Describe one of your greatest life challenges
I have had many challenges in my life. Some, I overcome with grace and perseverance, some, well, not so much. I think the one that has been the hardest one for me is depression. It is so much like the cloudy night sky in the picture that I took above. The light is far away and hard to reach. It is hard to see in the darkness too. I focus so much on what is right in front of me, that I can't possibly see the bigger picture that I know is there.
I have fought the battle with depression most of my life. It started in my childhood and just kept getting worse. I did not seek treatment until I was about 25 years old. Mostly, I did not know what was the matter with me. I was always sad, but never knew why. I grew up being down and not smiling. My parents always called me "Sad Sack". It was not meant as a compliment.
In our life, emotional difficulties were not allowed. It was just a part of growing up and you needed to deal with it. I don't want to talk about the possible reasons for my depression, or about the times that I really wanted to hurt myself. Though they were always there.
I do want to say that I am now in my 50's and I still fight with it. I have been on medication off and on since my 20's. Usually for about five years and then off for about three years and then back on again when I start recognizing the symptoms.
I would always prefer to be off meds, but as I get older, that becomes harder and harder to manage. My darkest depressions are always preceded by something that happens to myself or my family. They are not something that comes out of the blue. I can usually identify the incidents that started the cycle.
Depression is not something you can tell yourself not to feel. It is not something that goes away because you wish it would. It is not something that has been healed by prayer in my own live, although not because I don't try. Depression is like a dark hole that you cannot avoid, no matter how hard you try.
Right now, I am struggling again. I am on meds. I take them without fail and they do help. But when things happen, I dwell on the misery and can't seem to let it go. I can't seem to put even the little things aside. I am surrounded by the things I don't want to remember.
Yet, even this challenge has taught me a lot. I have family members who suffer from other forms of mental illness. I have friends who also suffer. I have a great compassion for those who suffer in these times. It is not an easy illness.
I heard a speaker once talk about how, in America, it is perfectly acceptable to be sick from the neck down. But our bodies are made with organs. The heart, the liver, the pancreas are all organs. When your heart is sick, you develop symptoms of heart disease. When your liver is sick, you develop liver disease. When your pancreas is sick, you develop diabetes. Your brain is also an organ. It gets disease too and that disease gives you symptoms of mental illness. Because there are so many different areas of the brain, there are also many different types of mental illness.
I like that definition. It reminds me that depression is not a choice. It is not something that I picked for myself. Being sad, is not something that I wake up and decide every day. There is so much more to it than that.
Depression is an illness that I am working on overcoming. I might not make it in this life, but I know that I will be healed in the next. And for now, that is enough. I can live this, one breath at a time, one moment at a time, on step at a time, until the day when my challenge is over. Until then, I will keep on enduring and keep on trying and keep on hoping for a change.