A short story here. As a teenager, I began to experience a form of depression. I would describe it as being quite happy on a sunny day and then suddenly dark clouds would show up on the horizon. They would darken my mood and I could not stop them from running over me. And, then, suddenly it was sunny again and off I’d go in my happy world. However, not knowing it, a crack was developing beneath my feet.
As I grew older, shame, guilt and self-hatred started becoming a more permanent part of my mindset. The crack grew beneath me. On one side was my outside persona and on the other side were my darker thoughts and views. Although the crack was getting wider, I was still able to straddle it. I felt like there were two me’s at times.
Finally in my early forties, the crack became too wide. I was severely depressed while acting like everything was ok. I fell into the crack.
I spent a summer barely able to get out of bed and I experienced a number of metaphysical moments, activities, and events. Psychiatrists who were more traditional would say I had a psychotic break. Others with more of Jungian perspective would describe it along the lines of self-actualization and shadow work and a part of the collective unconscious. For me, I would simply say that I didn’t know where I was, but I was not lost.
During this time, my dreams were vivid and they seemed to be able to call me whenever they had something to say. In that way, many of them felt like visions. Yeah, I know, that sounds kooky. During this time, I met a withered old man and his female companion/nurse who said he was dying of cancer and he wanted to return to Grass Valley/Nevada City, California area one more time saying he used to “come here when he was younger.” She said he was Carlos Castaneda. Castaneda was a highly popular and controversial author in the sixties, considered a fraud by serious academics and the Father of New Age by seekers of other paths. I had read some of his writings as I tried to explore the weird things I was experiencing. Jung would call this introduction as Synchronicity. Castaneda did indeed die a year after the woman introduced me to who she said was he.
Also, during this time I had a powerful dream that I was sitting at the base of a cedar tree when a convertible came driving recklessly past me. full of young people oblivious to the dangers on their road. In the next part of the dream, I entered a cave where thousands of young people were in different stages of sleep, unconsciousness. The further I went into the cave, the deeper the sleep. This sleep eventually led to death in the darkest, deepest regions of the cave. I was frantic in trying to wake everyone up, trying to bring them back awake. Odd thing, not long after that dream, I started down a new career path that was perfect for my skills and passions as I began working closely with college students. That occupation, as a possibility, had never crossed my mind.
From that dream, years later, I jotted down some lyrics “And the girls in their cotton dresses, they’re barefoot on the floor, are dancing to the music, like they’ve never danced before.” Later, I wrote, “There’s smoke coming from the mountain, the flames are growing higher, down in the valley, they’ve lost all their desires.” Ten years later or so, our hometown burned down killing 84 people. “The clouds are growing darker, the storm is growing near, instead of bolts of lightening, it’s bringing a reign of fear.” – A reign of fear, that pretty much describes what is at the core of so many of our troubles, both personal and otherwise. “The wind is howling in the desert, where the pine trees used to grow, Everybody is running for shelter, it depends on who you know.”- Climate disasters and homelessness. Some have so much, others have so little. “The shaman has lost his vision, the sheep have lost their way, nothing is forgiven on this unforgiven day.” – Spiritual leaders are more concerned with influence and power and they are violating the sacred trust… people are no longer thinking for themselves. Nobody is willing to forgive those who trespass against us and it creates a cycle of anger and hatred. “The hands on the on the clock are tired from the people wasting time. Everybody knows the problem saying ‘It ain’t no problem of mine.” – a lack of responsibility, politics over everything else.
Today, years later, this song, born of a dream, does not feel like a dream. It feels like reality. Yet, I disagree with the chorus or bridge, whatever it is, of this song that i wrote. I don’t think love has really gone away. Love hasn’t gone away. We’ve gone away from love. Love is the only answer to our “reign of fear.”
And back to my personal history. Today, there is no great chasm for me to straddle. The answer to my problem was to be honest, seek help, and begin forgiving myself and others. I try to tell the truth, especially about myself and I will gladly share my experiences with anyone who is struggling with their own well being. Yes, I still struggle with depression but I don’t use alcohol anymore to hide it. I struggle with fear -fear of loss, fear of outcomes, fear of unworthiness – but by admitting it, the fear loses some of its power, sometimes all of it. I like kooky people and I like being kooky such as blogging and sharing stories, and songs, and gardens. We are all connected to each other and to everything. We share the same star dust, you and me.
That’s quite a post. You’ve been through a lot in your life. I don’t know much about depression but from reading what you’ve experienced, it must be a relief to have gotten through some of the darkness. About your dreams, I truly believe that they are visions. In 2016 three years after my mother died a strong feeling arose to return to Arizona, for nearly a year and a half I had very clear visions in my sleep, I’d never had dreams like that before. My mother and I were close but our relationship was strained, if that makes sense, since she passed I have memorable dreams with ahe and I as the central part of the dream. I’ve often wondered if I was experiencing a mild form of depression. I’ve always been very different from others kind of the odd girl, I like that you’re happy being kookie, those of us who are unique tend to have a challenging path.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Depression is like a fog that seems able penetrate anything. It really tries to create a hopelessness and when you are able to hide it, it really can grow into quite a monster. It almost becomes an addiction within the mind. Yet, it can also be a great source of empathy and understanding…..those dreams/visions sure seem to be tapped into a deeper truth and reality than our normal daily lives. I don’t like to dabble too long with them or in them – for mental health reasons – but one can’t deny them either. Something needs to enter our consciousness, something very important such as moving back to Arizona….stay kookie! What do we care what others think, hey. Those others are really quite boring….yeah, I just felt like telling the truth behind that song.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I really, really liked that song. I could imagine the girls dancing in their cotton dresses, it’s a lovely ballad and story of truth.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you Laura! That keyboardist used to tour with Olivia Newton John among many others. He really did a great job interpreting it.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Honored to share some star dust with you. Keep helping us find the love!
And I am very honored to be your friend.
Nice one, Gary. I liked the words and tune. It is interesting that your writing it was a prophecy of sorts.
I can relate to your depression as I’ve struggled with low mood/chemistry most of my life. I was on a SSRI in the 90s and coincidentally just started up last week. Boiled down to I couldn’t go on without it. My stubborn pride delayed it too long. Time to climb out of the hole. 🙂
Thank you Eliza! Yes, I think there were components of prophecy in that dream. Over a six month period, and intently during that summer, I experienced many things that probably shouldn’t be shared on a public format. It was frightening at times, for me and for the witnesses of it all…. Deeply disturbing, yet authentically soulful. I still don’t understand it all…..I am so glad to read that you have decided take action with your own challenges. I am not surprised to read of your own bouts with depression. I think your photography is evidence of tremendous insight into the beauty that lies among the chaos of life. Your vision and perspective can only come from a very sensitive nature., not from a cookie cutter personality. You share true beauty, life affirming beauty with us. I don’t know a single person who could not benefit from extra attention to their mental health and I get a little frustrated with our culture’s continued denial of our need for mental health care and instead concentrates on solving male pattern baldness and premature ejaculation.
I am glad I wrote this post although at the time I thought, “Why am I doing this?” Only God knows why.
Thank you for your kind comment and connect, Gary. A verbal hug! 🙂 I think showing our vulnerability is actually a sign of strength and gives others the courage to acknowledge the same in themselves, recognizing our common humanity. You never know who you’ll touch and possibly help by doing so.
LikeLiked by 1 person