Since I was a small child, I have suffered bouts of depression. Most of the time I muddle through but a few times it has been crippling: the kind where you spend months in bed, looking down at yourself and thinking, “JUST GET UP. JUST DO IT.” But you don’t. Because you can’t.
I’ve been in remission for a couple of years since my last big black hole, and I have a new medication combo that is working very well. I’m working, I’m up and about. By and large, I’m good, even though this past year has thrown more garbage my way than I care to discuss.
Recently, though, I can feel the Black Dog skulking around the edges of my emotions. Meds are keeping me upright, but I’m not finding a lot of joy lately. It worries me.
Particularly, what worries me is that the very first symptom I notice when things are starting to turn south is that my spiritual life dries up. I don’t notice the daily natural occurrences that used to bring me happiness. I don’t take time for ritual observances. My Focus (altar) goes untended.
It’s paradoxical, because ritual would do me a lot of good. But when I start hearing the Authoritative Liar say, “what’s the use?”, more often than not—and like it or not—I listen.
For those of you who don’t suffer from depression/anxiety, btw: be grateful. It is a miserable, chronic condition and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
So what brings me to the keyboard today is to try to problem-solve this. How do you make yourself go through the motions of spiritual practice in order to re-prime the pump and get reconnected?
Any of my fellow sufferers have any ideas?
And for the rest of you: do you ever experience Dusty Altar Syndrome? What do YOU do to reengage your practice?
Written by Mark Green
The Spiritual Naturalist Society works to spread awareness of spiritual naturalism as a way of life, develop its thought and practice, and help bring together like-minded practitioners in fellowship.