I'm linking this post up to the Tuesday's Gone blog hop. I really think it has a great message and deserves to be read some more!
Please welcome Kerri to my blog. She shares a very honest, real view of depression. I would like to thank Kerri for sharing this. Depression can be a part of life that is not easy to discuss. Please be sure to stop by her blog after reading this post and let her know how much you appreciate her sharing this part of her life with us. I can be seen over at her blog today as well.
Life. with. depression.
"Three Crosses" - Rembrandt
I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder 17 years ago, when I was 26 years old. I’d been seeing psychologists for a few years for counseling. At that point the depression was mild enough that I was able to live and function with it without other means of support. One day, however, while I was in the midst of a period of depression, I started crying at work and couldn’t stop. I realized I needed more help than counseling alone could give me, and I checked myself into the psychiatric ward of a hospital, where I stayed for 11 days. The hospital is where I was first given an official diagnosis of depression, and it is where I began taking antidepressants; I’ve been taking meds ever since (although there were a few times I tried to go off the meds but wasn’t able to function when I did).
Depression is hell. There is simply no way to describe it or understand it unless you have experienced it. I did not welcome it into my life, and even now when the depression comes, most of me wishes it would leave.
Until recently, my way of dealing with depression was to fight it as hard as I could and hope to someday be cured. Depression was a negative, undesirable thing that had to be eradicated at all costs.
That may be true to some extent, but I no longer agree with it wholeheartedly. Over the years I’ve come to understand my depression well; it has companioned me for a significant part of my life. I do not mean I wallow in it; rather, I mean that I have learned to accept it as a part of who I am. I like who I am now, and depression plays a role in that. In spite of how terrible I feel when I’m depressed, I appreciate the gifts I’ve received from it. I was only able to view depression in this way after much time had passed and I could look back on its effect on my life. Depression has taken much from me, but it has also given much. I still hate how I feel when it comes, but I no longer see depression as the enemy. When it comes to call, I groan and complain about it at first, but eventually I relax and let it be there.
Henri Nouwen wrote a wonderful book years ago called Reaching Out, in which he discussed three movements of the spiritual life: loneliness to solitude, hostility to hospitality, and illusion to prayer. I am learning to be hospitable toward my depression. This is a very fine and potentially dangerous line to walk. I want to emphasize again that it was only after 15-ish years that I was able to have this perspective. Nouwen writes, “Hospitality is not to change people (or, in this case, things), but to offer them space where change can take place….Hospitality means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy….Creating space for the other is far from an easy task. It requires hard concentration and articulate work.” Does this mean I invite depression into my life? Absolutely not. Depression doesn’t wait for an invitation anyway. When it comes, I simply allow it to be with me even as I take my meds, see a counselor, and do various other things to keep the depression from turning deadly.
My faith plays a big part in this attitude of hospitality; without it I would be lost. It is only because God has given me tremendous love and hospitality that I am able to have love and hospitality for other people and things. And my communion with God has deepened as a result of my depression, opening a door to my inner self and enabling me to have a greater understanding, acceptance, and love for myself and for this God who is so much bigger, more mysterious, and more fascinating than I ever realized before.
Because this is a blog post, not a doctoral thesis, I will end here. However, depression is a complicated issue, and my ability to effectively write about it is limited. If you struggle with depression, make sure you let someone know and seek out ways to cope with it that are effective for you. You are worth it.
Thank you, Karen and readers, for your hospitality toward this post! I wish all of you well.
Kerri @ http://www.practicingcontemplative.blogspot.com/.
"Three Trees" - Rembrandt