I am surrounded by thickened water, slogging through a pond or pool that has much more resistance than nature intended. It’s gray: rather than murky, like a pond rich with life, this liquid looks as dense as it feels. My sight is blurred by this near-liquid, and my thoughts slowed as much as my limbs. The desire to cry out is muted by a sense of futility even as it is muffled by the medium surrounding me. It is difficult to rise, to walk, to speak, to think.
Water is the element most often connected with emotions, and it’s the element that is perhaps most polluted by the presence of depression. Those who shared their experiences with me as I wrote Empty Cauldrons used water analogies frequently. Depression is a torrent, a still pool, a sucking swamp, a cold rain, an impenetrable bank of clouds, a thick fog, and capable of drowning those who experience it. Water’s life-affirming qualities are not the ones evoked in these discussions; it’s more Creature from the Black Lagoon than it is Stranger in a Strange Land or Dune. This is water when it brings sickness and death.
Each of the elements has qualities essential to life, and for that reason this experience of water can be transformed. Even though it may feel that water brings only woe during depression, water is central to healing. It is through tears that we humans have learned to release our most intense emotions. In depression we may become convinced that to let those feelings go is to lose ourselves entirely, but this is a lie. It’s an easy lie to believe, because the truth is a paradox: the more we let go, the more we find ourselves. “It’s okay to be sad,” Orion Foxwood told me; I would argue that allowing ourselves to feel sadness is necessary to being a whole person. Reject the lie that emotions must be suppressed.
One of the healing tools I am privileged to be able to use is a bathtub. Whether or not you find a bath useful for cleaning the body, warm water is a balm for spirit and mind. I write about how I use a particular set of stones for easing depression in my bath, stones that each have are known to support emotional health, and also won’t dissolve or fall apart in the tub. I include a ritual with which I have personally had success. Inspired by my interview with Kirk White, I also developed another bathing spell that’s intended to break depression, like a curse. Depression can present in many ways, which is why trying different approaches to address it is worthwhile.
What I cannot stress enough is that among the different approaches used should be techniques to address body, mind, and spirit. Spell-work is not enough. Always act in accordance by seeking professional help for this condition. Driving that point home, a spell provided by Kelden Mercury to me for this book will help in finding a therapist in a time of need.
It gets better, friend.