The sun is shining on this spring day in my local home area, the birds are singing, the sky is blue. Society may say ‘Be grateful’ or ‘You should be happy, what a blessed day!’ but mental health issues are not like that. Mental health issues don’t care whether the sky is blue or the sun is shining. Mental health issues don’t care if you have won the lottery or are married to the love of your life. Mental health issues simply don’t care either way what is taking place in your life. And I know this only too well.
If life was meant to be all sunshine and roses, there would logically be no sunshine or roses (well sunshine maybe, but bear with me). Logically speaking, if we had nothing but sunshine, no rain, no clouds and no storms, the roses and flowers would not grow. If the sun was shining all of the time, the lakes would dry up, drought would set in and in turn we may have problems with the ozone layer and as food would not grow, we would all starve. So logically… sunshine all of the time is not only an impossibility, but essentially dangerous.
And so what does this mean for humans?
If we lived a life where we were joyful, love-filled, peaceful, essentially ‘happy’ all of the time, then after a while we would grow uncomfortable because for our own sun to be shining all of the time, we would burn out. This sort of living cannot be sustained.
There can be peaceful while in the midst of chaos or turmoil.
There can be love while in the midst of sorrow or anger.
All of these are there regardless, but we cannot survive on sunshine alone.
When we have only the light-filled emotions, we don’t know them as light-filled. Without contrast we cannot know the ‘other’. Without the shadow we cannot see the defining shapes of nature or the shapes of our own or other people’s characters. So sunshine and roses, candyfloss and unicorns are not possible without clouds and dark skies, death and chaos.
So why do we think that we can control this natural way of life?
Because we find it hard to welcome what arrives at our door.
We may feel lonely and crave company and instead of embracing the lonely one inside, we drown in the loneliness because we resist it. We suffer because we push against what visits our home.
We may feel sad and instead of welcoming the sad one inside, we fight the sadness with distractions. We overwork, overeat, shop too much, watch too much TV, socialise too much all to try and fill the void where sadness or loneliness is appearing.
The sunshine and roses will come, but without the storms, rain and clouds we cannot have the ‘other’.
How Do Those Suffering From Anxiety or Depression Manage This Fact of Life?
By first practising self-care.
Learning to understand that what is arising is passing through, is not who we really are. It is just like clouds passing over, the real you is the sky, the clouds your emotions and feelings passing on through.
Listen to what you really need. Do you need to rest, sleep? Do you need to go out and meet people? Is the pain arising calling you out of your comfort zone to meet others? Discover what it is you really need right now.
Trust that all that comes up has its place. Even the pain can be seen as a gift as it draws attention to what is no longer working in your life. This is when we can go and get help. Be it from a therapist or counsellor, to seeing a doctor and getting the right medication to help you through your experience.
Accept that maybe life is not all sunshine and roses right now for you and that’s okay. Even if it’s painful it is okay. When we stop fighting against it, it doesn’t struggle us into a suffering place, so we can allow the energy of the experience to move and evolve.