imagine a haystack. the hay in the haystack represents all the noise of getting through depression. hiding in that stack are the potential keys for getting to the other side of depression. these could be anything from medications, friends, support groups, therapy or even your aunt mabel’s advice on how she made it through her depression by sitting in a mud bath daily until her depression went away, “Oh, in ’bout six months i reckon,” as those words still echo in your ears.
there are two sides of depression. with the first side of depression, someone begins the tedious work of picking through the haystack. they may find other people’s keys but adding to the frustration, those keys may not work for them. their search continues. they get about a quarter of the way through the stack. they are exhausted. perhaps their fingers are pierced and bloody from both the hay and the inevitable thorns found in the stack. their hands are tired. it’s been hard and maybe they don’t even feel like goingon. frustration and despair kicks in.
they know how far they have come and they know how far they have to go. they feel overwhelmed. the thought of going on seems like a sheer impossibility. their thoughts goes to, “why go on,” as they burst into tears on the seeming impossibility that lay in front of them. they wonder if they will ever find the key or keys to recover from their depression.
with the second side of depression, someone begins the tedious work of picking through the haystack. they may find other people’s keys but adding to the frustration, those keys may not work for them. their search continues. they get about a quarter of the way through the stack. they are exhausted. perhaps their fingers are pierced and bloody from both the hay and the inevitable thorns found in the stack. their hands are tired. it’s been hard and maybe they don’t even feel like going on.
they realize how tired they are. any journey of this length surely can be draining. they give themselves permission to rest and recuperate for the journey ahead. they look over their shoulder at the haystack that remain. it may seem strange, but a smile breaks across their face. they realize three-quarters of the stack remains. there is so much more to go through to find their key or keys to recover from their depression.
people living in hope, no matter how troubled their journey has become either see a way out or accept that they will find a way out. This has the side-effect of making the burden lighter and nearly bearable. they don’t necessarily have a way out, but they carry on hoping that there is one.
people living in despair, no matter how much their journey has gotten better recently, can’t see a way out and have doubts that they will find a way out. This has the side-effect of making the burden heavier and nearly unbearable. they don’t see a way out and wonder if it is worth going on.
myself, I see despair as one more step down the depression ladder. depression kicks in, someone starts going to doctor appointments, trying new medications, making a concerted effort for mor exercise and/or making an effort to stay connected to their support structure. the problems arises when one by one each thing they try doesn’t work. with each failed attempt, hope begins to drain away. That makes it easier and easier to slide into the pit of despair.
despair’s cruelty plays a dirty trick; while we can easily slide into despair, there is no easy way out. gone is the smooth incline we used to get in replaced by a now vertical wall. despair then acts like a prison, keeping us separated from where and who we want to be.
thankfully, there are two paths out of despair, the hard way and the easy way. Unfortunately, the paths are exactly the same. it starts with the realizations that you still have hope. there are two requirements for that 1. you are breathing. 2. you have conscious thoughts. If you have both of those, you haven’t completely given up. If you haven’t completely given up, somewhere inside of you some seed of hope exists.
by caring and nurturing the seed, your seed of hope will begin to grow. hopefully, that will give you the energy to get back to your haystack. remember, if you are breathing and have conscious thoughts, then you have hope. keep moving the haystack, piece by piece. soon, you’ll stumble upon a key. then, perhaps, you’ll check a place that you know you have checked three times before yet another key becomes visible. soon you will discover your key or or enough keys to arrive to the other side of depression. and there will be much rejoicing!