What is the meaning of age?
Is it wisdom?
Only if the time has been spent wisely.
Is it growth?
Only if given room and nourishment to grow.
Is it peace of mind?
Only if all has been found within.
Is it neglect?
Only if the choice is made to turn away.
Is it irrelevance?
Only if importance lies solely in fads.
Is it regret?
Only if wonder and honor are allowed to slip away.
Today I thought I’d share a few excerpts and snippets from journal entries written while I was in a deeply depressive state. Often, writing these thoughts and feelings out has been healing and maybe even life saving, as it gives me a way to focus the negativity without harming myself. I hope that by sharing these very personal thoughts, that it might help others who struggle with depression to feel less alone, and give those who don’t quite understand true depression a feel for the mental suffering endured by the clinically depressed:
“I’m so anxious today. I feel that there is little hope of my brain ever letting me live in peace. I’m so exhausted by the pain, fear, and despair of existence. I wish there was a simple ‘check out’ button when you can’t deal with life. I don’t want to harm myself but I don’t want to live this way anymore either.”
“I think way too much about death – always have. Death to me always represented freedom, a way out of unbearable life circumstances.”
“I often feel (and sometimes am certain I KNOW) that I am far more mentally ill than anyone else notices. I believe I hide it well, but often feel on the edge of snapping.”
“Only my pride and fear of complete loss of control restrain me from self-annihilation in the worst of my moments.”
“I don’t want to be hospitalized, I don’t want to cross that line, but I wonder sometimes if that is what I need.”
“I am so tired of fighting these self-destructive impulses and wondering what in the hell is wrong with me that I have them in the first place.”
“Why am I tempted while riding in the car to grab the steering wheel and spin us into oncoming traffic? I cross my arms tightly just to make sure I don’t act the thought out.”
“Why do I feel such a depth of emptiness and despair that I lay in bed wanting to sink my teeth into my skin until the pain finally ebbs away?”
“Why do I fear physical pain more than anything in life, yet feel the urge to inflict it on myself?”
“There are no good options. All this rage, anger, and pain. If I inflict it on others…I hate myself. If I inflict it on myself…I hate myself. There are no good options.”
(If you like this post and would like to see more, please comment and let me know! I was thinking of maybe sharing more of these in the future if anyone finds them helpful.)
I’ve been dealing with depression a lot lately, mostly due to unresolved childhood trauma I believe. Today I finally felt at least well enough to make a video talking about some of the things I am going through and wanted to share that in case it might help anyone else struggling. I am also going to share the written version of the poem I read in the video here:
Written by: Maranda Russell
If I only had a dollar
for every time
I have looked down
from a great height,
shook a full bottle of pills,
held my breath under water,
or inhaled exhaust fumes
I could actually do it,
I could end it all –
I would have more
to pay for all the
I obviously need.
To be honest, I’m not big on conventional therapy. Now, that does not mean that I don’t think some people benefit from it or even need it, but I don’t believe it works for everyone. For myself, perhaps it doesn’t work as well because I have already read so many psychology and self help books that I know what is likely to be said anyhow. When I was a foster parent, therapy never seemed to do much for any of the kids who were forced to go. In their cases, I think it didn’t work that well because they didn’t want to be there so they didn’t cooperate or act on the advice given them. If you do go the traditional therapy route, I think it is important to find a therapist who will give you tangible strategies to apply to real life situations and (even more importantly) you have to be willing to put in the work and do those things.
Personally, I have been to therapy a couple times in my life. The first time was when I was 12 and my dad died. That was forced therapy that didn’t go very far because I didn’t want to talk about it and no one could make me. The second time I went to therapy was after my sister committed suicide. I do feel that talking through my feelings with a professional helped some in that case, but it wasn’t what healed me. Looking back on the rough patches in my life, I have found that some of the most effective forms of therapy aren’t those you find in a therapist’s office. Here are a few of the “therapeutic” activities I feel have had the greatest impact on my life:
So what about you? What kinds of “therapy” do you find most healing?
Recently there has been quite a bit of pain introduced into my life. Not necessarily my own, but that of my grandfather, who is dying from stage 4 lung and bone cancer, and from my new foster son who is dealing with emotional issues no one at his age should have to encounter. Of course, I do have my own enduring pains, including the depression my entire family struggles with and the health problems that have plagued me for years, mostly due to my faulty immune system.
With all of this on my mind in recent days, I found myself in need of comfort. While shopping the aisles of my local library, I picked up a book entitled “Why Me, Why This, Why Now”, written by Robin Norwood, a well-known therapist and author. I could tell that Robin was approaching life from a spiritual point of view rather than a scientific one, so I was hoping I would find more than just medical jargon within the pages. Luckily, I found more than I even expected, including the following thoughtful affirmation:
“I didn’t yet understand that God is always unknowable and that as we move closer to Him, God moves farther away, drawing us higher and higher as we seek and search and try to follow.”
I must admit the above quotation threw me a bit at first. After all, I had always been told that when me move closer to God, he moves closer to us. As the Bible verse says, “Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you”. However, I can see the truth in the author’s opinion. If God always met us where we are, we would fail to advance upon our path of spiritual growth. By being slightly elusive, God keeps us following him, thirsting for more. In no way do I want to give the impression that God is cold and uncaring by turning his back on us and walking away. He is more like the parent who encourages their child’s first steps by standing out of reach and then calling for their child to follow.
The other thoughts the author shared that really hit home were actually part of a list explaining the purpose and reality of human suffering. Here is the list as Robin Norwood gave it:
1. Deep healing always involves a change of heart and therefore an expansion of consciousness.
2. The cure of a physical condition or illness does not necessarily imply that meaningful healing has taken place.
3. The continuation of a physical condition or illness, even if death eventuates, does not necessarily imply that meaningful healing has not taken place.
4. In the emotional realm, the greater the trauma, the greater the potential for meaningful healing.
5. At the level of thought, the greater the distortion in the belief system, the greater the healing, should that distortion be corrected.
6. The healing of the individual affects the healing of the entire body of humanity; the healing of the body of humanity affects the healing of the entire planet.
Although the above list is fairly self-explanatory, I can’t even begin to tell you how it freed me from untold pain and anguish. Instead of fighting against the inevitable, making myself and everyone around me miserable in the process, I could allow life to happen, help where I can and leave the rest of it in the hands of someone who knows better than I. I have always believed that everything, all the good, as well as the bad, happens for a reason, but when you are in the midst of turmoil, it is easy to forget what you have always known to be true. This helpful book reaffirmed my belief in life and the purpose we are all here to fulfill. Life is a classroom, and we are all here to learn. So let us never forget that pain is one of our greatest teachers, and like a diamond, we will only be more beautiful and pure once we are refined.