For as long as I can remember, I have lived with what I see as my high functioning depression. I am a man of Optimism, but that is not the same as positivity. I do see Beauty in the world, and practice Thankfulness. Part of that Thankfulness is to be “thankful in adversity”. My ultimate and consistent adversity is my life long journey with this high functioning depression.
This may come as a surprise to many, and not… to a very few.
I am not hiding it, nor masking it. I am functioning with it; high functioning most of the time.
Am I sad a lot? No. Hopeless? Never. Do I experience insomnia or over sleep? Very rarely. Do I experience lower self esteem? Only in a select few areas of my life. Do I experience difficulty concentrating or making decisions? Again, only in a select few areas of life. That said, I have been one inclined to over eat; though, no longer. And while I do manifest great energy, I do also experience the need to work at it in the face of fatigue. An almost spiritual fatigue walks with me, relentlessly, as companion. I have a spirit that I have characterized as Thunder and Lightning; longer periods of thunderous Perseverance with flashes of utter Enthusiasm, naturally felt and expressed.
My Thunder and Lightning
My core virtues of Love, Honor, Idealism, Nobility, Unity and Zeal march with me on my trek, and help, in their relentless practice, to meet the fatigue and dance with it. They are my own personal Thunder and Lightning. They crash and flash, and clear the air.
Yes, I have my own arsenal in the face of said spiritual fatigue. While I have never taken medication (though I see no shame and great virtue in doing so, if needed), I do have my practices and almost built in defenses. I have seen what I call the Dragons of Depression and have learned my own ways to dance with them. Love is a practice. Honor is a practice. To Love and Honor myself, I both accept my journey and walk it, through the good, bad and even ugly.
Love and Honor; they are the best expression of my own Idealism and Nobility; providing me a sense of purpose and a valuing of who I am and the walk I walk.
Every time, I engage the fatigue, these four hold the fort. They provide me, in their practice, the capacity to Love and Honor myself as myself… to see me as I am, and walk my best walk (in both movement and stillness) as myself…
… and to know that I walk with purpose and high value. They (all four) are bulwarks and have been built up over years of working them. They are strengthened through their practice. I call it sharpening the blades.
Sharpening the blades is about practice. Practice makes permanent… there is no perfect. Well there is. Perfect as a noun is a myth. Perfect as a verb is our best reality; to get ever better. I practice these four with perfecting in mind and heart.
Then, there is Unity. We often see this as being about peace and cooperation with others. But, there is a Unity within too; an Acceptance of the often seemingly warring parts. The practice of Unity forges my dance with the Dragons, if you will. I do not fight them but befriend them, and dance with them. They are indeed fierce, but I can connect with them. Unity matters in my own personal dance within.
And then, Zeal; that capacity to marry Enthusiasm and Purposefulness to create Lightning in a bottle, if you will. Zeal helps me burn away the dross of fatigue.
Love, Honor, Idealism, Nobility, Unity and Zeal; I rely on them. Are they a medicine I recommend? I recommend nothing. If you are experiencing such high functioning depression, I suggest you open yourself to whatever works that is healthy for you, including medications if necessary. Explore and be open to what you need. That said, I have come to see these six strengths in practice as friends along the way.
Is this easy? No. Does it get easier? In some ways maybe. But, it does teach me that strengths of character are not nebulous nor warm and fuzzy. They are strengths in their practice, for life.
We need them, and all the virtues, not as some “nice” thing… but as a necessary thing, for strength. In times of challenge and change, we need them. In times of fatigue, we need them. In times of malaise, we need them. They are strengths of our humanity… of our best sense of community… and Justice. Our virtues, and their practice are our collective and individual birthright; and our defense against any dark arts.
These last 16 months have been highly challenging for me. 70 weeks since starting teaching and working online. 70 weeks in a pretty singular bubble (though with double dose now, that will change somewhat). 70 weeks of adapting and learning.
In addition, during that time… the cancer and passing of #bestlittledogintheworld Panda and my own diagnosis of the onset of Type 2 Diabetes. And, in all cases, I have walked the grief moving forward… and functioned to a large extent, finding my own sense of meaning, if you will. I am working on my health and responding to the challenges; and doing well with it. And, in so doing, I have practiced my own sense of Mindfulness.
And yet, this last month has its own challenges around that old friend, fatigue. And so, the learning continues; authentically so. I am dancing with those dragons today. Big Time. Writing on it helps as it is a vehicle for practicing that Love, Honor, Idealism, Nobility, Unity and Zeal. This will be a week of some serious dancing me thinks. And the Six will be with me.
Yes, this all teaches me again and again. It does teach me, especially amongst days of greater fatigue, like these amidst Pandemic and the passing of Panda and matters of health… that their practice is ever more important. As I walk my own path through such times, finding ways to practice and manifest Love, Honor, Idealism, Nobility, Unity and Zeal matter.. to me, and my life and living it. They always will.
Indeed, they offer me consistently and forever more… a renewing Lease on Life.
For me, they are Devotion, Dignity and Doing It made manifest.
I keep walking. Let’s keep walking.
Peace, passion and prosperity…
“Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing. ― Abraham Lincoln