Revelation

December 14, 2020

R -is for Revelation. I think my body needs worship and I think depression is the hunger for a life full of worship. Eugene Peterson’s work has helped me to understand how we all reveal God’s plan through our heart’s yearning.

Eugene Peterson — The Bible, Poetry, and Active Imagination

Pro Choice

December 12, 2020

This letter is about choice, choosing to not give up. Life is full of suffering and loss there is no way around it. However, our suffering, our enduring can be a great gift to others. After my Father passed away all of my feelings were on the surface. A friend of mine said she could see a soul light shinning through my tear stained face, she said she would never forget that image. I was in the throws of grief, my soul was shedding. I had no energy for anyone or anything but somehow I was there for my friend, she saw what she was ready to see. She chose to be curious about my grief and I survive depression by being curious about what is possible each new day.

Q

Q- is for Quitting. Part of my journey through depression is married to the idea of quitting. There are pivotal moments where the desire to quit is so strong I can taste my craving for defeat and the release of all of my bodily suffering. The possibility of letting defeat take over my mind and body is like a prayer for death on the tip of my tongue. I stop and take notice of the choice I have, to just give up, release myself into a fall that renders me powerless, or to keep moving, to halt the prayer for destruction and wait for a sign of grace.

 I find I notice this choice when I am in my bedroom and I carefully raise each of the three oatmeal colored linen black-out shades making sure that the fabric folds are even and stacked in a way that they do not become wrinkled. I can feel a very slight stirring of curiosity in my heart that somehow breaks the self-destructive spell I find myself under.

Amazing Grace

December 11, 2020

”God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts to us in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world. C.S. Lewis The Problem with Pain

Something happened in my days studying to be a Waldorf teacher that allowed me to articulate the process of Grace. I was able to see that one’s survival is based on a process, some would call learning or in my case a relationship with Divine Help I recognize as love. Grace is the deliciousness of participating in daily life without really knowing how things come to be but being able to witness life exists without any help from us. Things just are, no interfering or intercessions, just this moment, this breath, this body, this noticing. There is a lightness to Grace that can fill us up and carry us along, through the pain and suffering that is our constant traveling companion.

P

text of poem: Fear Grabs me as The Horse Arrives, making this bodily existence feel like an Outrageous Shout! I hold up my hands and Fall int His Gaze, Warm Watery heaviness fills the Room of Mind. The peripheral vision of the Horse Reveals Everything. I become the Beat of His Huge Heart, I see what is Holy, Only Love, To Love I serve until I am gone

P is for Pain. Depression is painful. The brain registers emotional pain in the same way as physical pain. It is natural to avoid pain. When my daughter was in fourth grade her teacher told me that she was not getting what she needed academically. I felt the most severe pain of my life. It was gut wrenching. The teacher was in pain too. Her lip quivered, she seemed in a state of panic brought on by hopelessness. My daughter was not getting what she needed. It was that manifestation of my worst fear; that I would not provide for my child.

Becoming aware of what my daughter had been facing at school and the confusion of having a trusted teacher admit her failure made me feel alone and scared. My emotional health became secondary I know I needed to take action by looking for educational support and by becoming stalwart about her needs. I didn’t take into account my needs.  Deep down I was avoiding feeling the pain of betrayal. Depression can be a way to circumvent the anger of being neglected.  When my daughter was struggling to get her needs met, I wish I could have seen my own needs and not allowed depression to become a coping mechanism.

Advent Surprise

December 10, 2020

Hello Dear Readers,

I am very much enjoying Advent Blessings with my online Irish community at https://www.turasdanam.com/ It can be your community too, and might be argued already is. Sounds intriguing, right? Well, check it out! I am writing you as a homework assignment for https://www.turasdanam.com/product-page/advent-of-hope-solace-in-anxious-times. My homework is to do something everyday that brings light into the world, and my little light will be delivering a letter of the ABC’s of depression every day until Christmas. YAY! What you really wanted right?! Ok so here we go….

