Mental Illness Awareness Week
Rounding out Mental Illness Awareness week with something personal. Like many healers, I have personally struggled with depression throughout my entire life. Some phases have been minor. Other times my depression pulled me down and got the best of me. Depression is simply something I labeled as a part of my being, something that would always be there. That is, until a healer friend of mine pointed out that my mood seemed to be in sync with the Lunar Cycle (the Moon’s waxing and waning).
My Depression Struggles
As a child, I can remember periods of time when I would come home from school and go straight to sleep. I would wake up only to have dinner, immediately fall back asleep, and sleep straight through the night. During these years depression, anxiety, and other emotional imbalances were not recognized. I simply assumed I was tired and needed some extra rest. Didn’t think much beyond that. I would sleep through the cycle, and the fatigue would dissipate as randomly as it would appear.
However, in my late teens / early twenties my depression was a completely different creature. When I would fall, I would fall deep and quickly. I recall days when my Husband would force me out of bed. Days when I would sob uncontrollably for no apparent reason. My mind was confused, dark, and full of conflicting horrible thoughts. Thankfully, I was never actually suicidal. But, anyone who has had even a taste of depression knows that even the thought of living can sometimes feel exhausting.
My mind was confused, dark, and full of conflicting horrible thoughts.
The darkness of depression consumed much of my late teens / early twenties and robbed beautiful years from my life. Eventually, I sought out professional help. I was “formally” diagnosed with manic depression. A label that seemed drastic and terrifying at the time. I took SSRIs for years. I am sure it would shock most to know, but I am forever grateful for the help they provided me. Yes, I felt numb and emotionally removed most of the time. However, feeling stable and functional was preferable to the debilitating depths of my depression.
My Path Changed
In my late twenties I started to shift into my life’s work as a healer. I had a consistent and strong yoga practice, ate well, monitored alcohol use, and read anything I could get my hands on. Oh yeah, I also returned to graduate school to pursue a Master’s in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine (classic Saturn Return sh*t)!
I was cautious. But, all of these changes opened up my mind to the possibility of living one day without the SSRIs. Eventually, I worked up the courage to ween off of them. It took time, but I am so glad I did. However, I also knew going forward I would have to be forever conscious of my mood. I was strong enough to remove the SSRIs, but bouts of depression still did come and go.
The Lunar Cycle and My Depression
One day a healer friend of mine suggested I keep a Moon journal for a month. Initially, I had no idea what she was talking about! She said to simply note how my mood was each day during the Lunar Cycle. Then at the end of the month, see if I noticed any patterns with my mood. I was blown away. My mind and my emotions were completely in sync with the Moon’s waxing and waning. For example, during the Dark Moon phase I tend to dip into a low mood or even slight depression. Whereas after the New Moon, when the Moon starts to wax into the Full Moon I feel bright, bold, and motivated. During the waxing phase (symbolic of birth and life) my mood is up and stable. But, during the waning phase (symbolic of death and dying) it tends to dip or become slightly erratic.
During the waxing phase (symbolic of birth and life) my mood is up and stable. But, during the waning phase (symbolic of death and dying) it tends to dip or becomes slightly erratic.
I understand that it might seem strange, laughable, or even dangerous. Everyone’s depression and circumstances are different. When it comes to mental-emotional imbalances we must be respectful of that. Everyone’s depression and/or anxiety manifests in very different ways. However, if I am conscious of the Lunar Cycle, I am personally able to manage any sadness or depression that might come my way. It is simply a tool I use to help me cope, and it completely works for me! Hey, if the Moon can control the tides, why isn’t it fair to say it could affect emotions? Anything is possible in this magical Universe!