Barbara: I mentioned on Monday that depression has been a big topic of conversation with me lately. It seems many people around me are struggling with it—especially right now. And, yes, I’m sure we can blame the season in some part (certainly in Canada), but I also know that in all the cases I’m familiar with, there has also been a major life shift or change that has precipitated that low-grade, tenacious, and numbing persistence that’s known as “depression”.
I’m going to try not to make any pat, “uplifting” statements today. In fact, as I said to Deb, I’ve learned not to be a cheerleader through someone else’s pain. Not because I don’t deeply yearn to be of help or to shine light, but because I find that we all have to go through what we have to go through. And my shoulder or my reassuring smile—while useful and sweet maybe in the moment—is not going to stop or hold off someone else’s time of (excruciating) change.
Because here’s my theory—and it may sound banal or trite, but the thing is, in order for us to measure the merit of a theory, we kinda need to look at all the evidence and decide if we think it fits, or if we think it’s a load of bull (kindly phrased conflicting opinions are welcome!):
I think depression is the surest sign that we are in a time of transition. In every example I can think of that comes from my own personal experience with depression (and I do mean “depression”, not “clinical depression” or any other medical or chemical imbalance), or that I’ve been privy to through other people’s periods of depression, there has also been a meaningful change going on.
And change, for all its good and wonder and importance, is not easy. Especially if set off by a wracking, heartbreaking personal tragedy: the end of a marriage, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, etc. But depression usually sets in after grief or any other major outburst of emotion has had its way with us. I think depression is more the detritus of upheaval. To me, it signals that we have begun to work at accepting something. And that’s exhausting. Because acceptance is work, never mind that we’re also busy now mourning what we know we have to leave behind—which is of course, fundamentally, our “old self”.
How depressing is that? To leave behind that comfy old self we know so well?
The other depressing fact? Change often takes its sweet-ass time to do its thing...
So, what do you think? In your experience, in hindsight, has depression also marked important periods of change for you?
Deb: Since I read this, Barb, I have been searching for the quote one of my FB friends posted today about change and acceptance and I could not find it, but it was brilliant. Basically it said that if we always accept the fact that what is happening to us in the natural order of our lives is what is supposed to happen and as a result we do not fight it, that it will lead to a healthier way of looking at the changes in our lives, however painful. It said that the pain comes from resisting the pain. Does that make sense? I am paraphrasing but it totally resonated with me. Really moved me actually.