Depression: A Path to Spirit
What Does the Dark Have to Offer?
After years of viewing depression as an abomination, a plague that sucked the life from me and made my days a chore instead of a joy, I have come to another point of view. After almost two years of freedom from those dark days, I woke up one morning with "the feeling." For those who understand and have experienced depression—and quite frankly I don't believe you understand unless you have—it is accompanied by a certain amount of fear, of "Oh, my God, how long is this going to last? How bad is it going to get? And, of course, can I really do this again?" Well, as it turned out, obviously, I could and did, and here I am, writing about it.
Is There a Method to This Madness?
I used the photo of the dungeon at Chillon Castle because I remember when we were there, thinking how those confined there must have felt, looking out at the ships sailing, knowing they were filled with men and women enjoying a freedom lost to them. That is how depression has always made me feel—as though I can no longer join the rest of the world in enjoying life.
This time was different. After a day or two of wallowing in it, I began to do the usual things I've always done to break the nasty spell, get out of the house more, talk on the phone more, guard my thoughts more carefully, etc. I began to read spiritual material every morning to start my day, which, obviously, I would benefit from doing all the time, not just when I need help. It was when reading something from Conversations with God that I realized a truth, at least a truth in my own life. Depression is the thing that has always sent me back to God. It moved me tremendously when I first had that thought. And, of course, the thought that followed was, "Can it be all bad?"
Do I Need Suffering to Thrive?
In explaining my thoughts here, I don't want to infer that those of us who suffer from depression are somehow the anointed ones—anything but. I simply know that for me, it has brought me back to prayer, to reflection, to rewarding spiritual habits, to practicing patience and kindness in my relationships in a way that nothing else has ever done. I read once that we must learn our lessons here on earth or the Universe will continue to deliver the cosmic 2-by-4. That has not been true for me. I know there are lessons I still need to learn, but I have never been dealt one of those blows. I believe my cosmic 2-by-4 has been depression and fighting my way out of it. I believe the universe forces us, one way or the other, to become aware, engaged, part of the game of life and to learn the things we are here to learn. I am lazy in matters of the spirit. Although I do pray and meditate, I tend to take things for granted when they're going well. My spiritual books draw dust; my affirmations, written on scraps of paper from earlier times, remain in my desk drawer; my meditations are surface ones, never taking the time to feel truly connected and at one with everything. Then comes depression with all its ugliness, robbing my joy and filling me with dread. And I change.
My last bout with depression didn't last long, not even a week. I woke up one morning, and it was gone, as quickly as it came, with no remnants left behind: Gone, completely gone. It left me with a list of things to work on, a new routine for spiritual practices, and a new appreciation of daily life and the fact that I have so much in the way of support and love. I don't recommend depression to anyone. (That was meant to be humorous, just in case you missed it.) I do believe, however, that it is one tool that the Universe uses to bring us back to Spirit. How we use it is our choice. I think most religions agree that we have freedom in our lives to do or not to do as we will. We do, however, have to live with the consequences of our actions or lack thereof.
Some Reading Material That Has Helped Me
- Conversations with God, Neale Walsch
- Communion with God, Neale Walsch
- The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle
- Lessons in Truth, Emilie Cady
- The Holy Bible
I wish you all well as you wrestle the demon of depression and hope you'll give some thought to the idea that it may not be all bad.