Category Archives: depression

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.

A life of joyless obligation

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Damn.  I’ve depressed myself further by the mere title alone.

But sometimes it feels like that.  Work is most definitely a joyless obligation.  It’s a paycheck.  A good one at that.  The benefits are also good, along with a ridiculous amount of Paid Time Off.  My boss isn’t an ogre, and lets me work from home one day a week without question.  I’m fortunate on many levels.  Yet, I’m bored.  Very, very bored.

My work at my dharma center has also become a joyless obligation.  This is not expected, nor is it something I have to put up with (unlike work).  Your spiritual path should not be a source of suffering.   The tendency is to blame the teacher for the lack of joy at the center.  She’s a damn fine teacher – knows her shit and her teaching manner is warm and inspiring.  It’s when she is interacting with her students that the problems begin.  Like us, she is a troubled human being with good intentions.   It is not her intention to come across as cold, judgemental and brusque.  But, she does.  And as a teacher, people look to her for warmth and acceptance.  That is not her strength.  So people are disillusioned and hurt and have fled the center, leaving only a small handful of us.  And it has become a drudgery.

Festival is just about over, and our teacher and Admin Director will be coming back, probably full of ideas and enthusiasm.   I am dreading it.  Really and truly dreading it.   For the last few months, my work there has been a joyless obligation.  I made promises though, so I felt obliged to deliver.  I don’t want to make any more promises.  I’m tired of holding that place up.  Something has to give.  There are options.  I just need to think and meditate on this more.

The relationship is pretty good right now, though there are definitely periods when it feels like a joyless obligation.  He’s trying to be understanding that I’ve been going through a hard time.  We’re going to take a weekend roadtrip up to the Gold Country.  The cats will be OK for a night.   It’ll be good to get away and stop stewing in my own juices for a day or two.