Letter A

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

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