You know that feeling you get, right after a really long, hard, cry–suddenly something in your body unlocks (for me it’s across my chest, my heart) and then shoulders drop and everything feels incredibly calm and clear?

It’s possible to sit with sadness, and let it bring you to that place. Not busying with stuff, not running about, but just sitting with it, camping out in front of the computer watching instant downloads on Netflix, reading books, taking naps, avoiding folding the laundry.

I believe that we need these places–these unproductive places, these places where seemingly nothing is happening. “But Kate,” someone might say, “If someone is severely depressed, and they start doing what you’ve just described, it will only get worse.”

Ah, but there is a difference between sitting with something, which is a highly active process despite its seeming lethargy, and being mired in a severe depression. In case you’re thinking next time a sad space comes you’d like to try out the “sitting with”, here’s a few key pieces:

Sitting with:

  • Conscious of and willing to reach out for help at any time, and committed to doing so if the feelings get too overwhelming.
  • Setting up ways to check-in with oneself (i.e., “I’m feeling sad/resistant/frustrated; I’ll check in again in one hour to see how I’m feeling and if I feel ready yet to do something that might lift me out of that.”)
  • Openness to trying new things.
  • Willingness to feel the feelings as they arise, without denying them or shaming oneself for them.

 

Yesterday, I was feeling sad. I painted for hours. I listened to Krishna Das and the soundtrack to Vicky Christina Barcelona. I painted past and through lunch. I literally forgot to eat. Then I finally did eat and there was a letter in the mail that opened my heart and as I read it, I cried big, hard, long tears while holding it and sitting on the couch.

When I was finished crying, something in me was unlocked, and the first thing that I wanted to do was make this video.

I had such fun making this video, and it felt real and funny and true. It came together in about an hour, which is super fast for me with video making of this kind.

I share it with you, in the hopes that if you are going through a raw or tender place right now, it inspires adventure, or that you know you are not alone (you are never alone), or that you laugh, or that you feel the urge to go wake up your cat to pet her cute little nose. Something.

I love the last line of the song: “Even breathing feels alright.”

I feel like I can breathe, again. Turns out it was me who needed to give myself permission.