For me, the slow climb from childhood to adulthood was not a graceful dance. I didn't drift easily from the throes of a bright-eyed, creativity-fueled youth into a fulfilled young woman. Rather, my teenage years were lumbering, slightly cringe-worthy, and totally melodramatic.
Looking back, I realize that I never wanted to grow up because the adults around me weren't having nearly as much fun as the kids were. Inevitably though, my content child's mind was breached with the reality of maturation, while my body developed strange pubescent mutations. Rejecting this shift, I slowly started to paw my way, bit my bit, into a bottomless rut of depression.
The grips of depression didn't seize me overnight. Instead, it was a slow and meticulous dig that gradually dirtied up childhood effervescence. I began questioning my personal worth, the power I had over my lot in life, certain worldly issues, and the purpose of my existence. Although these questions screamed loudly within me, nobody around me seemed to be having these types of thoughts...so I did everything I could do to stuff them down into the anti-chambers of my conscious where nobody would notice them, not even me (or so I thought). Well, I was awkward enough as it was, I didn't need to stick out like a sore thumb by having deep questions as such a young age.
"Nothing to see here, folks! I'm normal and totally accepting of the fact that we're ghosts in these meat suits hurtling through space on a rapidly spinning rock just like all you!" (Sike. I'm freaking out!!!)
A theory: Many who have experienced one form of depression or another are not designed to endure strong internal turmoil for long expanses of time. We are sensitive. We want to feel good with such ferocity that we operate with an extremely low resistance-tolerance. Thus, I found my teenage self agonizing over random insecurities and discomforts that genuinely shouldn't have mattered. Oh, the angst of a female teenager...
However, like many who act out in this way, as I raged against the major and minor woes of my existence, these various internal and external discomforts became greater, and thus the depression pit yawned open wider (surprise, surprise). No amount of fighting seemed to pacify me.
My wobbly lifestyle dragged on for some years, producing a roller-coaster of events both wildly pleasurable (I have always had some wonderful things and humans surrounding me that I wasn't completely ignorant to, but I definitely hadn't yet gotten into a practice of deliberately appreciating them). Days consisted of enduring the good, bad, and ugly with no control of my life whatsoever--a crap-shoot grind. Patterns developed in my mind, ones I had no idea how to begin molding or shaking. Like a sponge, I picked up beliefs from those closest to me, ones that now had their mental footing, running circles on auto-pilot whether I wanted to perpetuate them or not. Meanwhile, a small but mighty voice in the back of my mind always knew that life was supposed to be meaningful. It would whisper "I am special, I am good, I am worthy, I am made of magic, and there is more to this life. I deserve clarity, joy, and fulfillment." I knew that the end of my childhood was not the end of my effervescent joy. It couldn't be! But this antagonized me more than it cheered me up. Because I was all too aware that I was not living my very best life, and that I should be. Sound familiar?
This small but mighty piece of my conscious would pop in from time to time with it's freeing thoughts, and I would lurch forward to catch its tail and hold on for dear life in the hopes that it would take me with it to a better place...but it would scurry off, and I would lose my grip, getting left in the dust. Little did I know, I only had to clear some clutter, create a cozy home for that voice within myself, and lure it over with love to where I was.
At age 17, I began spending time with my first spiritual mentor, my eldest brother, Rain. 18 years my senior, I didn't have a clue what journey I'd be set off on when I agreed to join him at his place one evening to catch up. Feeling raw from an emotional day (*cough*year*cough*), I confessed some of my internal struggles with him. I mentioned my inability to feel joy for long periods of time, how I'd wake up with shitty thoughts, etc, etc. And as if by some divine timing and orchestration, my brother began to tell me things that nobody had ever said so blatantly to me before. Simultaneously, I was in a place to actually hear him. He was my cool big brother, after all. He wove together words about consciousness, love, eternality, the nature of the universe and its consistent laws, meditation, vibrational energy, the power of thought, the guidance of emotion, and he told me in depth about his spiritual journey.
I listened. I absorbed. I cried. I laughed. I cracked open. I put down my shields of resistance that I accidentally held in place. I felt ways that I couldn't ever remember feeling in the past. And it was in that moment that I knew that the small but mighty voice in the back of my mind was indeed right. But it no longer hurt to know that. I actually enjoyed the desire for a better feeling life for the first time in a long while. Rain helped me to realize that this voice was some form of inner wisdom, as old as time itself.
Head swimming with new perspectives, I left his house feeling high in a way I'd never known. Naturally, I was drawn to revisit him the following night. And many nights after that.
"Meditate," Rain told me one night, "every day for 15-20 minutes."
He suggested a guided meditation on YouTube, and I nestled into my couch, headphones in, pressed play, and shut my eyes. For the first 15 minutes of synchronized breathing (3 seconds in, 5 seconds out) and gentle spoken affirmations from the guide, I felt good, but didn't notice any significant changes to my disposition. I just felt calm, detached, at ease.
Then, towards the end of the track, it happened. As if I were on a ship at sea, I felt a rocking sensation within me. My inhales and exhales ebbing and flowing atop the inner waves. Like I was adrift on a sea of liquid love, an immeasurable body of fuzzy, welcoming warmth that stripped me bare of all thought, all other feelings-- The track ended. My eyes hazily half-opened. I couldn't hit replay fast enough. Quickly drifting back inward, I bobbed to-and-fro for another 15-minute run. I felt like I had hit some sort of lottery that we all have access to, but hardly anyone was. WTF? How had nobody suggested this to me sooner? Why is this not common practice? Safe to say I was low-key addicted. Spending any spare moment I could find, I slipped back into the throes of what I now call "Alignment". This alignment is between me and a wiser me (that mighty voice no longer so small). Gods, it felt amazing to let go of such heavy emotional, mental, and physical baggage I'd been lugging from place to place. Naturally, I wanted more, and I wanted everyone around me to get a whiff of what I was discovering. Obsessively, I took up appreciation practices, stream of consciousness journaling, yoga, and extensive philosophy research.
As impactful as meditation was, it was only the beginning of a long and winding spiritual road, paved with community, teachers, growth, and even more questions. I've learned that we're never meant to "get it done", to stop enjoying the evolution of our perspectives. I am proud to say that I did manage to surface out of my depressive pit fairly quickly and for good by using these tools of mindfulness to continuously replace my lackluster belief systems (a process I'll never stop enjoying) with better and better ones.