A while ago I heard a conversation that started with a therapist saying something to the effect of:
“Phew. I’m certainly not lacking a work load. I wonder what that says about the world out there?”
She meant: “Wow. A lot of people are suffering and I wish that wasn’t the case.”
Before hearing that, her friends replied with comments such as:
“These people aren’t focusing on what is important in life and have lost their way.”
“Even if they are trying to take care of themselves they are being self-centered.”
“There are examples everywhere of how wrong this is – the earth is getting polluted and nature is suffering from all of this unhappiness.”
My perspective is different and I respectfully beg to differ.
I can attest to the fact that depression is not something that can be dealt with in a snap.
Wouldn’t it be cool if that were true? Those of us who have a brain chemistry that is easily thrown off kilter could shed our self-centered ways with the same ease as Mr. Rogers puts away his sweater and changes into his Keds. We could then remember to care for our fish tank, and give them a sprinkle of bright flakes and then have energy to start and finish a nice little set of toilet paper binoculars.
Oh, what a wonderful day in the neighborhood.
My experience with depression and attention deficit began during my pregnancy with our youngest son and became severe with the health issues that followed his birth.
I’m doing a lot better now.
But, where I beg to differ is that, of all things, depression is the last neighbor that I’d want stopping by my house, your house, and even the houses of people I don’t like.
For me, depression is more like having your car windshield covered in dew and fog on the inside and outside of the car. Wiping it away just doesn’t work. The only thing that makes a clear view of what is outside the car is a careful balance of temperature and lots of patience.
You know, the comparison between depression and diabetes is a good one to start with – that if it’s okay for diabetics to adjust their blood glucose, then those with depression should get equal care without shame or blame.
I don’t mean to dismiss the serious nature of diabetes, but I’ve been playing this game long enough to wish that the comparisons would be far more dramatic – open heart surgery maybe, or leprosy, the plague, cystic fibrosis, ear lobe cancer. Anything with a bigger Wow factor.
Last evening I had a great talk with yet another friend who is a therapist. I told her that this weekend at Mass I’d be hearing the reading about God being The Good Shepard.
I asked her what it would be like for her clients who are having suicidal thoughts to hear this reading:
God’s Love On The Way And At The Journey’s End
Psalm 23 by David.
1 Yahweh is my shepherd: I shall lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and loving kindness shall follow me all the days of my life,and I will dwell in Yahweh’s house forever.
If they are depressed, I asked, then how are they going to buy it? Or, worse, wouldn’t that give a person even more reason to favor death over life?
We got into her describing that clients with this level of depression often feel completely overwhelmed, and hopeless, and most of all, without worth and a great bother to those around them.
Selfish? Well, yeah. If you can’t even compete with Eeyore, then a person’s vision is not very neighborly. Is this experience something that has selfish intent? No. It’s the opposite.
Did you catch what she said?
“People who are depressed often feel like they are a great bother to those around them, so they isolate themselves.”
My friend expertly described that depression is a big, fat liar. If there is no help that is specific to the way this person’s brain is misfiring, then they simply don’t believe that they are being invited to the table that David describes so beautifully in the most famous of Psalms.
So, this weekend, which is the last weekend before Advent, I am going to go to Mass and thank my lucky stars for modern medicine and caring therapy. Every day these good people stand in the way of the mental bullying that effects one in four people.
One in four.
Thank you for following those of us who are in need, with goodness and kindness.
I loverly you!