the end of my 25 years of undiagnosed depression although it may have been that I was just surrounded by assholes. Either way, it was a dark time.
Maybe I need to volunteer a little more information that’s not in either the original post or the Facebook posts. The 25 years of “undiagnosed depression” was actually self diagnosed. I may or may not have been suffering from clinical depression but depression seemed the best way to describe how I felt during those years. I still can’t think of a better way to describe it. No one seemed to notice, not even those closest to me. If they noticed a change in my personality or my demeanor, they never said anything. It was like melancholy, solemnity, and a general lack of enthusiasm were normal traits. Maybe the symptoms weren’t obvious to anyone but me.
There were a lot of feelings, reactions to situations, and changes to my thought processes, behavior and overall outlook during those years. I felt overworked, possibly exploited to a degree, and under appreciated. I began to lose confidence in my abilities and lose interest in my work and become more apathetic toward it. More and more I had doubts about the importance and relevance of what I did. Eventually, I began to engage in behavior and activities which could have had dire consequences.
I was called out on that behavior which was the onset of the darkest five years but ultimately moved me to get my shit together. Through research, introspection, and contemplation, I started sorting things out. It was a long, difficult, and painful process. I felt as though I were in Hell, albeit a self-made Hell. Then, one day I had an epiphany and I realized that although I was in this self-made Hell, I had created it and I held the key that opened the gate. I realized that I was holding myself prisoner and that I’d always been able to leave my Hell behind me. With that realization, I opened the gate and walked out of it, leaving the emotional baggage behind. From that point, I was a changed man. I knew that I, alone, was responsible for my happiness and, to carry it further, my own salvation.
I do not attribute any of this to a deity. We create our own Heavens and our own Hells. Sometimes, for better or worse, we draw others into them or we find ourselves drawn into other’s Heavens and Hells. What ultimately matters is how we deal with them and often we must go deep within ourselves to find the answers we seek. As the Buddha said, “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”
See also – Memoir from Hell in which I comment on the epiphany and the idea of self-forgiveness and atonement.