Embodied Heart

That Time of Year

It has become more and more difficult for me to engage through writing these last few months. What I’m finally coming to accept is that I’ve slipped into a depressive state, which I will be processing in today’s #EmbodiedHeart post. I struggle with my mood primarily from a biological standpoint of hormonal fluctuations (PMDD) and seasonal variations. They are combining right now in an unholy synergy that is leaving me feeling quite down. The main symptoms with which I’m struggling:

Withdrawal

I am feeling less inclined to want to pursue social engagements and am finding myself opting out at the last minute. All the unpleasant parts of interaction seem heightened and the positives muted. I am also feeling very disengaged spiritually, which is highly frustrating because I just finished my Priestess training (I think this is a coincidence of time not a cause).

Anhedonia (Lack of Interest and Enjoyment)

This is the worst issue with which I’m currently dealing as nothing, and I mean nothing, seems fun or interesting to me. Typically I can pull myself along with a new project or at least a spending binge, but everything I’ve been trying to add seems “cluttering” and like it will become yet another responsibility. I have moments where I wonder what the point of me or anything is.

Hibernation

I’ve gained weight, am craving unhealthy foods, and want to go to sleep much earlier than normal. These signs tend to go along with seasonal affective disorder but began in late summer this time. My hypersomnia has been punctuated with a few nights of severe insomnia.

Shame and Worthlessness

This issue has been a bit strange because of the dissociative identity disorder. I feel shame and worthlessness, but at an internal distance—like someone else who rents out my body part-time is dealing with it and I wish I could do more to help them out. It is muted compared to the past when that part would take over and I would fall whole-body into the abyss.

I am not sure if this is symptom or cause, but I am also in more physical discomfort and pain than I have been for a while. I deal with several chronic health conditions which seem to be worsening along with the mood problems. My body isn’t an enjoyable place to be residing as of late.

Plan of Action

Practicing Self-Compassion

I want to be kind to myself during this time. I tend to berate myself for the ways in which I am lacking, rather than accepting my shortcomings and letting myself be with them. I want my thoughts and actions to support rather than antagonize the emotional vacuum in which I find myself. I especially want to improve my connection to and relationship with my body and am taking a day to go to the spa to do so!

Welcoming the Roots

These states tend to be time-limited and can allow me to go deeper into the underlying issues that affect me on a soul-level. I do not want to go on a weeding spree where I pull on every strand and am left in a tangle of memories and mess, but I do want to allow for any uprooting that may come. It’s a watery place in which I find myself and I hope I can let the tears, if there are any, fall.

Embracing Spaciousness

I’ve made a commitment this year to slowing down and examining ways in which I can simplify my lifestyle. Having everything going on feel like an overwhelming burden is an invitation to notice those people, events and processes in my life that are truly inspiring and joyful, and to let the rest fall away. I think it is human nature, at least in my nature, to try to fill up what feels empty in my life rather than to let it stay empty long enough to know whether the space is perhaps an opportunity to breathe deeply rather than a void.

Writing out my plan of action has re-centered me a bit and allowed me to see the potential benefits of what my body and mind are offering me currently. I feel slightly more hopeful that there is something to be gained by being here with it for a time, rather than demanding an end to any hints of depression as quickly as possible. If you struggle with depression, are there variations with season, body-state or other factors? What is the main sign that it has returned? What does your plan of action for addressing it typically include?

Goddess Thealogy

What Place of Joy: Spiritual Regeneration

Cross-posted at my SageWoman blog.

For today’s #Thealogy Thursday, I wanted to consider the lighthearted aspects of our journey in Goddess Spirituality. I use Womenrunes on a daily basis, and today I pulled the Sun card, which represents healing and play. We’ve entered the cold and dark season in the Northern Hemisphere, where little sunlight filters through to grace each day. How, then, during the gloomy winter months, do we find our moments of rainbow reflection? What in our busy and over-scheduled lives can provide opportunities to laugh, dance and act silly? And what do we do when it seems no comfort will arrive?

1. Enhance Your Living Space

When the weather forces us inside, it provides an opportunity to refresh and reinvigorate our dwelling space. This can include cleaning out clutter, reorganizing our belongings, and finding new ways to decorate our home.

Stockpiling materials we no longer need can weigh us down. Every year or so, I go through the boxes I have in my storage area and donate any materials that I realize I am not using. I do the same with my clothes.

Sometimes a room can feel completely revitalized simply by rearranging its layout. Perhaps there is something you can transfer to a new location to allow in more light or to enhance your freedom of movement. There may be an area for which you can find a special purpose such as an altar or sacred space.

My house has some “interesting” home decorations, including two entire walls I lined with artwork from thrift stores. Images such as a husky that is hand-painted in a portrait style and a photograph of a smiling camel make me grin regularly when I glance at them. To the extent that you are able to do so, allow your quirkiness and eccentricity to shine through, bringing your external surroundings into alignment with your inner being.

2. Gather Anew

A temptation I’ve experienced when I get together with friends is to focus on the good ole’ days of past adventures. On one hand, this can create belly-laugh moments of reminiscence. However, it can also leave one feeling that, now that we are grown-ups, there is no time for such silliness. Instead of holding on to the bygone era of younger foolishness, allow yourself to create new memories of joy. Seek out experiences that both challenge and excite.

Group ritual provides an opportunity to enact elated and enthusiastic expressions of inner light. The Pagan celebration of Yule can be one such event. In addition, perhaps you can create a costume party to free your inner child. Or, consider incorporating fun and interactive activities into a traditional holiday gathering. In this era especially, any group event with adults is likely to be filled with tension at the utterly despicable state of affairs in the world; dilute the potency of the bitter herbs we’ve been made to drink with joviality and celebration.

3. Experience the Antics of All of Gaia’s Creatures

There is a reason cat videos are their own entity online. Nothing makes me laugh harder than seeing animals acting ridiculously. Depending on your living situation and proximity to nature, you may have to make due with online versions of humor. If you are lucky enough to have animals nearby, spend time observing their behaviors.

Pets are an endless source of entertainment. Not only has my dog helped to heal my heart, he’s made me laugh harder than just about anything I’ve experienced in the last decade. Treasure each outburst they induce!

In addition to spontaneous antics, I’ve also borrowed a training technique I learned at dog obedience school to make a game for my dog when we are unable to walk outside due to rainy or frigid weather. We run around the house and I hide. He is so very bad at finding me, and seeing him prance to and fro attempting to locate me is hysterical.

4. Embrace the Chill

There are moments where the clouds are so thick and seemingly endless that reminding ourselves of warmth and sunshine may seem irrelevant. I value so deeply the aspects of Goddess thealogy that accept the fact that loss, sorrow, suffering and death, symbolized as spectral and dimly lit times with an air of chill, are intimately connected with the bright and beautiful dance of summer and sunlight. The closer the snow creeps around us in winter, the more expansive and hopeful the green of the grass later in the year. Artificial cheer often fades as soon as we leave the holiday party or turn out the twinkling lights.

We can instead allow ourselves to dwell in ponds of murky, ice-coated water of our suffering. In doing so, we thrill our marrow with the sharpness of the hurt that’s cast itself in our lives. Then, in time, we arise refashioned and remade with the pain in our hearts diffused and interwoven into the fabric of our being, threaded again and again into the hope, love and trust that we find meets us even in the shadows.

What helps you keep your spirits lifted? What are your favorite ways, no matter the situation, to find humor? How do you respond when the cold and black night crushes all glimmers of light? I hope to gather inspiration from your experiences so that we can collectively respond with appreciation and fortitude to the deep time of the year.