~ Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek: The Next Generation
I came across a website the other day, DepressionTribe, which is a community site for people who are affected by depression. The philosophy of the site is that “individuals become empowered to help themselves and others when they feel a part of something larger.” The site allows members to create profile pages and share stories, photos, videos, music and artwork; to chat, participate in groups, and leave comments; and provides a venue for creating personal blogs. I haven’t poked around the site enough to make a recommendation, but it looks interesting.
While reading some of the members’ posts on the site, I was reminded of how destructive depression can be. I didn’t think I would ever need to be reminded, since I was living it day in and day out for so long. But reading about the hopelessness, the fear, the frustration and the hurt made me realize how fortunate I am to be experiencing a reprieve right now. I am riding a wave at present, enjoying life and appreciating all that I have been blessed with. I’ve come through to the other side. I have survived. Again.
My experience is that depression is a cyclical thing in my life. While I try not to dwell on it, I do not think I have seen the last of it. There has been a shift for me, though. I am choosing to savor my current contentment without constantly looking over my shoulder and wondering when I will be hit by despair once again. I am living life in the moment for a change. And I am continuing to make gains in physical and mental health that I hope will help me down the road when the wave crashes again. Maybe I won’t fall so far next time, maybe I won’t stay down so long. Maybe I’ll be able to remember that I was healthy and happy not so long ago and that will give me more strength or more hope for seeing it through yet again.
Life isn’t perfect right now. There’s that whole nagging issue of having no clue as to how I am going to make it financially in the future. But otherwise, things are better than I thought I could ever expect. I am reminded of the four minute mile. People used to think that running a mile in under four minutes was a physical impossibility for humans. Runners came close to completing the mile run in that amount of time, but no one could break through that four minute barrier.
In May of 1954, runner Roger Bannister did the impossible. He completed the mile in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds, disproving the notion that it couldn’t be done. And soon after, other runners began beating the four minute mile as well. What had seemed to be a physical barrier had perhaps been more of a psychological barrier instead.
When we’re depressed, it sometimes seems impossible that we will ever be happy, that life will ever be worthwhile. I have proven to myself that that does not have to be the case. We all have different circumstances, of course, and some of us have greater burdens to overcome than others, but a better life is possible if we don’t give up.
The barrier has been broken for me, and I am doing everything I can to ingrain that into my mind. The theme from Rocky is running through my head, and I feel all inspired to go running now. But I think I’ll settle for a walk to the mailbox.
One barrier at a time.