I've been living with depression throughout my adult life (probably before then too but let's let childhood stuff rest). It's not constant. It's more like a chronic disease with patterns of flare-ups and remissions.
The last few years -- between my mom's dementia and death, a close friend's imprisonment and death, too many friends moving away, etc. -- I've had more flare-ups of longer duration than usual. This summer has been particularly difficult, even with medication.
Recently I noticed that when I'm having a Bad Depression Day, doing massage often lifts the funk and fog of depression. I talked to some other massage therapists and discovered many of them have the same experience.
I worried about that, fearful that I was sucking the life force out of you with my hands to feed my sluggish spirit. Recently though, I was listening to a client talk about something very frustrating and painful and I noticed my spirit lifting (and not because I get off on other people's pain!). I realized this:
(warning: I'm about to go all metaphysical on you....)
When I am sitting in my "massage therapist" place (usually that little rolling stool in the massage room) I open my heart to each of you. It's the only way I can do my job well. I open myself to the present-moment reality of your body and your spirit. When my depression-waterlogged heart connects with yours I get re-connected to the larger world, to the community of human beings, and to the buzz of life force that is present in everything and every one.
It's like finally getting a cell signal in the deep woods.
Someone recently said to me "depression lies." And it does. The lie it tells me is this: I am all alone, I am not truly connected to anyone and my depression means I am unable to take part in or receive nourishment from the energy of life. I am broken. I will always be broken and alone. And I will always feel this way.
Depression lies but, wow, in the moment it does it very very well.
And then y'all come along. And you tell me the truth about your body, heart, and mind. And without even realizing it, you invite me to be alive and open with you. Even in its depression-waterlogged state, my heart recognizes that invitation and knows how to respond. My heart says "there, there's the energetic flow of life you've been looking for" and it jumps right on in with both feet.
It's not your job to bring my heart back on-line, to bring my soul back into the land of the living. It is definitely not your job to take care of me in your massage session! Your job is to be present to your own heart, mind, soul, and body. To be present to massage and let it do whatever it can do for you.
But I gotta say "thank you" nonetheless for the sneaky little truth that along the way you help me do the same thing.
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