Cross Post: Loving Me Sadly - Depression
By michelewhitney on July 26, 2012
“As tough as it is, depression can be dealt with in a paradoxical way. See it as a visitor, perhaps an unwelcome one, but one who is visiting whether you like it or not. Make a place for your guest. Invite your depression to pull up a chair with you in front of the fire, and sit with it, without looking for a way to escape.” -Elizabeth Kubler-Ross & David Kessler from On Grief and Grieving
The fourth stage of grief is depression. It is important to note that depression as a response to grief is somewhat different than clinical depression or major depressive disorder that I discussed in my Confessions of a Major Depressive series. The depression within the grieving process can simply be thought of as…sadness.
Okay, it’s not simple. The not so simple part of it is that in this stage, we actually sit with being sad, without trying to escape it or weasel out of it. Consider this story that I found in Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance. I read it at a workshop I did about grief recently, it’s one of my favorites:
In a small midwestern town, an elderly couple lived next door to a family with a four-year-old son. When the old woman died, her grieving husband was left totally on his own. Several days after her death, the little boy went to visit the man, and they spent hours together silently—the boy sitting on the old man’s lap. Each year the town gave an award for the “kindest act,” and the following spring the elderly gentleman nominated the boy to be the recipient. Surprised, his mother asked him, “What was it you talked about that day when you went over there?” He responded, “I didn’t say anything, Mommy. I just helped him to cry.”
The depression stage of grief is where we can be as sad as we want, cry as much as we want. Feelings that we have shut out have returned. It’s time for us to deal with them now.
If I had to say which grief stage I spend most of my time in about being single, it’s right here in depression. In my last post on bargaining, I asked the question, should I have to sacrifice my authenticity to receive a mate in return? When my answer is no, when I realize that it is too exhausting for me to be anything other than the woman that I am, but through all of that, I am still without an intimate partner…well then that leads me to depression.
The type of depression I feel about being single is a small component of my overall battle with clinical depression. These are the single girl blues. (Sounds like another title of a book I could write, haha). So basically now, I have moved past the denial about being single at this point of my life. But I still get pretty pissed about it (anger). And after my attempt at bargaining my way into a changed relationship status (by changing who I am) didn’t work, I am left with an overwhelming sadness because my circumstances haven’t changed.
I try to practice gratitude during this time, but the focus in this depression stage is warped. This is when I focus on everything I don’t have.
Couples holding hands and sharing affection…
Sweet kisses in the park…
A gentle, unexpected touch…
Sharing intimate secrets…
Sharing dreams and goals…
Celebrating big success and small accomplishments together…
Past failures in love and past loves take up a lot of space in my mind during this time. In my sadness, I try to figure out what went wrong. The depression I feel about being single was best described in an un-published essay I wrote called Happy Love Addicted Single Birthday. It pretty much sums it all up.
I will cry during this time, sometimes in strange, inappropriate places and odd times (like on my way home from work on the bus). But tears are okay. I believe that it is okay for me to cry because I have lost one of the most difficult things to lose. A dream. There is something to be sad about, no matter what other people may say.
It makes me sad when I think about how impossible the dating/relationship/singleness situation is in reality…or in my own limited human thinking. But sitting with these sad feelings are a necessary pathway to self-love and ultimate self-acceptance.