Depression: A Waste of Time? Or Worth the Time? (depression, part 3 of 5)

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“That is all I want in life: for this pain to seem purposeful.” Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of Prozac Nation, Artwork used by permission from artist Kelly Rae Roberts

“That is all I want in life: for this pain to seem purposeful.”
Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of Prozac Nation (Artwork by Kelly Rae Roberts)

If you asked me about the pointlessness of depression several years ago, I would have said, “Depression is a total waste of time, so get over it.”

But not now.

Without depression’s help, I’d likely be stuck in my past. Stuck in pain. Stuck in a life I hated.

Depression felt so bad it forced my hand and forced me forward.

Going through it reminds me of the chant I taught my kindergarten students when I wanted to settle them down between activities. Seriously, what kept coming to mind was The Bear Hunt.

The kids would follow my lead. We’d tap our hands on our legs twice, then clap our hands in the air twice and do it again, all the while chanting, “We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going on a bear hunt.”

Once we were on our imaginary trail, the obstacles appeared. We’d act out whatever it took to go on. 

“Oh, look. There’s a lake up ahead.”

“We can’t go around it. We can’t go under it. We’ve got to swim through it.”

They and I made swimming motions until we were through the lake, then we’d repeat tapping, clapping and the verse that said, “We’re going on a bear hunt.”

During our treks in the dark woods, we went over bridges, around quicksand, and through tall weeds. The bear ended up back in the safety of his cave.

Depression seems about the same. Slogging through my emotions, I think, “I can’t go around this. I have to go through it.”

Going through depression has been the only way to settle me down. Prior to now, I ran and ran and ran.

I feel strangely comforted by finally taking depression’s path. Learning its lessons is more poignant than I could have imagined.

Here are a few from a list of 53 I found written in a journal I kept during my lowest months.

  • They (whoever I feel like blaming today) may be responsible for all my problems, but the solutions are up to me.
  • Staring at a problem makes it bigger.
  • One small step makes a big difference in changing my direction.
  • Relationships feel safer when I focus on myself and say “I” instead of “you.”
  • Finding a period is hard for me, but necessary. I talk too much and explain too much. Rather than trying to be understood and approved, I’d be better off being quiet and ridding myself of self-doubt.
  • It’s okay to feel my feelings even when others don’t like them or they disagree, as long as I don’t react which means taking my feelings out on them.
  • Lots of times, dreams come full circle. Having dreams for my family and friends is okay, but the only vision I can make happen is the one I have for myself, which then sets a dreamy example for others.
  • I’ve waited to get on with my life until it’s straightened out, but life only straightens out when I get on with it. Sometimes “getting on with it” means stopping, like I mentioned in Stopping For Help (depression, part 2).
  • Other people’s unhappiness, anger, and negative reactions are not my fault. Neither is the car pileup in Texas or the colossal blizzard of 2011 that paralyzed New York City. When I take too much responsibility for everybody/everything else, I’m overwhelmed to the point of not being responsible for my own physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
  • I’m merciful with others and their circumstances, whereas, in the past, I felt judgmental and insinuated they get off the couch and get over it. I’ve learned compassion.
  • Quiet acceptance makes most things easier.

Who or what has been your teacher? What have you learned?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Mostly, I acknowledge it has taken this much pain (the pain of depression) to get me to a safe place where my heart is softer and I’m compassionate and available. The insight gained from depression made it worth going through.

On the side: Click to view more artwork by Kelly Rae Roberts.

Related posts:

What’s Your Secret? (depression, part 1)

Stopping For Help (depression, part 2)

The Cure (depression, part 4)

We Need To Talk (depression, part 5)

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16 responses »

    • I used to think I could, Deb. That’s why I was judgmental when others didn’t control theirs. When I couldn’t, it brought me to my knees. A good place to be. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment.

  1. Well put and I especially appreciated your journal comments. I used to think it “selfish” to say “I” instead of “you” but it is much more appropriate in many situations. Don’t know if part 4 (!) will mention depression medication. And mental depression vs. physical depression. Is that a weird way to put it? I used to think I was just mentally/spiritually/emotionally depressed and if I prayed hard enough, pretended hard enough, tried hard enough, I could “get better.” I have come to realize, however, that I am also “physically” depressed and need medication to alleviate it SO I can mentally, spiritually and emotionally deal with life – past, present and future. My children have promised to beg on streetcorners if necessary to raise funds to supply my meds LOL! Love you and thank you for being vulnerable and oh so honest! Encourages me to be the same.

    • I love you and your honesty, Peggy! You’ve got good kids and they’ve got a great mom. Happy they’ll keep you straight. Really funny about their begging! 🙂

      I probably needed (may still need) medication, but I’m scared to death of it because of our family’s histories with addiction. For that reason, I steered clear even though I knew it may be helpful. I also believe depression is physical, so no, not a weird way to put it at all. The one time I did ask a physician (one I trusted) about medication, he refused. I took that as a sign and I never asked again.

