by Rachel Creager Ireland
My sister Melora Creager is doing a project about suicide and overdose, and she asked for input from friends who have been affected by these tragedies. I sent her the post I wrote last fall, Black and Blue, and You, which was a letter to a person I knew who committed suicide many years ago.
In the letter I mentioned that I needed to prep the garden for winter, and this week, as I re-read it, the garlic I planted at that time is just coming up. The ground is bare, and if you didn’t look closely, you might think it dead. We’ve had an unusually cold winter, with plenty of snow, but to the winter garden, snow is just melting water. Look closer, and you can see the deep green shoots poking their way out of the dirt.
I’ve suffered from depression all my life, and in my forties I am just beginning to manage it effectively. I’ve escaped the clutches of fear, anxiety, anger, and despair, some days by riding them out; some days by naked willpower. I’ve learned that peace, joy, and gratitude reside within me. They are always here, but I have to choose to tap into them, no matter how seductive the darkness can be.
When the days are getting shorter, and everything appears to be dying, it can be tempting to give in to the darkness, to curl up and wither with the countless fallen leaves. Planting in fall is an act of faith that the earth will continue to spin. Nothing can stop the cycle of the seasons. Even when all I can manage is to hold on and ride it out, winter eventually dissipates and life wins.