O

O- is for ominous. Depression feels ominous for those predisposed to it. Often depression comes after a particularly peaceful period. Depression can be like a storm on the horizon. You can see it coming but are helpless to do anything about it. When Robin Williams committed suicide, I was about to embark on a ridiculously luxurious vacation. My husband and I were able to convince a yacht charter company in Anacortes Washington to allow our family to take a very large 50 foot million dollar power boat for a two week cruise through the San Juan Islands and Gulf Islands in Canada. Suckers! These islands are a world-famous boating destination known for their pristine beauty.

My mother was coming from Indiana to join us and our two children who were happy to have family time, were healthy and relieved to have a break from school.  The weather forecast predicted the Northwest to have one of the best summers in years. On this perfect trip I slipped into a major depression. It lasted months. All I could think about was that Robin Williams, a man who made so many people happy and seemed to have it all was taken down by depression. I didn’t have a chance.

A poem about suicide:

Maine Stay

The first day of the retreat

I noticed her pomegranate red hair from across the room

I was eating dinner alone and suddenly felt sad

She smiled at me

A beautiful stranger I thought

Days flowed with stories

Of grief and loss

And to restore us

Maps and Paintings of

 Brightly colored birds

Trees starting to turn

Rockport Harbor petunias

Greeting cutters kayaks and cruisers

Golden milk lattes

In the Seafolk Café

And a birthday poem to share

The last day

When silence was lifted

The beautiful stranger and I

Talked about writing

I learned she was from Greece

Her accent echoed of Slavic mountains

Her face bronzed from Mediterranean sun

 “I am writing an abecedarian of depression.” I say

She looked interested

She asked: “How do you choose a word for each letter?”

Her Emerald eyes wide and bright

 “From experience” I shyly mumbled

Swallowed by shame

My eyes pulled down to the the rough gravel below

Made ready by deep searching

Laid bare by revelation

I returned to the conversation

“The hardest letter so far has been “S”

She daringly asked “Why?”

And

Panic

Shook

My voice

I stuttered, “S is for suicide”

She looked at me and saw my pain

I felt fires of love burning all around me

Graceful waters rippled

As close as a guardian angel

Bobbing around on color and light

I floated for a second

She smiled and said in a gentle voice

 “I’m glad you stayed”

 “I’m glad I stayed” I mumbled again

Pausing to taste the way the words felt

Questioning if they were true

I said again with a teary eyed smile

 “I’m glad I stayed too”

Everything shaking.

-Angie Alkove 10/19

Letter N

December 7, 2020

N – is for Negativity. Negative thinking can feel like safety and security. It is a strategy of focusing on the negative aspects of any situation so that whatever good that might also be there is a happy surprise. If one is optimistic then there is always the possibility of disappointment. The idea that “it could be worse” is logic that focuses on the negative. The positive alternative is to feel the wonder of creation. To be open to the mystery “that there is something rather than nothing” elucidates happiness. The spiritual work of John O’Donohue illuminates this type of joyful thinking.

Starting here I want to be loose, open, and interested in the people that join me in writing.

Starting here I want to marvel at the human voice and the color and brightness of eyes listening.

I will pay attention and not hold on to anything because I will miss the next moment.

I will listen, really listen, and will not think about what I will say or my opinion.

I will trust I am where I am supposed to be and that I am safe and loved.

I will keep my pen writing.

I will write what I know and what I want to know.

I will let each word stand on it’s own and not apologize or explain.

I will only respond from my heart or not at all.

I will be honest and let it be what comes.

December 1, 2020

Missing

November 29, 2020

I have seem to have lost my sense of humor. I know it was just here the other day when I found myself laughing with my family over something silly at the dinning room table. I counted a few laugh out loud moments yesterday when I was trying to improve my mood. I take the lack of laughter in my life as a symptom that I am depressed and do not realize it. I have never been able to force myself to laugh at something I do not find funny. Sometimes a coping skill, like forced laughter, does more damage to one’s sense of self than whatever social capital it affords. My attempt to understand depression and it’s relationship to humor is found in my next letter of the ABC’s of Depression, Letter M. I will include a poem about Divine Laughter to help illuminate my ramblings.

M- is for Maya. Maya is a Vedic word that means illusions. Maya is the feeling of not knowing what anything really is. It is the play of gods on our senses. It is often associated with pain of karmic cycles. Our limited view as mortals creates suffering because we cannot see through God’s eyes. We are in a state of constant change and the destruction of time.  We are avoiding who we are and our destiny by trying to preserve our version of ourselves.

