There’s a ghost that follows me. It’s not quite depression – it’s more like a mix of anxiety and dysphoria that’s haunted me for as long as I can remember. It’s one of the reasons I took antidepressants for several years. Yes, I’ve been off antidepressants for as many years, and my website and blog might sometimes make it sound like I have my shit together. But I can assure you I don’t.
I do a ton of personal development work to keep my ghost in check. I meditate, I do yoga, I eat healthy, I get lots of sleep, I try to live my life in a way that honors what I value. But sometimes it’s hard. Like really ridiculously hard. It’s not like I get suicidal or anything (don’t worry!) it’s just that I seem to have to work hard to maintain some level of sanity in this world. And sometimes it gets exhausting. Sometimes I get tired of planning healthy meals, reading self-help books, and trying to “fix” myself. So sometimes I say “fuck it” and just let myself be.
These pictures were taken on a recent hiking trip to Coconio National Forest in Flagstaff, Arizona. My husband, son, and I moved here in September and lately I feel as though this move saved my life. I needed to make the move to the southwest/west coast for many reasons, but mostly for my physical and mental health. My husband for an incredible new career opportunity and my son for one of the finest educations he can receive at a classical studies charter school. Seasonal Affective disorder has played a big part in my depression and dysphoric mood over the years but has reared its ugly head in recent years, and in such a manner I could no longer ignore. Here in the southwest, the air is clean and dry, and I am no longer carrying the heavy darkness that has been my experience living in the northeast. This move has forced me to put effort into living and to remind myself of what’s good, what’s pure, what’s true.
But the truth is that sometimes my ghost sticks around for awhile. And that’s ok. Because the more I try to fight her, the more she digs in her heels. As Rumi says,
“This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.”
Elisabeth Pickle, Esq.
Attorney and Legal Mindful Consultant
Elisabeth founded Pickle Law, a boutique firm specializing in estate planning and business succession planning in Central and Southern Maine. In addition to her law practice, she teaches mindfulness and meditation to lawyers and other professionals who work in highly stressful occupations. She regularly speaks and writes about wellness, self-care and mindfulness. She also works with lawyers and law firms on stress management, work-life balance, career transition, increasing productivity and overall wellness. Elisabeth is a recent graduate of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course (MBSR) as modeled after Jon Kabat-Zinn’s program at The Center for Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester. She is a Certified Professional Coach and holds a J.D. from New England Law and a B.A. from Trinity University.