With no TV or internet to distract me, I spend a lot of time thinking. Just thinking. One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is how crippled I used to be by my depression. I also think a lot about the sea change in my own personality and life since I sought out treatment. My therapist in Jacksonville was good, she was no Freud or anything like that, but I didn’t really need someone to tell me that all my problems were somehow related to sex. A cigar is just a cigar. I needed someone to unload my problems on.
During our first session, she asked what I wanted out of the therapy. I told her I wanted to say what was making me angry (always a strong byproduct of my depression) and that I needed an independent person to tell me when I was right to be upset and when I was being a baby. I can’t begin to describe the weight that was lifted as I gained some perspective on my feelings.
I heard an interview with a famous person the other day, and she said that her depression was never gone, but it felt like a train that was coming, and all you could do was hop on and hope that you survived the ride. I couldn’t agree more. It’s not that I don’t get depressed anymore or that a couple years of therapy was a magic pill. But the lows are a lot more shallow and the train is easier to hold on to.
I’ve always found solace in nature, which is why I’ve basically spent my life outdoors. The sounds, smells, and colors of the woods are very soothing, and I can honestly say that I have never been depressed during a hike or camping trip. Going through therapy and addressing my issues led me to the conclusion that if I was happiest outside, then I needed to spend as much time in nature as I could. Hence my leaving Florida to come back to the Adirondacks.
It’s my way of making my lifestyle my therapy. The other major thing I learned in therapy was that I was really exceedingly normal. I am open to discussing my problems because I think that many people suffer day to day from mental demons or whatever you want to call it, and I hope that others can buck the stigma of needing to talk to a therapist. It took me about five sessions to realize that I had nothing to be ashamed of. But as I sat in the waiting room twice a week, I saw dozens of people come in and immediately put their eyes to the ground out of shame. I noticed it because I was one of them for a while. And how silly, to be ashamed of seeing a therapist when you know for an absolute fact that I am also there to see a therapist.
As I sit here writing this, the snow is falling again, and there’s about an inch on the ground. It started raining around four this morning, and changed to snow sometime after I fell back to sleep. The new porch roof did well in the rain, and the new floor makes the porch feel much, much larger. It’s a gray and dreary day, cold, windy and wet. And I couldn’t be happier.
Justin Levine is living off the grid in a cabin in the Adirondacks with his dog Pico and blogging at Middle of the Trail.