Depression? – Yes, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
One of my earliest childhood memories comes from a time when my father was suffering from a deep depression. I was four years old and I remember sitting playing with a toy car, inside a psychologist’s office. My father was finally getting the help he needed to deal with this blackness that had surrounded his every waking moment since it began.
Being only four at the time, I do not recall everything that was said. I do however remember quite distinctively the psychologist asking me in front of my dad, “Can you tell me what you think about your dad?”
Even at that age I knew that the question was extremely personal but was asked for a purpose. I replied “He’s my best friend”. My father broke down in tears, and it was evident to me that his sense of self-worth had been eradicated by his depression.
He recovered, with time, slowly but surely, yet I will always have those memories of his darkest times. Many years later in life, I also fell into depression. Years of working in a stressful, unfulfilling, bully-populated job had turned me into a wreck. My life felt like something I didn’t want to possess anymore. Ok so the recreational drug use certainly didn’t help, but I was trying to fill a hole in my life, attempting to make myself feel better (that’s my excuse anyway).
It was during one of the worst periods of my life my dad gave me some thoughts;
“It is only the truly emotionally intelligent among us that ever really experience what depression might be. It is far better to live a life full of the highs and lows than to live at a constant level of dullness. I was depressed for many years; I recovered and became a better person than I was before. I know myself better, I know other people better. You will recover and understand that you can use your experience of this to rebuild your life.”
I made a clean break in my life, left the country and the job that made me ill. I began to do things for myself, opportunities came my way. I met my wife (we weren’t already married and I lost her, I mean I met the woman who would later become my wife), I slowly started to recognise that I was in control of my emotions, I could use my experience to know how I would react to certain people, events and locations. I slowly but surely began to understand what happiness was, how it felt like sunshine warming your soul, I started to smile again, enjoy life, spending time with others and many other things.
These days, my dad is no longer with us. However all of the truths about life he taught me are. People say that depression is an illness or a disease – I must disagree. I think depression is much more like getting a bad injury. You can recover in time, but the scar will always remain.
It is important, I feel, to recognise that the things we go through in life, good or bad, shape us as people. Our values and beliefs that we pass on to our children, come from the way in which we react to the events or situations that happen to us. So recognise that scar as a mark of experience, of learning about yourself, life and the universe around you. Your scar is not a bad thing. Believe me when I say that depression, when you get over it can become a fantastic motivational force. I like to think about my painful depression as my second growth spurt in life.
Yes it was hell to go through.
But hey! I’ve walked through hell, and reached the other side.