I was reading over on a friend's blog, cypress and fern, and it has caused me to think some about depression. When I have faced my feelings of depression with courage and an open heart to listen, it has ended up being a very good thing in my life. When I have taken the time to look at and answer the questions: What is it that I'm really sad about, or angry about, the answers have led me (eventually) to more freedom, more truth, and more ability to experience joy and practice authenticity with others.
But it seems in our culture most people think depression is something they have to "get over" or "overcome". Something to shove away, so they can get on with the business of their real life--rather than seeing it as part of the process that leads to their real life. Rather than paying attention to the message the soul is trying to send the mind and body. Rather than looking at it as something real and legit, something to pay attention to and pursue.
But I admit, the answers to these questions (What am I really sad about? What am I truly angry about, or afraid of?) can feel incredibly scary and overwhelming, especially to one who is new in this process and has never faced their personal demons down before. That's why it is so valuable--and probably even essential--to not try and pursue the answers all on your own. Good counselors have been trained to be a helpful guide along the way. And a good counselor does not tell you what you need to do and how to do it--they assist you to listen to your own soul and find the answers that are right for you.
For better or for worse, I'm a seasoned veteran in the ways of depression. And a seasoned veteran in following the questions to their answers, which I never could have imagined would be the truth. Answers that were so terrifying and horrifying, many times I thought I would be overwhelmed. Yet I was not overwhelmed. I'm still here. I hold on to the promise in the Bible that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overwhelm it: I have found this to be true. In the words of Corrie Ten Boom, "There is no pit so deep, that God's love is not deeper still." Jesus does not turn his face away from the vilest, most horrific forms of human evil and suffering. And neither should we.
I still struggle sometimes, but I know how to fight well. I still don't sleep well most nights. Sometimes I lie on the bed and my heart pounds with fear, despite the fact that in my logical mind I know I am safe now. There are others inside me who don't believe it--a terrified six year old, and a very angry teenager, a completely overwhelmed young bride, and maybe others besides. I still seem to face a wall in regards to physical intimacy, though now I understand I am not just crazy or weird. There are good reasons for my feelings and reactions, and I am only newly in touch with most of them.
But I'm finding places of freedom, joy, contentment and peace in my life which didn't exist before. I'm learning that it's OK to be me, with all my struggles, instead of imitating and pretending to be like others because I thought that was how life worked and what I had to do in order to have any relationships in the bright outer world. In order to have the happy family and the life that I saw others had and that I so badly wanted. I'm learning, step by step, with the Holy Spirit as the ultimate counselor and friend, and with gifted human counselors to help as well. God has led me very slowly and gently, so I would not be overwhelmed. And I am so grateful.