Have you ever wondered why depression is so hard to see? It is because depression can be extraordinarily quiet. It has perfected the art of camouflage and deceit. You can sit in the same room as depression and never even know it’s there. It is buried beneath the soft smiles and brave faces of the ones we love. It blends in with the heroic souls who make the effort to show up day after day, never once whispering depression’s name. It is illusive, but if you do happen to catch its shadow out of the corner of your eye, don’t believe it when it tells you that it is fine. Depression would rather show you its finest armor than reveal the truth behind the hidden cracks within.
If you have ever lived with depression, you know that it is uncomfortably heavy. It is an unwelcome weight against your chest, a damp and foul burden pushing down until you feel its hot, sour breath against your cheek. Depression is hungry. It will feed on every last drop of your pain until you are left a hollowed out shell of your former self. Then it will demand more, and you will give it. Depression will steal your voice, distort your words, and work tirelessly to convince the world that you are doing fine in spite of it.
Depression hides in the shadows, and thrives on secrets and solitude. It shies away from love, light, and the power of compassion. When you share your story, there is power behind your words. You breathe life into your journey and invite those who are listening with open hearts to lend you their courage and strength while you heal.
For those who have felt the terrifyingly intimate embrace of depression, there may be days that are so deceptively dark that you will forget that you once knew light, but from them you will learn to see with your heart and lead with your soul. You will feel the strain in your muscles as you drag your burden from one day to the next, but you will build strength and courage with each step you take. Use those gifts to carry you through until the day you feel your shoulders relax and the knot in your chest begin to loosen.
The next time someone asks how you are, don’t let depression answer for you. Depression does not deserve to be fine. It is not worthy of the effort it takes to disguise its burdensome weight. Instead, take depression’s power away and say, “The truth is I’m not okay, and today I could really use your help.” ❤
Sometimes there is a moment, an unspoken pause of sorts, when the way in which someone has been looking at you as you speak makes a subtle shift from overly polite to delicately tender. It is one of the most unexpectedly delightful gifts to receive. ❤
This morning as we were getting ready for the first day of school, my son (who is going into grade 1) came up to me and said, “Mom, I feel a bit scared about today. Maybe a bit sad too. I don’t know what it’s going to be like, or if I’m going to like my teacher.” He said it quietly, as if the softness of his words would somehow blur their meaning.
“That all sounds perfectly normal to me,” I said thoughtfully. “It’s a new school year with a new teacher, and new classmates. I would imagine that a lot of kids are going to be feeling exactly the same way you are.”
“I guess,” he said, studying his hands. “Everyone keeps asking me if I’m excited to be starting school, but I’m not.”
I nodded as I gently wrapped my arms around him. “There’s no right or wrong way to feel about the first day of school,” I said, reassuringly. “Whatever you feel is perfectly okay, because your feelings are yours to have. I’m glad you told me about them though, because my job is to help you understand those feelings and to figure out what to do with them.”
And that is something we all need in life, isn’t it? Someone who will tell us it’s okay to feel what we feel, and who will still love us anyway. Someone who will listen as we talk, without necessarily trying to fix whatever it is we are trying to work through. Someone who isn’t going to tell us that we can’t or shouldn’t feel a certain way, or try to convince us that we are just fine in spite of the fact that we are clearly not. We need people who will press their shoulder up against ours when we need someone to lean in to. We need people in our lives who will say, “I get it, and I’m here for you, so go ahead and feel all the big feels.”
Our memories are the threads that hold the tapestry of our past together. For some of us that thread is thick and strong; a colourful wool blending to create a rich visual transcript of our journey. Yet for others, such as myself, memory can be like a fine, weblike lace, full of holes and empty, unanswered questions. Perhaps it is a coping mechanism, a safety feature built into our brains that allows us to disappear into soft, safe, empty nothingness. Perhaps it is a habit left over from a need to constantly suppress the waves of unwanted reminders and constant assault of regret. Either way, it sets the foundation for a future full of uncertainty. New memories are sometimes hard to form when one’s habit is to forget, to smother and blur with the broad brushstrokes of denial. It makes for awkward conversations and apologetic explanations. It creates the need to ask for gentle reminders from our forgiving friends. It means asking for understanding, and hoping for the embrace of unconditional acceptance from the ones we love.