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  • Writer's pictureBecky Aten (they/she)

Going Invisible

CW: This one is about depression and loneliness.


I started this yoga project for myself, but I keep forgetting this. I keep wondering what other people want from me, and I avoid putting anything out that I think no one else wants to read or watch or see. This has been my M.O. on social media-- post when I feel good, disappear when I don't. When I am feeling less than my best, I worry that I might do more harm than good by sharing my practice... but my practice keeps going no matter how I feel, and if I am to honor what I set out to do with this project, that means not disappearing just because I am not feeling my best.


At this moment, I am feeling depressed AF. My dreams have been about destructive forces, heat, anger, screaming, yelling, swearing... inside I am feeling like a tornado. This evening I stood looking out my kitchen window, a mug of chamomile in a death grip, trying to force a sense of contentment and joy by watching the trees against the sunset sky, and had a sudden impulse to smash that f-ing mug of tea into a million pieces. I did not feel calm. Instead of smashing my mug (because it was a mug I liked), I sat on the floor and cried.


So, how do I keep sharing my practice when I'm depressed, overwhelmed, exhausted, and feeling more like a rampant tornado than a gentle breeze of love and light or whatever a yoga teacher is supposed to be?


I think the answer is to just show up every day anyway and announce myself with confidence, even when I'm feeling more like a black hole than a shining sun.


Actually, that is not a great analogy. Black holes are not really dark at all; it's just that the light that crosses the event horizon never makes it out the other end, so it never reaches the eye of the observer. If you were inside the black hole instead of on the outside, it would be luminous. I don't feel luminous.


Maybe I feel more like dark matter. I stop interacting with the outside world and become invisible, but I still exist.


Dark matter is a misnomer. It should really be called invisible matter. The universe is primarily made up of stuff we can't see with our eyes or instruments (psst, like, 95% of the mass in the universe is entirely credited to dark matter and dark energy), and we can only barely discern its existence through deductive reasoning. We know that information is missing, but we don't know what that information is. We call it dark matter and dark energy, but it's only dark because it's not emitting, absorbing, or reflecting photons. It doesn't interact with the matter and energy that we can observe. It's not inherently dark, just invisible to direct observation, but it's out there and it's everywhere. To me, this is the epitome of loneliness; to exist everywhere but not be seen.


I don't think I am doing myself or anyone else a favor by going invisible when I'm depressed. I am not, after all, actually made of "dark matter." If I want to, I can still put myself out there and be seen, depressed and all. We have this idea that light is better than dark; that depression is better than joy, but they're both ends of an equally complex spectrum of human emotion and experience that are also equally valid. Depression is valid. Joy is valid. Everything in between is valid.


When I attempt to disconnect from myself and the world because I am feeling depressed, I send myself the message that I am not worth being around when I am not all "love and light," and that sends the message to other folks that they should hide when they're depressed, too. Disconnection is the opposite of yoga, but then again, you can't appreciate connection without experiencing disconnection.


I am not sure what it means to connect to my depression, but I also don't want to hide from it or hide it from others. So that's what I have for today. This project is for me to share my practice, and my practice today has been about sharing how I feel depressed. And guess what? I still feel depressed, though if I am honest, I do feel a little less lonely now that I am not pretending to be "dark matter." I wasn't expecting that.


If you feel depressed, too, know that your emotions are valid and you don't need to hide from the world and pretend you don't want to holler curse words at chamomile. You are not invisible, and you are absolutely worth being around, depressed and all. We both are.

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