Archive for July, 2020

Whisper Words of Wisdom

July 31, 2020

B

B- is for Bedroom. The bedroom is the place of refuge and the ground of defeat. It is the siren song when I lose touch with my soul. It is diametrically opposed in feeling and location to my office where I write. In my house my bedroom and office are parallel to each other. Choosing to go to my desk and write or choosing to retreat into sleep is one of the most important decisions I make in a day.

Standing at the top of the stairs with rooms on either side is a moment of reckoning, a measure of my dis-ease. It takes faith to choose the office, faith that I have something to say, something to bring to the world.

Of course, the bedroom is also a place of pleasure, a vessel for passion and the blessed place of conception. It is a place the heart wants to share.

The writing desk is a place just for me. It is a solitary pulpit where I address myself. It is a place for innermost wishes to be birthed.

Letter A

July 24, 2020

There is a minimum of two sides to every story. “A” has two definitions one for the inside and one for the outside. There is an inside and an outside of my depression. The outside, is my body, my genetic and hereditary make up and the dis-ease or sickness it carries. The inside is the reality of my pain.
 
Outside A is for Anti-depressants. Over the last year I’ve taken different dosages of Sertraline aka Zoloft.  I do not have a deep understanding of how this medicine works other than it helps to maintain a healthy balance of serotonin in the nervous system.  I take Sertraline pills every day and they bring about a different way of thinking and experiencing. For me it is very subtle change. I feel the chemical change as a lightness and clarity relieving a portion of the worry I carry. Having the medicinal support of an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) feels like gentle return to play and delight. When I was adjusting to the medication, I could feel joy taking root in my soul. I am so very grateful to have found a medicine that is effective at treating depression. Jane Kenyon says “We try a new drug, a new combination/ of drugs and suddenly/ I fall into my life again”[1]
 
         Medication also helps me to see others in a clear light. I see depression in places I didn’t before.  There are whole genres of entertainment and modes of expression that I can now see as dark and negative.  I can see depression in the eyes of homeless people or in my memories of how my father would retreat to his bedroom after a disheartening loss.  Having a keener sense of what others are expressing allows for compassion and ability to maintain healthy boundaries.
Ultimately, medication is the tiny spark of hope that depression doesn’t have to control my life. For me, anti-depression medication is life affirming.
 
Inside A- is for Anguish. The depressed person is in anguish. Parker Palmer said about depression:
“But there’s another kind of suffering that is simply and purely death. It’s death in life. And that is a darkness to be worked through, to find the life on the other side.”[2] When I am depressed, I feel like I am being pushed through a meat grinder. It is something to be endured. There doesn’t seem to be any meaning or higher purpose to this brand of suffering. Anguish is what I bring my therapist who abides the unveiling of pain that has nowhere else to go.

 
 

[1] On Being Podcast – The Soul in Depression
[2] On Being Podcast – The Soul in Depression

Readings

July 20, 2020
ABCs of Depression, Introduction by Patience Michaelson

ABCs of Depression

July 20, 2020

By Patience Michaelson

“The Master declares, ‘I’m A to Z. I am the God who Is. The God Who Was, and The God About to Arrive. I am the Sovereign Strong” (Rev. 1:2).

         This alphabet is a mix of stories and knowledge I have gained about myself and my thoughts about the dis-ease of depression in general. This is a living document that follows me as I change. It has contradictions and errors. It is a self-portrait and a telling of my struggle to survive in a world full of pain and suffering, it is not a self-help piece or a story about virtues. It has been my chance to question what depression is for me and why it is a part of my journey.

         Writing this abecedarian has helped me to map my feeling life and visualize my struggle with depression as a spiritual journey. The letters used are like the dots in the childhood game of connect-the-dots, when you get to the last number you see a picture of a recognizable shape. But here, it is the shape of my soul I am hoping to recognize.  I have found studying the Bible has inspired me to investigate faith and to discover my true north, using letters to find my way. My hope is that the letters illuminate a constellation that will help keep me on course, pulling me closer to Beauty. The key, however, is it takes much more than hope to get better from depression, it takes desire. You have to really want to see Reality as it Is and to give what it takes to move to a place where the view is clear.          I have been in treatment for depression for the last twenty years. I have had four therapists that I have great love and appreciation for. They all have saved my life and have helped me to grow and mature to find and give joy. Most of all, they have inspired me to be curious about who I am and to never ever, ever, ever, give up.

Cartoon is by Danny Shanahan and was Published in The New Yorker October 8, 2001