Tarot & Depression

Okay guys, this is one topic that I have avoided as long as possible. There is no getting awayfrom it. You're probably going to learn more about me than you want to.

Turn back now.

This is your only warning.

Depression affects people differently. However you experience depression or anxiety is yours and I am not seeking to invalidate that.

This post is about my own personal experience and how using the Tarot gave me some insight into what my depression was doing behind the scenes and gave me a warning just before the proverbial shit hit the fan. 

About three and a half years ago I moved for university and settled into a routine full time student schedule. I was dating and it was going pretty well. But that didn't last. I began to experience moments of incredible frustration and resentment. They came and went over the smallest things. It broke up first one relationship and then another and then another. 

As someone with trauma in their past, I tried to move beyond it without dealing with it, I didn't want to confront what I, on some level, sensed would be a very painful experience. I did start talking to someone at school, one of the counselors, whom I had met working my part time job one town over. It helped for a time but I kept skirting bigger questions. Every time they would pose a question that could lead anywhere near the pain I backed away. I wanted help but I didn't want to do the work. 

I put down the Tarot. 

In that time I felt lost, I became convinced that I was doomed to being an angry and volatile person. I lost all ambition to do anything. My grades took a dive. 

It wasn't until almost a year later that I picked Tarot up again. It felt like a lifeline and when I realized how long it had been, I was shocked. Anyone who knows me will tell you that my collection of cards, while not quite legendary, is substantial.

I began crafting spreads as a way to de-stress. Buying both The Deck of 1,000 Spreads and Barbara Moore's book of Tarot spreads. I started pouring my time into Tarot and about a year ago I met him.

My partner and I have gone through a lot to get where we are today but it wasn't entirely easy. One of the first things I did when we got together-because I am all around nosey-was sit us down and pull out the cards. 

Cups galore. Hindsight is 20/20, as they say, but at the time I was more interested in the fact that it seemed to be a passionate and emotionally intelligent relationship. Not the emotional life lesson that it would actually be.

It felt so easy. 

Until it didn't. 

Depression doesn't just vanish. It hibernates. I slowly started to feel irritation and anxiety creep in to my thoughts on a  pretty consistent basis. Intent that I would not be that volcano again, I stuffed things down. No surprise that the Tower kept haunting my readings. What I couldn't figure out was why the Hanged Man was constantly swinging by. This proved to be an Achilles heel, of sorts. 

If we do what we did, we get what we got. Pretty straight forward logic. So when I started to steam at the ears it was no wonder that my closest relationships suffered. I started to let my readings slack off again. I would hibernate in my bed as often as I could. Missing class in order to sleep in and avoid people. I thought this would help abate my torrid emotions and give me time to get a grip on myself. Punchline: it didn't work. 

There were hiccups in my relationship with my partner. In the beginning it was easy for us both to cling to ideas and coping methods we had stuck to long before we met. In my case, avoidance and bottling. I didn't want to acknowledge that there was hurt deep down and that it had to be dealt with. Then some things in our relationship had me reliving my past and I was staring the hurt in the face.

I had a choice.

Cut and run-which would allow me to run from the baggage too-or stay with the man I was already head over heels for and tackle this demon once and for all. 

The King of Cups is usually in control of his emotions, or that's the emotional facade he'd like to put forth. He's Lake Placid. Don't test the waters. Some days would be amazing and there would be laughter, love, and an ease that was reminiscent of when we first started dating. But again, I was only skimming the surface of the baggage I held. 

School started to wind down, we both graduated, and move back to our respective parents' homes. Suddenly I had more time to sit with myself. Shit. The Tower again. Something was coming down the pike and it was going to be a freight train. I kept thinking it was something about our relationship but it kept coming up with the Queen of Wands, my usual significator. Something explosive and the negative associations of the Queen of Wands as a jealous, loud, and easily fired up person. 

The Hanged Man. Again. 

Something. Had. To. Give. 

And then we hit the home stretch, late June and Gay Pride is in full swing. We had both been building a strong relationship together and with our friends. His friends that became mine. I had friends, after feeling rather alone-even if some of that was my doing. I couldn't wrap my head around it. Unreal.

But, I digress for a moment. The home stretch. My partner would be going overseas for two months. And I was, I am, excited for him.

