I’ve been away from my desk, on a journey of sorts — up the down staircase, it seems. One step forward, two steps back (or three steps back and down depending on the day). My journey began in late February on a flight to Vegas. But, what happened in Vegas did NOT stay in Vegas.

Within hours of arriving, my companions and I began to show symptoms of a respiratory flu. This virus lingered for weeks and forced me into retreat just as the primary elections were kicking off around the nation. My fatigue left me unable to focus on my work, so I turned on the TV, watched too much news, constantly scanned social media, and relied on talking heads for entertainment. For some odd reason, I tried to keep pace with the politicos and convinced myself I should absorb the information, sift out the mis-information, and offer up an informed opinion.

Big mistake! The more I listened, the more anxious and irritated I became.

Generally speaking, I am not a cranky person, so this after-effect of the flu truly puzzled me. It seemed that everything and everyone set me on edge, and irritation quickly turned to anger. I felt myself spiraling further down the rabbit hole and decided to stay away, to surrender, retreat and suffer through this on my own. At one point I wondered if the inflammation had settled in my brain; my work remained so elusive.

That’s when writer’s block set in, and from past experience, I expected a deep and long depression to follow. Dark thoughts pulled at me and I succumbed to gravity. Emotional gravity — a small voice spoke inside my head. At that moment I experienced a keen awareness and realized that emotional gravity pulled me downward, that I allowed the illness, the fatigue, and anger to press upon me and keep me down.

Hitting bottom is never fun (I’ve been there before), so keep a pact with myself, my family, my doctor and a few of my closest friends. This pact is simple, and if you experience depression, I encourage you to create a similar pact with people you trust.

“I will seek help when warning signs appear, and you have permission to intervene, if necessary.”

Early on one of my WiseTide readers (and teachers), Jane, wrote to me indicating that she understood this darkness, this shadow energy, this emotional gravity. She offers me a gentle reminder — create a ritual each morning and honor my good, my bad, and all my ugly:

“My thoughts turn into words and all stem from my morning meditation…do I start my day centered and at peace with myself? Knowing my good and all my ugly? Accepting it all? Wondering what will come into my life that day? Knowing the energy I’ve gained through meditation affects not only me, but the person scanning my groceries, or the driver that cut me off to the neighbor that appears to be stuck up, but really is just insecure? When I remember to meditate, I have more awareness and love for myself and therefore I can roll with life and give some away.”

Intellectually, I know this. I know my ugly is with me at all times. I am familiar with the darkness at the bottom of the well so should not be afraid. I also know that as a creative person I need to be conscious of the emotional gravity that surrounds me — yours, theirs, and mine. The collective power of emotions is real and can alter the course of my day, my week, my life. A new task will be understanding the various tones of emotional gravity and using them to ground me rather than define or harm me.

As I follow Jane’s advice and return to daily prayer and meditation, I feel the anger shift. The emotional tone lightens and a more neutral and positive attitude flows. I will not forget or repress my ugly; her need to express herself is a constant and necessary part of my personal journey.

I begin my climb up the staircase into the light and find reward. When I emerge the spring storm dissipates and sunlight falls on the rose bush outside my window. For this day, this moment, I am blessed with a renewed desire to let the words fall onto the page.