The ending as a beginning
“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished; that will be the beginning.”
— Louis L’Amour*
These past few weeks have been difficult. In the short life of this project, almost two months without producing content for this blog seems like an eternity. Difficulties aside, I will not try to make this an excuse. My wish is to respect the fundamental pillars of this undertaking: transparency and sincerity. I have never tried to show a made-up or improved image of myself or disguise my defects and shortcomings. That's why I must confess that I have had a lot of difficulties finding topics to write about lately. It has been elusive for me to feel sufficient and assertive. Perhaps it is due, in a certain way, to the fear of sounding repetitive or writing for the sake of doing it, lacking the necessary conviction and desire. So much so that the idea crossed my mind that I had nothing left to say.
I genuinely thought that I had reached the end of my sharing days.
After some consideration of that idea, I realized how absurd it was. Not because I consider myself someone especially talented when it comes to writing, speaking, or transmitting a message, but because I have a lot to say… because I have lived a lot. That entails, almost by inertia, experience, and knowledge, however humble they may be. It also occurred to me that this feeling of "not knowing what to say" in a blog had a parallel with that of not knowing how to communicate my frustrations, how to express my needs, or, in the most basic of cases, how to ask for help.
Depression has this amazing ability, this paralyzing effect on our mind and body. It reduces our being little by little, trying to take it to its smallest expression. It convinces us of being a consequence and not cause, an effect, but not an action. And this happens, usually, in such a subtle way, that when that rare moment of lucidity arrives amid the blindness of pain, it finds us coiled up in a corner, without knowing how we got to that state, or when it was that we lowered our guard.
Fortunately, in that moment of lucidity, I thought I understood that what I interpreted as the end of an attempt, had the potential to become the true beginning of a path.
Perhaps, it was not my message that had reached its conclusion. Maybe what I needed to put an end to was the pressure I was exerting on myself, and allow my thoughts to flow naturally, not in a forced way. It was possible, then, that it was time to draw a line and start over, not discarding what had already been done, but making those necessary adjustments.
So, suffice it to say that, after a couple of weeks of carrying that feeling of emptiness on my shoulders, I thought of doing something that is hardly recommendable when sitting down to write: start without planning, without outline or draft, absolutely surrendered to the chance of discovery.
Here I am then. Thinking of what to say, while trying to say it. And I do it because I believe, with total honesty, that in those situations in which we feel the need to communicate, the best thing is to try to do it in any way, slowly stringing sentences together, trusting that, little by little, ideas will be formed in our mind and it will transform them into words, sentences, and paragraphs...
Perhaps for some this attitude may sound irresponsible, distant, and even disrespectful. But how could I show more respect than by trying to do what I promised to do months ago? All we have left, sometimes, is the intent, the effort, and the rebellion against that wall that stands before our existence. Walls like this appear here and there, yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and we don't always have the necessary tools or weapons to attack them and tear them down. Sometimes just our bare hands and clenched fists are all we have left to punish them until our strikes are successful. It would be great, or rather ideal, to have a battering ram to simplify our work but, on many occasions, the only thing we have at hand to beat the fortress’ gates is our own body, tired and wounded, but alive, well and still rebellious.
Isn't this an accurate allegory of what happens to those of us who daily battle against depression? Do we not feel, over and over again, just standing in front of the gates of a fortress we are not trying to get into, but are desperately trying to get out of?
If you have truly experienced this feeling, I know you will understand me. I know that you will feel identified with the frustration and impotence of colliding again and again, with all your humanity, against that construction that imprisons you. But it is not about the pain and suffering that I want to talk about, but rather about the glory of the battle, the inspiration of not giving up, and the pursuit of victory, trusting in our strengths and abilities, without forgetting the support of those who love us.
The lie of exclusive loneliness
One of the big problems for those dealing with conditions like depression is the feeling of loneliness. Absolute, deep, and hurtful loneliness that invades us as a consequence of mistakenly believing that we are alone in our struggle. It is very common to hear from people affected by depressive symptoms, phrases such as "I don't know why this happens to me", "I don't know what I am doing wrong", or "I cannot understand why I am different". All these questions are based on false, erroneous premises, completely detached from reality, but which make us see our battle as a unique event, isolated from the reality of society, which only aggravates our pain and increases the thickness of the walls that imprison us.
This situation is cruel and dangerous. On more than one occasion I have expressed the need to accept our faults and bear our responsibilities. However, feeling guilty about something that is beyond our control is a different, unfair situation, from which we must free ourselves. A chemical imbalance, a traumatic experience, or a complicated life situation are external causes that negatively affect us. Whether chemical or situational, the roots of depression often reach depths that we don't know about and that we need to be aware of if we want to survive its occurrence. And that is where our responsibility comes in: to know the causes, face them and overcome them.
The struggle will always carry costs. It is not sensible to expect to fight in combat and come out unscathed, hardly a scratch. But victory is possible, which is always sweeter and more glorious the more ferocious it has been. And that battle can be fought on your terms and at your own pace. A head-on attack against our strongest, most numerous, and most experienced enemy is not always convenient. Rather, chipping away at their strengths bit by bit, winning battles that, at first glance, seem tiny, can result in a final victory that will be nothing more than the accumulation of small conquests. What these battles and conquests are will be entirely up to you. They will depend on your situation, your strengths, and also your weaknesses. The important thing is to face the fight, to get into it, even if we are dealing with a swarm of questions and doubts, because the important thing, sometimes, is just to start. Accepting reality and getting ready to face it is a start.
If crashing into our shortcomings, while chewing on the taste of defeat, makes us feel that we have reached the end of our capacities, acknowledging that reality and getting ready to face it, and change it, should be our new beginning.
There are situations in life in which, to get ahead, there is no choice but to start writing on a blank page, even believing that we have little or nothing to put on paper. Maybe that is your current situation. Perhaps it is time to stop waiting for something to happen to talk about it, and instead, try to be the cause and not the consequence.
The sheet is in front of you, empty and ready. You are the pen and the ink.
See how much I had to say and all I needed was just to start writing.
Now it’s your turn.
* Louis L’Amour - (Marzo 22, 1908, Jamestown, ND – Junio 10, 1988, Los Angeles, CA) fue un novelista y cuentista estadounidense. Muchas de sus historias fueron llevadas al cine.