In an effort to wrap up my posts of the last two days, I wanted to talk about a very important point that my journal entry in Part 2 alluded to, but that I didn’t discuss too much.
And that is curiosity.
The question that I struggled with during this time of despair was one of the tension between control and mystery. On the one side, having control over my life could mean having control over my death. Is that always bad? I don’t know, but for a woman in her mid-30’s not suffering from terminal cancer, it did seem like a pretty draconian solution to a probably temporary problem. In my case, my depression lasted end-to-end about six to eight weeks, give or take. And that, by the way, is fairly textbook.
Depression has a familiar pattern, you begin to feel worse, then over time you get to the point of feeling basically nothing, and eventually you start to come out of it.
With major depression, the six to eight weeks is about the maximum an “episode” lasts, although for people with this diagnosis, they can have episode after episode. In my case, I had this one major episode, and then much less intense, even mild, episodes of depression. I still have times when I’m on the low end of the mood scale, of course, but these seem pretty normal to me now and rarely last more than a few days or up to a week or so.
But back then, in the middle of all this muck it was hard to keep to the idea that this would probably, on its own, eventually lift and I’d be able to feel again and even feel good again. So control looked like a viable alternative.
Then there’s the mystery of life. Which in my case included having to ride out this time and be open to the possibility that it might happen again. And if I chose to live now, there were no guarantees that the next bout of depression might not be even worse. Of course, there was also the possibility that it might never ever be as bad, too. And that, with the tools I was learning in therapy and in life, I might be much happier than I currently was.
That’s the thing about mystery – it’s . . . mysterious and there are no easy answers. Stuff happens. Serendipity is allowed. Maybe you even get to make it to Paris. Or fall in love again. Maybe, though, you do get cancer and die in your 40’s. That’s the mystery of it all.
And then there’s curiosity. Even in my depths, my curiosity of the future probably saved me most of all. The glimmer of this – the wondering of how my son would turn out, of how I might change and grow, and even just how the world would change . . . those questions actually kept me anchored in life.
Even when it was hard. Even when I just didn’t care about any of it.
I have given a lot of thanks for being, essentially, a curious person who is rarely bored. Or put another way, when I do feel bored, it’s usually because I haven’t been able to engage my curious nature quite yet. But there’s always something that will pique it eventually.
After all, 20+ years ago I had heard of computers and worked with them, but the internet? Not so much. And laptop and tablet computers, iPhones, and kindles – all in the future. And all things I now use every single day. The list could go on and on.
Ultimately, my curiosity caused me to hang on until it got better, and to keep working hard on myself. It doesn’t mean I have ever reached any amorphous ideal of perfection, but I’m definitely better than I was. I am definitely happier, too. And I’m definitely fully engaged in the mystery of life and living in the present (at least most days!)