I’ve recently started reading Persephone Ascends’ blog. It’s about coping with depression. I love her writing and her honesty. I also love how she talks about flourishing within depression. Accepting all parts, the darkness and the light.
The legend of Persephone and Demeter resonates very strongly with me: back in 2010, when I was first starting to deal with the worst of my Daddy/Mommy issues, one of my great therapists re-told me the story. How Demeter turned her back, and in that moment, Persephone was abducted to become Queen of the Underworld. After much misery on Demeter’s part, plunging the earth into Winter, she negotiated that Persephone be allowed to return, as long as no food had crossed her lips while she was in the Underworld.
Alas, she’d eaten a pomegranate pip.
And so, for part of each year, she return to rule the darkness, and the earth cycled into Winter.
My therapist mentioned that although the legend generally emphasises the Persephone rising bit as the hopeful part, what also happened was that Persephone became mistress of the dark, and that gave her power. Fear of the dark didn’t drive her: she was its Queen.
Here’s what our modern-day Persephone says on her ‘About’ page:
I have struggled with depression several times before. Occasionally it has lasted weeks or months, sometimes only a few days. I would take it seriously, but when it was over I would forget about it.
This time it is different. My depression is more severe. Yet, I feel more optimistic.
Why I believe this time I will be successful in recovering from depression:
- I am reaching out for help, instead of retreating into myself. Family, doctor, psychologist, medication, friends.
- I am learning to live with depression, integrating it into the successful part of my life. Before when I was happy, successful, confident, I would forget about the times I was depressed. I would throw out old journals, get rid of self-help books, move on from friendships, destroy photos. I rejected the depressed me. This time I recognize and accept that, like Persephone, I will have cycles of light and dark. That is my life. I will accept it, and live all parts of my life with compassion, beauty and meaning.
- I am using the depression to grow, develop, bloom, discover all my sides. It is a rich manure.
- I am drawing on all my past experiences to help me understand what is happening now, to help me cope. Revisiting and recycling. Art, music, yoga, functional toning, educational theory, literature, writing, reading, reflecting, teaching, friends, family, medical professionals.
- I learning to live in the present, to be mindful and aware, to make meditation a daily part of my life.
- I feel secure: loving family, medical help, cosy home, secure job, good friends.
- I am strong. I am older and have had successes that help me recognize my strengths. No matter what I have to face, I know that I have a strong core.
- I won’t forget. I may move on, but I won’t reject the depressed parts of me.
- My goal is different. This time my goal is to live well and function fully while integrating all parts of me, the hidden parts that I have walled up and the successful, public side of me.
She is working towards wholeness: integrating the shadow and light. If we don’t do that, we are doomed to be controlled by our shadows, without even realising that’s what’s going on.
As my friend Leanne said the other day: it’s only when you get clear that you realise how unclear you were before…