I grew up on a farm with wide open spaces and lots of sunshine. I go back a couple of times a year to visit family (they live a long way from me) and usually find some time to go walking. On one of my walks I came across a gum tree. That in itself isn't unusual as there are many gum trees in the area, however this particular tree was special. It was magnificent not just because of it's thick solid trunk, beautiful coloured bark and green leaves, it's magnificence was in what it represented to me. At the base of the tree lying on the ground were three very large pieces of dead trunk that had obviously been part of the tree at one time. The tree had suffered some kind of trauma yet despite the odds had survived and grown a new trunk, branches and leaves. It seemed to be saying well I might be down but I'm not out. I'm not finished and I've got some more growing to do. It somehow seemed symbolic of my life.
Anyone who suffers with depression knows that the core of who we are is or has been suffering some kind of trauma. What is it that rocks our world in such a way that little bits of ourselves flake away while we desperately try to hold it together? Sometimes there are answers and sometimes there aren't. I've always desperately wanted answers. I felt that if I could only understand my depression I could solve it and it would go away. Not so. I understand bits of it but not the whole. Sometimes the more I try to work it all out, the more it eludes me and that is frustrating. I have learnt that I have to go with the flow and sometime I'm kicking and screaming all the way, it feels just too hard. But then I'm reminded of the gum tree.
So what has a gum tree got to do with me? Well my tree (as I like to call it) was stubborn, it held on. I am stubborn, I am holding on. I may be down, but I'm not out. I'm not finished, I've got some growing to do even though growing can hurt. Kids will often complain about growing pains in the legs, it's a bit like that. I do my growing by persisting and not giving in when really it would be so much easier just to stay in bed, hide under the covers and go back to sleep. I persist by incorporating things in my life on a daily basis, the things I love to do. I have to create, it's not an optional extra for me. It's how I connect to who and what I am and when I make connections it seems to go a little easier for me. I might crochet, sew or paint in oils or create by tending my garden. I need a relationship with the ground and I'm sure that has a lot to do with growing up on a farm. And I suppose winter is such a struggle for me because I can't be outside with my hands in the ground.
I believe anyone who suffers with depression does better when they can make connections with what is important to them. To someone else these connections may not make sense, that's not important because they aren't the person living with depression. Look after those parts of yourself that you may have ignored for a long time or never acknowledged at all. Make a connection with something or someone and you may find it goes a little easier for you too.