The blank white screen of depression

The blank white screen of depression

I used to think depression is dark and scary. A big dark hole or tunnel that surrounds you, cuts you off from everything you know and love and leaves you sitting naked on cold stone, hugging yourself in a fetal position trying to conserve the last bit of warmth you hold, trying to keep the cold and dark from soaking into your body, your mind, your heart, your soul. Sometimes depression is this.

Sometimes depression is a blank white screen of nothingness. Of sitting alone with your thoughts and trying desperately to will the numbness away. To entice yourself to feel… anything. You take the quiet time, you take a break, you sit with the feeling, because after decades of fighting it, judging it, trying to convince yourself it isn’t there you finally learned what it is. Depression. You know its name and you know how it feels. You know how to recognise it when it first starts seeping into your skin, crawls up from the tips of your hair to the roots, claws at your ankles and shins. ‘I am getting depressed, I feel lost, I feel lonely, I feel helpless.’ Help me.

But no one can. People can create safe spaces for you and guide you. They can sit with you and send you quote after quote about how beautiful life is and what you need to be grateful for. But you find yourself sitting amidst this raging storm of magic that they find in life with a heart that feels like it is beating empty. With tears crawling down your face from eyes that stare but do not see.

You have worked so hard on self-love, self-care and acceptance, convincing yourself that you are worthy to breathe until you knew it rather than just felt it. You hang your head as the feeling of futility washes over you and spills over onto your cheeks. All that hard work and you are right back where you started. Purposeless, worthless, nothing. But your lungs insist on breathing, on expanding and contracting and your heart insists on beating the empty.

So you focus on your breath, every inhale deeper, every exhale longer. Until you feel your entire chest moving with the motions. You feel how your diaphragm expands and contracts, pushing your tummy in and out. It makes you feel a bit light headed and you convince yourself you can feel the beat of your heart. You just sit. And you breathe. And you feel your heart pumping the nothingness… pumping the life… This is enough for this moment. In this moment, find purpose in breathing, in your heart pumping in being alive. It is ok to have moments where just being alive is enough.

Feel it in your body. Feel the tingling of the aliveness in your middle toe and your ring finger. Find it in that small spot at the back of your ear. Feel it in your left nostril as the cold air caresses it when you inhale, and in your navel that rises and falls with your breathing. Sit with it and notice all the spaces where you can find aliveness in your body. Feel the nothingness fade away slowly, moment by moment until you are ready to come back to yourself in the full knowing that you are enough, that where you are and what you have now is enough. When you are ready, straighten your back and lift your face. Realise that what you want, what you desire is yours for the taking. Go and make it happen. Slow and steady does not always win the race… but then, you are your only competition anyway.

Juanita Pienaar

Juanita Pienaar is a citizen of the world, recently settled back down in her home country, South Africa, after spending time traveling and living in Asia and Africa. She has a passionate love affair with the ocean and loves to share that passion by teaching scuba diving. She is a yoga teacher and fully believe in finding the balance in life. She has recently discovered the joy and freedom of wearing yoga pants ‘out-and-about’. Juanita loses herself in the written and spoken word.

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