Mental Health Monday – Belonging Spaces


Before I talk about belonging spaces, I would like to briefly introduce my philosophy about depression. No matter how many therapy sessions you go to, no matter how many medications you take, depression is always there, just below the surface, trying to control you. You’re job is to control it. We all have different levels of depression, but I do believe that recovering from depression is a continuous recovery. It’s not the twelve steps of alcoholism, but I have a similar philosophy to that, in that I always need to be aware of the ebbs and flows of my mental health, and pay attention to when I need to bring extra coping mechanisms into play.

One of the things that I learned as I began my climb out of severe depression and into depression recovery was that I needed a belonging space. We have a decent sized house for our family, but none of the spaces were solely mine and in the depths of the worst of it, I spent a lot of time sitting in my car. It was quiet and I was alone, but it was also bleh.

I don’t drink coffee, but I do like Starbucks. I could nurse a cup of tea for about an hour and recoup some of my personality there.

During the worst of it, I also found that lists helped me get through the day, and I still  find myself revisiting them.

These are some of my tools that I will talk about later as I post about suicide prevention and prevention awareness.

One of my favorite belonging spaces is somewhere I used to visit during the worse times, but I still go there today for a smile.

Before I began on my depression medication, before I even new there was a problem with my mental health, I was on medication for high blood pressure, so I needed to pick up my meds at my pharmacy every month. When we moved to our house several years ago, I did not want to switch from our small town family run pharmacy to a big box drugstore chain, so I travel about thirty minutes to get there, once a month.

Each month, without fail, I’d travel the thirty minutes, and take a quick tour of the town, our old apartment, downtown to the street that has the post office and city hall, but inevitably, each time, I would find myself at the local natural attraction, the Falls.

I have never liked water, especially big bodies of water, but I have always enjoyed waterfalls, no matter what their size. For some reason, I find them soothing.

Over the years, the surrounding viewing areas of these falls have been built up, and they’ve added two new parks with historical kiosks and benches, and all sorts of floral and fauna. It’s just beautiful.
Instead of spending fifteen minutes sitting in my car in silence, I would get out and walk around the smallest park, sit on a bench, and listen to the water rushing over the side and splashing at the bottom, into the river. I’d close my eyes, and not think about anything. There was usually a cool breeze, and I’d let it blow over me, through my hair and across my closed eyelids. I’d breathe in whatever smells were there. It’s a city park, but it has such appeal. In front of me were the powerful falls, and behind me were the apartments, the former housing units of the nearby mills from the 19th century when these Falls were just as popular then as Niagara Falls is today.

I’d stand as close as I could, which was not very close, and I’d take a picture to post on my Facebook. Sometimes, I’d record the sound of the falls on my phone to listen to later.

This is my belonging space. It is sacred to me, and no matter what else was going on in my life or in my head, this place had, and continues to have a way of calming me, and letting me re-energize myself to go home and continue on until the next month; or at least until the next therapy session.

Before my corner office, before my visits to church, before my writing group, this was my space that held my hand, and squeezed my shoulders.

Try and think of your own belonging spaces that you can use to regroup and move forward. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or elaborate. I’ve used the corner of the food court at the mall. Give it a thought and be well, and please remember, you are never alone.