      Since I don’t have any experience with meds, I’m glad readers like you are sharing what works so that others can get help from you. That’s what I love about blogging … it’s not all about me. Readers read the comments as often as they read my posts.

      In blog #4 or #5 (not sure how many more I’ll write on this, maybe just one), I’m mentioning that what works for one person may not work for another. We each have to find our way through. I’ll most likely mention medication then.

      Thank you, thank you! You’re a blessing to me and to my blog.

  2. Great insights. I’m sure your self-analysis and insights are applicable to many people in similar situations. I hope others can learn from your wisdom and save themselves unnecessary pain.

    • Thank you, Anjana. I’d love to think putting this in writing would help at least one person not to suffer so long or as deeply. Your encouragement and edits are priceless. I hope you know how much I love and appreciate you!

    • Thanks so much, Joel. I didn’t think about the timing, but you’re right, the holidays are emotionally tough for many. I hope the post helps others. It helps me to share.

    • Yes I’ve got a bit of holiday depression now and am adding to it by being annoyed at myself for having it. Better to spend some time going in to find out what it has to teach me.

      • Ann, I understand the annoyance all too well. I often feel that way when I’d be much better off accepting myself and my feelings. I hope you can practice gentleness and self-love as gifts to yourself. Let me know how it’s going.

  3. I found your articles through Beth Vogt’s Facebook page. I just wanted you to know that I will be praying for you. Over five years ago, I noticed a shift in my life. I had always been what you might call an “eternal optimist” and then suddenly I started feeling overwhelmed and not able to cope. I couldn’t understand what was happening. Everything was at a great place in my life (unlike some other years). These symptoms got worse until I felt like I was in a black cave and I would burst into tears for no reason at all. I tried supplements, counseling (which was a great way to get perspective) but nothing got me out of the cave I felt like I was in. Thankfully, for me, it turned out that I was experiencing post-menopause depression. My hormones had taken a nose-dive and my body couldn’t cope. At the time, it felt like my mind was the thing not coping. After many more months of hormone replacement therapy, I can say that the difference is like night and day. I truly believed during that stretch of darkness that I might be like that the rest of my life. Although I wouldn’t want to go through that again and even feared that I would find myself back there when I wasn’t on hormones, I am thankful that the depression forced feelings and emotions out into the open even when I felt numb. I definitely can empathize with people who find themselves depressed. Before, I too, would have been thinking “why can’t they just get over it”. I know this experience changed me in many ways. Through it all, I believed that God was with me, even when I didn’t feel Him. Sorry for the long post, but I am praying for you.

    • Elaine, I’m so happy you found my blog post through Beth’s page. And don’t apologize for a minute for the length of your post! I’m glad you felt comfortable enough to let others know what’s happened in your life. Your comment helps me and I’m sure it will help readers. That’s the wonderful part of blogging, we reach others through our sharing.

      Thank you for your prayers and I’ll also keep you in mine. Hope you’ll visit again.

  4. From Facebook

    Rick Smith posted

    Hi Kim! I hope you and yours are well. I recently read your blogs on depression and was quite impressed. All i know of you is what i see through Facebook and i would never have guessed that you ever dealt with that disease. My wife Debbie has bouts of depression from time to time, nothing as serious as you seemed to have dealt with. Hers will be a funk that lasts a couple of days until she can work through it.
    Kudos to you for using reason, intelligence, and whatever outside help to get past it. Also to your family and friends for the love and support they have for you.
    Then you have the courage and selflessness to write about it and share it with the world. I’m certain your thoughts on the subject, and how you got through it, have been a big help to others. I know i learned from them.
    I’m proud to know you and count you as a friend.
    Thanks and bless you! Rick

    2 hours ago

    S. Kim Henson posted

    Rick,

    What a warm and wonderful comment! No one knew how bad it was until I opened up about it, not even my husband and kids. One thing I learned early on (because I’ve dealt with depression since i was a kid) is how to cover it up by laughing and being silly. An okay way to handle it for a while, that was, until I started hurting myself because I wasn’t dealing with the pain.

    Once I got through enough of the emotional ups and downs to feel comfortable sharing, I felt like it was time to write about it. I hope it helps others.

    I really appreciate your friendship. Happy we’ve met through FB and especially Solid Happiness. What a great place to hang out to lift our spirits.

    I hope you don’t mind if I cut and paste your comment into the comment section of my blog. I like to keep everyone’s comments in one place and read back over them.

    Thanks so much!
    Kim

  5. From Facebook

    Linda Saelg Calvanico and Kathi Love Kulp like this.

    Linda Saelg Calvanico posted wow! another very powerful awesome message…love the artwork too!
    Monday at 5:18pm · Unlike · 1

    S. Kim Henson posted Thanks so much, Linda Saelg Calvanico. Isn’t Kelly Rae Roberts a talented artist?! Love that she gave permission to share her work.
    Yesterday at 1:02am · Like

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