Something is missing

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The only way I can describe my current mood these days is as depressed. Depending on which online screener I take, I am either moderately or majorly depressed. And while I have made an appointment with a Kaiser shrink to discuss medication, I’m not fully convinced that that is the answer. Unlike my previous depressions of my 20s and 30s, which were just scary and meaningless, this one feels like it is telling me something has to change.

The last decade things have been very, very stable. Same employer, same boyfriend, and my free time was filled with my Buddhist studies. It all felt comfortable, and my Buddhist studies made it feel meaningful. I tried to practice contentment. I tried to practice patience. I was able to smooth over some of the rough edges of life through dharma. I justified sublimating my own needs by thinking I was trying to eliminate my self-cherishing. The boyfriend became a practice in patience, and cherishing others. I would do things to make him happy even though I wasn’t particularly into certain activities. But, now, I have forgotten what I actually enjoy doing. What gives ME pleasure. I feel lost.

Being a miserable Buddhist is like not being a Buddhist at all. When people come to the center and see me stressed and miserable, what kind of example is that? It’s not the dharma that is making me unhappy. I love the dharma, and I love Geshe-la. It’s all the crap that gets between me and that that is making me unhappy. I’m not buying the bullshit anymore that the best way to help others is to help the Center. As much as I desire the support of a sangha, and being able to support them myself, to make the Center the center of my universe doesn’t feel right anymore.

I need to find something that fulfills my desire to help others, and to do so in a way that is also enjoyable for me. I need to be able to start saying “no” without guilt. Neither my teacher nor my boyfriend want me to miserable. They are adults and can find ways to make do without me. Selfishness is not point. I can be of no help to anyone if I am depressed. Taking medication will only make the intolerable tolerable. Things have to change.

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3 responses »

  1. I sympathize with your feelings of needing to help others in your own way. Buddhism use to be a minor family thing, now it’s a major project of mine in college. Because of it’s minor role in my childhood and the informality it now has, the sangha is almost completely removed from my life. Given that, I’ve always had to help others outside of the sangha. Thankfully, my friends give me enough opportunities for that!

    Have you found anything yet that engages you in a meaningful way? Also, have you read Thich Nhat Hanh’s stuff on Engaged Buddhism?

  2. Thank you for your comments. Yes, things have started to shift – as things are want to do. 🙂 I’m looking into volunteering as a crisis counselor on a suicide prevention hotline. After I saw the movie, The Bridge, that idea resonated quite deeply with me. Now, if the volunteer coordinator and I can stop playing phone tag and actually connect . . .

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