“Depression” is a rather popular word today; I would even say it is fashionable. Many people mention it, discuss it, complain about having it, and all of them have different symptoms – some experience aggression, some sleep a lot, some eat obsessively, some cry and fall apart. I am not sure if there is a specific set of criteria that describe a person with depression, so I do not know if I ever had what is actually called a depression.
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The event that pushed me into that state is now in the past, it made me feel quite awful and I used to be sure that the experience was negative. Today, I am grateful for it because of the healing process it made me go through. My doctor was not a person and not a therapy. It was a place, the most usual for everyone else and the most special place for me.
The depressive state I used to experience felt like the time had stopped, like nothing was moving. After a while, the lack of movement made me get up, leave my home and start walking. I honestly do not remember anything that happened on my way. I am sure that if someone watched me walk, they would be left with the impression that I was some kind of a zombie. I was moving with my brain on autopilot. This is how I ended up in a park.
What made my thoughtless movement stop was a tree. Actually, there were three trees growing out one spot. Two of them were quite thick and grew straight up. The third tree was thinner and bent at the very bottom, which made it almost horizontal.
Since the body of the tree was nearly parallel to the ground, it made a lovely natural bench. Tired from walking and a little surprised to have found myself in a park, I sat down and looked around. The park looked very ordinary. It had trees, benches, loans and some people. Through the blurry lens of my depressive state I saw them as shapeless blobs moving in different directions, even their voices sounded hollow. I closed my eyes feeling like they were of no use and this is when it started.
Suddenly, I felt something tickling my finger. It was an ant, carrying a piece of leaf, it ran across my hand since it was on the way, and headed somewhere along the horizontal tree. I followed the ant with a glance and saw another one, and another one. There were dozens of ants on the bodies of the trees. A little higher there was a big night butterfly, probably sleeping, waiting for the sun to go down. At the bottom of the tree I noticed a green caterpillar, folding and unfolding itself trying to climb up.
So much was happening on just several inches of the tree bark. I touched it, felt its rough and rugged surface. The tree felt alive, I patted it lightly, as if I was afraid to wake it up, a blow of wind swished its leaves, and it sounded like the tree gave a sigh. The wind brought voices, noises and sounds or the park. They had been around through the whole time, but my perception was closed. The wind made me hear, just like a minute before an ant made me see.
I froze and stopped breathing for a while – so many things were happening around, I did not want to miss anything. I wanted to see and hear a man playing frisbee with his yellow lab, a group of teenage boys laughing about something, two young ladies with a small child, an elderly couple on a bench, doves, butterflies, grass, trees. Everything moved, everything sounded. For the first time in many weeks the world was alive and so was I. The feeling of this clear awareness was so overwhelming that my heart started to race, I grabbed my tree-bench with both hands, as everything seemed to spin so fast, I felt like I could fall down.
For a second the movement started to be too much, looking for some peace I gazed up. The sky was gloomy. The sun hid behind a big cloud and made its edges very sharp and golden, a lonely bird hovered high above the ground. I was in between the stillness of the sky and the never ending movement of the earth, and I was aware of it all. This was the most amazing feeling, I felt it rising in me, tickling me from the inside and bursting out with a laugh – I was happy.
I stayed in a park till it got dark. I saw the settings change every second. I observed people coming and going, I watched bugs hiding in the grass, ants disappearing from the tree bark, I felt the wind on my face, I heard it in the leaves above me. The big night butterfly woke up and flew away headed into the evening. I got up and went back home, this time my autopilot was off. That day the most usual park became my most special place. Since that evening , I kept coming back there many times to watch it being absolutely the same every day and absolutely different every minute.