Into The Marvelous Light: My Personal Self Care Kit When Darkness Calls

When the dark moments descend like a soft mist before a light rain, I have some options for riding out the incoming storm. When it’s finna be a hurricane of gloom and doom without end, I call the doctor. But when it’s just that slow drizzle if ickiness, I got a personal toolkit for staying dry and healthy.

It looks like this for me:

Prayers for the peace of God. There’s peace with God (reconciliation); there’s peace in God (rest); and there’s the peace of God (revelation). Listen. Nothing is more mood elevating for me than putting myself at ease by categorizing my depression as what it is: a circumstance that will pass like a satisfying fart in the wind. I’m super grateful that I don’t experience the lasting, debilitating major depression and comorbidity that some people live in their whole lives. I have crests and waves instead of endless valleys of the shadow of death. So I can couch my moments of lows as what they are—gas that will pass. And my strong unwavering love of God helps me with downshifting into automatic “fake it til you make it” mode until I am no longer in the dip.

Tony Toni Tone and Raphael Saddiq. Issa consistent jam. I have NO EARTHLY IDEA why God allows this specific music to be so healing to me, but ma’ams and sirs. Listening to endless repeats of StillRay lifts up my bowed down head. There’s a playlist somebody made on Youtube that blesses my soul. And it is not church music. It is every jam I ever bobbed to between 1979-2017. On me. I can literally bop myself outta the clouds. Dru Hill Beauty. Tony Toni Tone Whatever You Want. D’Angelo Lady. Solange Cranes. I literally sit in my car, put that joint on bluetooth and rock. Listen to it. Issa jam. I feel the weight lifting as Mint Condition croons Swangin. Life. Restored.

Buying something pretty. I ain’t no shopper. At all. But forcing myself to walk into a store—this time it was freakin ROSS DRESS FOR LESS—and buying two incredibly flattering shirts makes me remember how not isolated I am. New boots. Perfect manicure. Just right dress. I start looking forward instead of inward where the trouble is. Because that is where my trouble always is. My own brain beating me at the game of life before life can even issue a challenge. After buying something new that fits me, I am forced to engage my closet, look at the beard I’m currently growing and tweeze, shave my dusty looking legs. I feel a care coming on out of feeling basically nothingness.

A sweet red wine blend. I don’t drink much at all anymore. I think I burnt myself allaweigh out a ling time ago on liquor based drinks. But the doldrums seem to succumb to a nice room temperature red. Yep. Room temperature. All you wine aficionados can fight me, but I like my reds with very little chill on em. One good six ounce glass of red wine has the same effect as an expensive therapy session. I am a weirdo, so I look at it, contemplating the color. The tang. I usually don’t even finish it; I just pour it out. The comfort is in the act—the thought, the purchase, the pour.

Intentional telephone calls. Everybody who knows me knows I hate phones. Phones are in my top five of hated things (Satan, fake people, time wasting activities, phone calls, and nosey people). But when I feel myself closing in on myself, I pick up the phone and initiate contact. I call my mom. My grandma. If it gets really rough, I call my friends who talk to me for a while because they know something is wrong if I called instead of texted. I force myself to small talk, to engage in a kind of human contact that tends to drain me otherwise. But in cases of darkness, a negative and negative make a positive. Again, that kind of simple act pulls me outside of my own mind long enough for me to reenter carrying the torch of someone else’s light.

Social media breaks. The interwebs will have you outchea hating your life if you’re not careful. While I am not an envious person at all, my dark moods have me using other people’s public lives as a bludgeon for my private one. I don’t measure up; which is super degrading and silly since my personal mindset is that my only competition is myself in my life. But depression will have me comparing my life to someone else’s—and in this new age of connectivity, I don’t even be knowing these folks! So I disengage. Depending on how bad it is, I take a week or two to reset my perception. Is it all really that bad? Or have I just fallen into a psychological rut reading this news and following this person? Have I taken on too much life?

Writing the hurt away. You would think that I would write more when I am in a light space; not so. My verbal proliferation comes at a cost. It seems the thoughts flood me to a degree that sometimes I cannot write them fast enough and I lose prose and poems. My best work flows from the tight rope space between dusk and dawn. I have scheduled out weeks in advance; if I wanted to, I could do 31 days in a row easily. My mind attempts to purge itself, so I vomit on the page. I can go on and on about one thing until some other thought explodes and I’m off on a new tangent. The relief when I finish writing is almost palpable. I could cry. Of course, I can always cry. But I mean like tears of joy.

I been self caring the heck out of myself these past few weeks because I don’t want any meds. I am seeing an improvement; my kids aren’t trying to hug me every five minutes and I am not hurting as much. I bought some tea and fruit and made veggie soup and stuff to help pull myself together. As we sing in the baptist church: every round goes higher and higher.

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