I came out of the womb an optimist. I have what many sociologists call a high “happiness set point.” Although I have anxious moments, I usually see the glass half full and tend to cycle quickly through negative emotions (so much so that I sometimes have to MAKE myself stop and really experience the full spectrum of what I’m feeling before I move on to higher ground).
But a week ago, I hit the wall. After months of working nights and weekends to launch a robust new web site and prepare for a major March book launch (on top of running my two sister coaching firms), I was COOKED. And I spiraled into a new and scary frontier for me—depression. Tearful, hope-less and scattered, try as I might to keep going, every part of me screamed, “If I get back on that computer one more time, I’ll go right over the edge … and may not come back.”
Even though I had taken relatively good care of myself during this incredibly stressful time—walks outdoors, downtime with family, eight hours of sleep a night, regular yoga and meditation, asking for help when needed— and knew this would be a time of growth and expansion for me (read more), emotionally and creatively my well was dry. My reserves were depleted. I was DONE.
So I did what any sane person should do when this happens: I unplugged from work and went off the grid for five days—right in the middle of preparing for our new book and website launch.
Crazy? I don’t think so. Crazy would have been continuing to push through and ended up … who knows where? My heart was clearly calling for a different course of action.
Now that the dull ache that resided in the center of my chest and near the back of my head for four days is gone and I’m finally feeling like myself again –I’m standing on the opposite banks of the river and moving at a much more thoughtful pace. I’m doing my best to stay alert and hear what is needed to truly support my well-being over the course of the next four months as I travel, do interviews, lead workshops and share the messages from Nurturing the Soul of Your Family. Even if this means doing things radically different. (Check out Chapter Nine from Nurturing the Soul of Your Family if this line speaks to you and read a great article about the book’s core message from this week’s WCF Courier in Iowa.)
One of the gifts I got from my dance with depression is my heart is now filled with the deepest empathy and compassion for my many friends and family who battle this dark visitor daily. Most studies say at least one in four of us will experience serious depression at some point in our lives and women are twice as likely to experience this as men (although I question this as we have coached thousands of men who live with chronic low-grade depression often as a result of being in work that lacks meaning and purpose).
My younger brother Kert believes depression is not something to run from—he believes it can be a gift and is often the experience of “depressing something” —wisdom, an insight, a call for change— that is trying to come out. It seems since most of us are moving so fast and rarely take time to tend to our inner world, it often takes something radical—like a detour into darkness—to bring us to our knees and to the altar of our souls– so we can hear what’s been calling for our attention … and tapping us on the shoulder for weeks, or months or years.
On the last day of my mini sabbatical as I meditated and reflected, listened to inspiring music, and prepared to move mindfully into my week, I vowed to continue to create the space to listen to the voice of my heart. And to honor what comes forth.
Solace~ My friend and award-winning Singer/Songwriter Sara Hickman wrote Comfort’s Sigh (from her incredible album Motherlode) for a friend who was battling depression. I’m sending this beautiful song out to all the moms, dads, jobless, teens, sick, elderly, students and all our sweet brothers and sisters that navigate depression as part of their daily lives. We love you. You are not alone. Be kind to your sweet selves and let us know how we can help.
An invitation~ explore how to nurture your soul and the soul of those you love by ordering a copy of my newest life balance title Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life (March/New World Library) from your favorite online retailer or picking up a copy at your local book store. If you’re in Texas, don’t miss Nurturing Your Soul~ An Evening of Self-Renewal on March 20 (the first day of spring) from 6-9 p.m. at Mercury Hall in Austin. Learn more and register.
P.S. Check out our beautiful new web site to learn about all of our life balance tools, programs and resources (huge kudos to the amazing Amy Hufford/Stellar Communications for bringing this site into being and Bella Guzman/Highwire Creative for her sublime art direction)!