The illusion that life is a monster that is devouring us is part of our creative genius as humans but also keeps us from becoming. It is comical in its absurdity.   I find being caught up in divine laughter can release me from self-concern. Laughter is an act of whole body feeling of amusement. Amusement means to pleasantly hold one’s attention. Divine laughter is to have my whole body amused by the blissfulness of God union.

The Dream

Last night I was laughter.

I was being laughed.

The world was light,

and I shook in lightness,

all concern left

and

I was released in perfect happiness.

I had company all around with whom I knew and loved.

I was playful and without thought.

Today I am different from before.

I am dancing with happiness again.

I feel free and life feels easy.

I thought this day would never come.

But it has and I am here different

Grateful Blessed.     

ooh la la…

November 23, 2020

On my daily walks around my neighborhood I am noticing the exquisite state of winter trees. If you look closely deciduous trees glow after their leaves have dropped. Just like the old wives tale that women have a glow to them when pregnant, trees blush with a secret they can not hide. Here is a poem I wrote about trees in their unveiling.

Winter Tree

I am naked

A bare tree in winter

Reaching in all directions

Stretching out

Releasing what I was

Alone in the forest

I get my strength from sap

That rises in the coldest months

From the deepest part of me

I hold up abandoned nests

Exhausted from life

I stand as a gate

Only wind can pass through

I am asleep

Listening to universal dreams

At peace in stillness

Reviewing the year

Grateful to be done

With growing and blooming

By Angie Alkove

L

November 19, 2020

L- is for Lost. Sometimes depression can come from a series of losses or a long period of being lost. It is the accumulation of confusing moments and eventual succumbing to fear. It is a crushing squeezing out of breath and feeling. I don’t feel myself when I am lost. I feel like I am being extinguished. There is a vulnerability that emanates from me, something animals can smell. A dark sky without stars is disorienting and feels like a weight from above, a never-ending night.

At the time of this posting we are coming out of a new moon and I feel lost and a strong sense of loss. My beautiful daughter will be 18 tomorrow, a big milestone for her and for Jim and me as her parents. The very first step in being a legal adult in this country. Also, it is the first of the last chapter of parenting. Just as at the end of the Presidential election I feel joy and relief that we are almost to a change that is a long time coming. I also feel fear and sadness. I am sad for how much I have had to endure under the last four years as an American and I am fearful of the unknown, how will we go on as a nation with deep wounds still fresh? Now my dear daughter will be stepping up as a full citizen and I am sad that our paths are diverging and fearful that I will not find as much happiness in my day to day life now that mothering is mostly done. My faith is renewed in seeing the wonderful person she is and how much she has to offer the world. I am not so much part of the show anymore but know I will always have one of the best seats right next to her Dad. I pray that she is never lost for very long and never feels life’s losses are too much.

Letter K

November 9, 2020

K- is for knowing. In Hebrew the word, yada, means to know, to have a personal and intimate relationship. Yes, this is yada as in “yada, yada, yada” like in the Seinfeld joke. Here is the link if you have to get it out of your system:https://youtu.be/O6kRqnfsBEc who

But serious people who know depression know it intimately.  Job shows that through suffering we know God. Job brings dignity to suffering by inhabiting it fully. After much dialog with friends and with God Job says, “If only my words were written in a book- better yet, chiseled in stone! Still I know that God lives – the One who gives me back my life- and eventually he’ll take his stand on earth. And I will see him- even though I get skinned alive!- see God myself, with my very own eyes. Oh, how I long for that day!” [1] I see Job finding hope in his despair. He says “God lives” I can find this when I practice gratitude. Brother David Steindl Rast’s teachings on gratitude are wonderful examples of showing how God is alive in everyday moments. I love the idea that you can’t be grateful for everything, but you can always find something to be grateful for. When I take the time to contemplate gratitude I find God is in everything. God is undeniable. The loveliest part of this is that God knows us intimately. God is so deceptively close that She cannot be perceived as separate. Only in moments of Grace can God be sensed.


[1] (Job19: 23-27 The Message The Bible in Contemporary Language)

https://gratefulness.org/