I just finished writing my morning pages. As I was writing I began to think about my word for the year 2020 which is ”JOY”. Such a tiny word with great meaning. I got to thinking what is Joy? So I asked Siri, “is the plural form of joy “joys”? Her answer: “The noun ‘joy’ can be countable or uncountable. In more general, commonly used contexts, the plural form will also be joy. However, in more specific contexts, the plural form can also be “joys” e.g. in reference to various types of joys or a collection of joys. Then I asked her, “Siri, define joy.” Her reply, “As a noun it means a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.”
Oh, Siri – you had me at collection…
So there I have it. I began thinking about curating a collection of my own personal joys. Something I could keep and add to. Something I could look at in the absence of joy, because when joy is absent depression is lurking nearby. I’m not fond of depression. That may seem like an obviously ridiculous statement but I think sometimes I have kept depression around like a puppy sitting in my lap I would pet it and feed it and nourish it. Why would I do that? I’m not sure, but I did. I kept depression around allowing myself the indulgence of its bad company. Sounds foolish when I imagine it that way. I’m sure no one else in the world understands that foolishness- that makes me weird I guess. Certainly not normal. “Hello darkness my old friend…”
In my experience Joy extinguishes depression – in my world joy is depression’s kryptonite. I want to destroy depression- annihilate it. But depression is an ugly monster who threatens to intentionally interrupt my time spent with joy. Depression is not polite. It does not make an appointment on my calendar or allow me to pencil it into my planner. Nope. Depression hounds me constantly and I battle it often. It is true though that in my experience Joy is depression’s kryptonite.
So what brings me great pleasure and happiness? What ushers in Joy?Words (to be more specific the words I read in the Book of Psalms from the Bible), pens (specifically pretty fountain pens with gold tips and beautiful, vibrant inks), writing, reading books and communication (specifically kind words of communication with God and the people I love) in general those things tend to bring me joy. I decided to begin writing a collection of my joys a book of joy or a list of things that bring me joy. Words bring me joy. Simply curating this list alone will be a joyful experience for me. I’m such a nerd, the thought of having another thing to make a list of makes me feel giddy – I just found another thing that brings me joy!
If joy is found everywhere, in even the smallest and seemingly insignificant things, why then do I even find myself battling depression – like ever? Is depression a chemical imbalance in my brain as I’ve read it can be for some people? I’ve been to a doctor, a therapist, a counselor- I’ve tried self medicating- But the fear of losing my mind to the addiction eventually led me away from drugs and booze and bottles of wine that promised me peace but basically knocked me out for the night. I’ve been professionally prescribed anti-depression meds. – that numbed my feels and gave me other side effects- like being completely numb. One prescription drug even caused me to have nightmares and sleep paralysis- no thanks – that was more than a little bit frightening. Those experiences did however make me realize that I do have choices to make. I don’t have to suffer in silence. The bravest thing I can do to annihilate depression and anxiety is to confront it. To talk about it. To recognize the truth that I don’t have to settle for a life in submission to the negativity of depression and anxiety or addiction or suffering. Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. It really is. Stop right here and think on that for a while.
For me the only thing that annihilated depression for even a moment was Joy! Joy is my super hero! Maybe depression is brought on by my hormones? Hmm, I wonder if hormones and my body’s chemical balance is the same thing? LOL who knows? I’m not a doctor practicing medicine, but I have practiced living in my own body for 52 years now, I know myself better than my doctors do. I did not find relief from depression through medication- personally I found myself foggy and that was not a joyful experience either.
All I know is that depression is not my friend. Depression is like a bad boyfriend. I know he is no good for me, but I cannot seem to ghost him. How does a person break up with depression? I’m going to figure this out for myself. I’m not a doctor. I’m not offering advice to anyone. I’m simply going to chronicle my experiences with Joy and depression as if they are two different people I’ve met. This is a thought: I regularly do life with Joy and depression, but they’re never in the room at the same time. In fact they’re opposing teammates inside of me. They are opposite, like light and dark.
When depression is in the room I feel like I’m in the dark. I feel gloom, anxiety and sadness – feelings too heavy for me to name – too heavy for me to carry alone. Death feels present. I’m scared. I feel like I’m in a dingy room with ugly thoughts and there is a horror movie playing in the background of my mind. I wish I could turn it off, but I’m sitting still, I can’t move, I’m frozen. Fight- or flight- or freeze… I’ve read that those are the three ways people respond to confrontation. Depression does not always announce itself as a confrontation – sometimes but not always – sometimes it comes in stealth mode. Depression has learned that I don’t like confrontation. Depression has tried to befriend me, to mesmerize me with its depth and feeling. Depression is sneaky, it does not always act like a bully (confrontation is always a bully). I guess depression figured out that I don’t like bullies. Sometimes depression just wants to sit with me. Refusing to confront me, just a puppy on my lap.
My response to confrontation is usually to take flight, but sometimes I just freeze. I have the thought that I want to move, but I cannot. I’m literally frozen in time. It’s like I’m living in a high rise apartment building in a room with walls too thin to try to have any peace. There is either country music or heavy metal music playing somewhere or everywhere and I can hear people fighting, arguing, screaming angry words and hatred. This feels like what I would imagine hell to feel like. A place I cannot escape. If only I could move, get up and find the light switch of JOY on the walls of depression- if only I could flip that switch.
I can choose joy, can’t I? Joy is a thought I can choose to think even when I’m alone in the darkness with depression. I can choose JOY and she’ll annihilate depression. Yes, JOY IS MY SUPERHERO. But Super Heroes don’t hang out all the time- they appear when they’re called. They show up you holler’ for ‘em. They are always there when they are needed unless kryptonite is present. So what is Joy’s kryptonite? You guessed it – Depression. That’s been my experience with Joy and Depression.
I’m going to make a list of joys. A list of things that remind me of the great pleasure and happiness I have experienced in my life. Maybe that is the key that will unlock me from the prison cell of depression when it shows up unannounced and barges in on me. I don’t want to be locked away in depression forever. I can do something to escape it. As a Christian I am a FREE AGENT, right? So this blog is going to chronicle my personal experiences with Joy and depression. I feel hopeful. You can join me if you’d like, but either way I’ll be here typing the words – searching for the way to annihilate depression as I cultivate and curate my collection of Joy! Today’s addition to my collection is writing this blog.