Hitting the wall

A good friend of mine is dealing with depression.

Having danced that painful slow-dance several years ago, and knowing it’s quite likely coded into my family’s DNA, I have the utmost respect for its mind/body/spirit impact. Finding the right combination of counseling, medication, insight, faith foundation and/or physical exercise to break through that personal wall of weariness is critical.  And hard work.

None of us is immune: one in eight Americans will deal with severe depression this year. And moving through it once does not mean you have a free pass forever. Which, to me, makes our nation’s finding parity for emotional and physical health coverage a must. And programs like PBS’ “Out of the Shadows” www.pbs.org/wgbh/takeonestep/depression/ well worth watching.

Here’s what depression has taught me.

Hitting the wall is not bad luck.

It’s not a test from God.

It’s not because the planets realigned last week and Mercury didn’t shoot me the memo.

It is a 24/7, wait-me-out, in-my-face reminder that something from the past I’ve known  and the future I want are not in alignment.  There’s a disconnect.  Some brain-chemistry balancing may be in order, maybe not. A counselor’s guidance may be a good investment. But my first step is to identify the missing synapse that’s singing for my attention. Now.

My friend Kristy, a long-time mental health warrior, and I have become quite adept at catching our disconnects earlier and working them together so they don’t become depressive. Whether it’s big stuff—my father’s passing, her mother’s dementia diagnosis—or small—a painful criticism or a project gone awry—we’re now fast on the phone to set a session and get a heart-full of hope.

Starbucks, tomorrow…and wear your therapist T-shirt.”

We take turns channeling Carl Jung and playing Devil’s Advocate.

Challenging and cheerleading.

We break out the draw-your-dream techniques we both learned from our good friend and integrative counselor John. We’ve colored, we’ve cried, we’ve spontaneously combusted into laughter over topics so intensely sad the circle of emotions found completion on its own.

It all helps me confidently assure the friend who is hurting badly now, it will get better.

You will get through.

But when you reach the other side of the wall, you will be different.

So, who will that person be?

Photo: OliBac, Flickr Creative Commons

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