Tuesday, 18 October 2011
The Ebb and Flow: Depression and Community
When I post the deepest parts of my heart, about depression, about desperation, my heart pounds as I hit “Publish.” It’s like taking the weak, pitiful child in the corner of my heart and putting her under a heat lamp. There’s comfort there, but the light. The light is so bright.
I’m so grateful that all kinds of people read here, but I don’t know how or whether I’ll be understood. I write it out and publish it to get some distance. It works. The lies and the struggle and pain aren’t so close; I’m not protecting them anymore.
Writing it out takes away a lot of their power. That’s why I do it.
But each time, I have to fight a strong impulse to set it all right again, to say that depression stuff was just a passing episode, no big deal, don’t worry about me.
There’s some truth there: I’m not where I was on Friday morning. But that doesn’t mean I won’t go back there this afternoon. (Depression seems so arbitrary, doesn’t it?)
But even though I might feel embarrassed, even though it’s a raw, vulnerable place where my wounds are on display, telling the truth is always worth the price. For me, living authentically is giving voice to the real, speaking it, diffusing its power over me.
And then, when my sisters and brothers so generously give me their love, their experiences, their hope — it’s like we’re a little community of truth-tellers and we’re building an altar together, these stones of struggle and pain that look at once familiar and unique. We all long for the day they will go up in flames, consumed by love, but until then we stand together and look at each other as if for the first time. When we build it together, there’s no reason to hide.
And I am thankful.
The gratitude comes in waves just after the darkness, when I look out the window and I’m astonished at the colors in the sunrise. When I hear birds singing their hopes of spring, when my heart can’t help but turn toward the light. Today, I live in the gratitude, and am astonished to feel real joy. Tomorrow, I may stumble backward again.
I know I’ll deal with the ebb and flow of depression for a while yet, some hours or days will be dark, but more and more will be light and color, a kaleidoscope of you, my friends. Your light blending into mine, bringing me back to life, your prayers lifting me up. Our stories are now woven together, stronger than the threads could have been separately.
Just stand back and look. With tears in our eyes we recognize each other and see ourselves, the pain and the joy and the love and the heartache all woven together, a swirling tapestry of hope, and we realize just how beautiful it all is.