I was also terrified to be left by myself. It's like that scene in the horror movie where you're alone in the dark house and you realize just a little too late that the monster is right. the fuck.

behind you.

But, I had committed to tackling my depression, my emotional baggage, and the scars of trauma. I kept using the cards, they kept telling me something was coming, something was coming. The High Priestess, whom I had deemed my personal stalker some years prior, due to her propensity for showing up in every personal reading I did for myself; continued to bombard me. Was her message one of assurance or was she scolding me? Would it be okay? 

I broke open. 

I wanted so badly to feel calm. What did calm even feel like? Shit. I don't know. I could walk others through meditations and they'd leave saying they felt great but try doing that myself and I was just as irritated as before. Everything began to irritate me. 

It was me against the world. Some days I felt every inch an island. Voices from my trauma often reminding me that they had been right all along, like some tragic Greek chorus.

It was around the time that I was sitting at a stoplight with my partner, the both of us embroiled in what I was sure was the fight, that I realized I was standing in the middle of the Tower watching the pieces fall down around me. 

In the Tower, the damn thing is falling down, there is no Hail Mary. You must fall with it. If you fight it, SPLAT. If you surrender to it, you may land somewhere "Okay adjacent". It's much easier to rebuild from one of those places than it is from the other. 

Splat Town or Okayville. Which one will it be? Last stop, everyone off. 

I couldn't sit there and unpack. I started clawing at the proverbial dirt and attempted to pull the damn thing out by the roots. I had to confront how afraid of facing my own pain I was. People didn't want to be around pain. They wanted upbeat attitude and spunk. I wanted the pain to stop. 

My mind found its own personal Knockturn Alley and I lost sight of anything but a way out that didn't include me facing down these demons.

Spoiler: there really isn't one. 

Yeah, partner and I had our individual shit to figure out, but that didn't mean we had to sling mud. Or rather, I didn't. My partner isn't the mud slinging type. He's much more "I see your side of it, so let's consider it this way, too." 

It made me feel all sorts of barbaric, let me tell you. 

I'm not sure I'm ever gonna be okay with the fact that I got so ugly while dealing with my pain. 

The Hanged Man. For a while now, I had been hearing from the partner that there was more to this and another way to approach my trauma/depression/personal hell. I didn't have to do it alone. 

But then he went overseas and I felt very alone. 

And I think part of me resented that. 

Resented him going. 

Man, that hurts to even admit. 

But...I couldn't let one person carry my baggage, I had to own up and heft the shit. 

Not HEAVY at all. 

So, I reached out. I leveled with the friends around me and they responded without hesitation. Of course I could call on them. I thought I had hit the High Priestess moment, the "you shall overcome!" part of this little sideshow. Nope. I told my parents. And coming out as depressed, at least for me, was only slightly less terrifying than coming out of the closet. 

To make a very long story short, I got my "it's gonna be okay" moment when my mom hugged me, tears in her eyes,  and then promptly demanded I follow through on my promises to talk to someone and re-evaluate the decision I made years earlier to forgo discussing medication with a doctor. 

If you made it this far, ya'll, this is it. The end for now. 

It's not always fluffy and magical, but sometimes it's the cards life hands you. 

Reminders to stop and assess the situation with grace, fall as gently as possible.

Let others in, not just their points of view.

Even if you're convinced you're an island, they can help build you a bridge.  

It may be coming down around you now but eventually things start to settle. 

And there, in the ashes, you find out who you are in the aftermath. After you set aside the fear, after you've diffused the anger, and allowed yourself the raw emotional honesty that you need to grow. 

Sometimes, you realize you were afraid of potentially losing people you love and care about when they finally see you crack so you stuff it down and you crack anyway. And they surround you with love and compassion and then you don't know what to do with that so you cry harder. 

But,

There is an after. 

The High Priestess will surrender the secrets to you, draw back the curtain and show you a path that you didn't notice before. You just have to be willing to walk it. 

It's scary. It hurts. 

But it's real. It's magic, of a sort. 

And I'm gonna be just fine, in time. 

It sounds cliché but I'm a sap deep down. 

I have to be. Because one day, I'll learn what it feels like to be calm.

And these howling demons will lie still.