What is Vitality?
Vitality is the feeling of being alive, and of being able to experience emotions, connections, and meaning.
Depression is the complete absence of vitality. When I wrote yesterday that I have been ‘depression-free’ for ten years, that does not mean for ten years I have been full of vitality.
When Did I Regain Vitality?
Little by little. There was no ‘vitality’ switch to flip. The first few years of recovery went by emotionally numb, generally speaking. I was still drinking & smoking weed during that time as well, which, subdues real emotions.
Major life events can charge our vitality, if we are able to allow them to. Here are a few positive examples:
- I remember the day I got back together with my (at the time) future wife. Since our breakup, I was wandering listlessly in search of love. I can still feel the electricity of that phone call.
- I remember the day I graduated from college, more than ten years after I began. At that point, graduation wasn’t about a degree. It was about finishing what I had failed at the first time.
- I remember the day my first child was born. To think that we created her, and that she survived a risky surgery without a single cry was overwhelming and magical.
As each of these life events came to pass, I grew. I grew more able to experience them, to open myself up to them, and to let them take over me. Little by little, I learned not to control my emotions. While I was unlearning ten years of hiding, I was also learning to feel alive.
Most recently, I started writing. I was not ready to blog ten years ago, or even five, or two years ago. But I am ready now, because I am more alive than ever before.
The Problem With The Middle
Life runs along an emotional continuum. On one end lies depression. On the other end lies vitality. Somewhere in the middle lies safety.
Life is not always love and newborn joy. Sad life events such as death or illness are a part of vitality as well. To be able to feel pain is to be alive.
When we are depressed, we can’t feel joy or pain. That’s not a place to be.
Many of us go through life safely in the ’emotional middle’. We never take any risks. That was me for the first five years or so after my major depression. One purpose of writing now is an emotional outpouring that I suppressed for a long time. That’s me moving out of my middle.
Moving towards vitality is risky. We can get hurt. We can feel terrible. We can lose it all.
I don’t want to be in the middle ever again. I like it here on the edge. I’ve only just begun to experience life. I can’t wait to see how far I can go.