In the middle of February, a family member was hospitalized, and since then, this individual has had to make very difficult, very important decisions. I spent about two and a half weeks going from work to the hospital to home and back again. Martial arts training was hard to come by; blog entries and all creative work lost their importance. As we learned more, the feeling of helplessness became overwhelming. Sadness changed to full on depression. Going to work, hell, just getting out of bed, became almost impossible. All of my energy and motivation went to doing the normal everyday things like eating or leaving the house. Don’t get me wrong, I went to work, but it was a fight against apathy at each moment. It still is. I’ve adjusted to the news, but it doesn’t change the sadness. It doesn’t change the feeling of helplessness. Not too long ago, I returned from a six day vacation visiting my sister and her family for my birthday. It was filled with wine, Cajun food, nieces and nephew, laziness, relaxation, my sister, my brother-in-law, my father, and birthday pie. Even with all that goodness, I’m still depressed.
This has been a difficult blog entry to write. Depression is a topic that every writer discusses in one way or another, and I feel there isn’t much to add. Really, depression is such a difficult and – sadly – boring subject because it both commonplace and intensely unique. We all know what depression is, and yet we all experience it differently. For me, it’s a blanket that covers everything, and when I try to fight it, it smothers me tighter and tighter. But I continue to fight because what other choice is there. Two of my favorite activities, martial arts and writing lost their attraction when I was in the downhill slide into numbness. Both of these activities have also been my lifeline. Of course, my wife and friends have been supportive and fantastic during this time, but they can’t heal me. They can’t do the work for me. I have to help myself. Martial arts and writing are the tools that I am using.
During the eighteen days that I was visiting the hospital, I think I got about seven hours of martial arts training. Considering that since January I’ve been training eight to thirteen hours per week, it was a huge change for me. Really, I didn’t even want to train those seven hours, but I told my friends that I would show. I made a commitment to go, and those few hours were such a relief. They provided time to get out of my head, to burn off the energy accompanied with feelings of helplessness. But as soon as I left the mats, reality would crash in upon me. I couldn’t write a blog post. Recording notes from classes was tough enough without having to craft full sentences.
This happened right as my blog was growing, and I had begun dipping into YouTube creations. My creative side was in full swing, and it hammered to a stop. I do not regret that at all. Time is precious, and a pause in the blog and in my training isn’t a big deal in the long run. I constantly say that the martial arts is a lifelong journey, and these past few months have shown the truth in that. I’m slowly getting back into a rhythm of writing and posting. At some point this year, I’ll have to drop it all again. I’m going to try to plan ahead so that there is no interruption. I love this blog, and I love interacting with the online martial arts community, which I do through this blog and various forums. It’s just that I love my family more, and when you know time is limited, you take advantage of every opportunity to be with your family.
Re-reading this post makes it seem like this bump in the road is about me. It’s really not, but I can’t say that it hasn’t affected me. While waiting for the other shoe to drop, I am getting back to my life and training as much as possible. That’s another reason to love the martial arts. When I’m return to class, I always hear a “welcome back.” It’s why I return, and when life interrupts again, I’ll rest in that pause, take care of what is required, and then return to martial arts.