For most of my life I have lived with depression, stemming from both genetics and from experiences from my childhood. In the past, this depression has completely taken me over, paralyzing me and keeping me from fully participating in life. Along with the depression comes physical pain as well: migraines, body aches, general blah feelings. The medication I am on works well as far as the chemical imbalance goes, and I spent years in therapy, giving me the tools to work through the emotional stuff in healthy rather than self-destructive ways.
There are, however, still times when, despite the medication, my depression breaks through and causes a downward spiral. These times are fairly cyclical - usually Spring and Fall. I am better at recognizing the signs now, but they still take their toll on my and my family's quality of life. I don't get angry or sad really. Mostly I get into an apathetic funk that sticks around for a while and then disappears as quickly as it came. There are, however, a couple of weeks in there - sometimes more - when I honestly don't do anything worthwhile.
I hate the apathy. I tend to push away everyone and anyone who is important to me and I retreat into myself, believing that no one else could or would ever understand how I'm feeling or why I'm acting this way. Quite frankly, I don't always understand it myself.
It is in these dark moments that a still, small voice inside speaks up, if I am willing to listen. A voice that sounds a bit like this:
So...are you breathing today? That's great - you're still with us.Your legs - they still work, right? Yep - looks to me like you can still get up and get going.Are you blinking your eyes? That means you can still open them and see beyond yourself to the world around you.Your arms are moving too - you can still create with them.Your mind is still there - use it to make sense of what is going on around you.Your heart? Great - still pumping.Pull your head out of the apathy and look around you.There is so much planned for your life - the only one you've got, by the way - and you are wasting precious minutes of it. Get up, get out, and use it to help others who don't have everything you do. There is more to your life than just you.
This voice - this change in perspective - is what I need, every time. My world is not just about me. There is a plan and a purpose behind it. A plan and a purpose not just to make my life better, but the lives of others as well. Others who don't have their eyes, their arms, their legs, their mind.
It may take a while, but eventually the restraints my depression break and I get a glimpse of the path I should be on.
The path where my life isn't the sole focus.
Where my issues, while important, aren't so huge as to obscure the possibilities of what this life has to offer, if I just look for them.
And I am able to see the light - the hope - of it all.
And this still, small voice? I am so, so grateful for it, and for what I can do because of it.