While I’m aware that planets going in and out of retrograde is something that’s been happening before any of our time, without the internet growing up, I was way less informed about this process. You may now have that spiritual chick that you follow on Instagram who never forgets to remind her friends and followers that Mercury’s in retrograde and we all should tread lightly. It is said that Mercury rules all kinds of communication and code. This can include speaking and listening, contracts, travel, negotiations, etc. While Mercury is in this supposed “sleep state”, it isn’t wise to take on any endeavors ruled by it while it isn’t fully “awake” to help us see it through to successful completion. With it ruling so much, there is a sense of off-ness in our day to day while this process is happening. I can’t say if this wasn’t true when I didn’t know about it, but now that I’m fully aware and completely all in, I feel it in everything. 

The retrograde period this July is exceptionally strange. My overall feeling is off and I have been having a hard time doing anything, let alone getting anything done. Everything feels like a bit of a struggle. I haven’t really been in the mood to talk to anyone, so I’ve been spending a lot of time alone. I still haven’t been able to get myself to properly clean my apartment no matter how much I want to. Even emotionally,  I’ve been feeling very unbalanced and constantly questioning my value all of a sudden. My weekly therapy visits have started to shift to these really heavy dump sessions of all the negative shit I’ve been feeling, seemingly out of nowhere. I’ve been crying more than I have in a really long time, letting it all out in therapy and finding myself getting randomly choked up at the smallest things in my day to day. 

This, I continued to say, was a wild ass Mercury Retrograde. I said it over and over again. Sometimes with a laugh. A smile and head shake that said “whew, only a couple more weeks of this”. Until one day this past week, as I sat in silence, a question appeared in my mind. Am I depressed? I sat with the question and got curious about it, I wrote it down in my journal. I started to think of the times in my teens when I was labeled “depressed” (I haven’t called myself by that diagnosis since then). I thought about my behavior then. The way I would retreat on my own, fearing that I had nothing of value to say to others. The way I would let my room get junkier and junkier, some in my home thinking I was just lazy, but really, at times, I just couldn’t fix it. The negative thoughts and self-talk that crept in and out constantly. The “you’re not good enough” and “who even cares” thoughts. As I remembered it all, I was able to see the similarities in my current behavior. 

The difference, I think, is in the lack of what I perceive as sadness. When I was a teen, I was without a doubt pretty sad in those moments. Now, with all of my meditating and processing emotions in what I believe to be a healthy way, it’s like that sadness isn’t there. But in that silence, when I thought about myself as a teen, I did get a glimpse of some present sadness. Just muted. Sadness, like my anger, that I don’t give my attention to. I focus on joy. I stay busy and I keep my attention on living my life in a happy way. That’s all I’ve done for a number of years. So, in this space, what do I do with sadness? With potential depression? When I’ve separated myself so much from it. 

I decided that I’ve already learned exactly what I need from countless submissions to Mercury’s retrograde period. During this time, those of us who are all in when it comes to this portion of astrology have a bit of a cheat code. We know when it’s coming and what’s coming with it. As we get into it, we brace ourselves and nearly force ourselves into a presence. We are hyper aware of its effects on us and those around us. We see it as it happens and we have a name for it, and we don’t judge it. It just is what it is, and best of all, we know it won’t last forever. 

That gave me the thought that I can allow spurts of depression and even moment to moment sadness and anger to come in; I can experience it fully, not blame myself for it, not judge it, and work with it for the temporary time that it’s present in my life. I can extend compassion to myself and still guide myself into the places where I know I’ll find joy when I need it most. 

During the retrograde, we are careful and deliberate, fully aware and experiencing its effects. The best of us can do this without committing to suffering. Therefore, I know that I can experience all things in my life, for the sake of continuing to know and grow, even when that growth hurts. While I can accept that hurt for what it is, I don’t have to call it suffering. For every moment that I’m more aware and more in tune with who I am, I think I can call it a gift.