You all know my penchant for hip hop, but I didn’t start listening to it much until 2005 when a friend burned me Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album–a masterful mashup of The Beatles’s The White Album and Jay-z’s The Black Album. Really good stuff if you’re looking for a way into hip hop from a rock background. Anyway, though, before I listened to The Grey Album, I was a rock and roll girl with a soft spot for alternative rock ballads. I’ve been listening to some of that old stuff recently, and I’m amazed at how formational it was for me, and how I’ve mentally locked it away in a box with memories and daydreams.
But, it all comes back at me like a wave I wasn’t expecting. I thought I had to put it away forever to be well. I thought I had to ignore everything about my depressed self to be strong. And maybe I do. Maybe I’m too fragile to feel. I love my church, but I’m too afraid to go to a service with music because it reminds me of my depression. My first depressive episode is saturated with musical memories–songs I loved that now transport me back to moments in the past, some of which I don’t want to remember. But some of those memories are worth remembering. Music and books, people I loved and experiences I had. Depression made my life tragic at times, but I’m not sure that I was ever really alone. I just isolated myself from anything that I was afraid of, and I have been terribly afraid of everything that reminds me of my first episode. I’ve never compartmentalized any other episode the way I did the first. It was more traumatic.
But that was 15 years ago. Maybe it’s time to stop being so afraid. Maybe I’m using my intellect as a defense against feeling. I tell myself that feeling deep emotion is the enemy because I only feel deeply when I cannot control it–usually on days when my depression looms large. I feel such relief when a film or tv show makes me cry because I feel sadness without self-loathing. I think it’s one reason I have had such a hard time with my daughter’s diagnosis. It is natural to grieve, but I don’t know how to process deep sadness without depression. My brain tells me it’s hopeless. So, rather than feel hopeless, I bottle it up until I lose control for a day or so.
Getting back to some of my interests from before my first episode reminds me that I used to love feeling a wider range of emotions before the negative ones were all tinged with suicidal ideation. Will I never feel them again? I feel love, I feel happiness. I can maybe grieve without a depressive episode, too.
I think it’s okay to go back. It’s certainly interesting. I wonder if the depressed woman I keep locked up inside (mentioned in my last post) is really just my 19 year old self. I did lock her away. I literally put away her music, books, friends, and dreams rather dramatically. Everything except my collage. I allowed myself that one abstract representation, but I didn’t look at it closely–wouldn’t read the text. I thought I had to put it all away. But maybe not. If we can never step in the same river twice, if we’re all constantly changing, then I don’t have to fear going back. I’ve come so far. I’m not what I’ve locked away because I’ve always been more than my depression. And I think I’m realizing that for the first time. Even when desperately ill, I just might be more than my disease. And maybe loving myself means loving all of myself. I am constantly learning by living in the present even when it reminds me of the past.