Listen up, my friends. You who have experienced depression, situational depression or are moving into a season of growth and change.
Today at the park, while my monkeys roamed God’s green earth, I sat on a blanket with a much needed Americano at my hip and read a life-changing passage from The Road Less Traveled, a book a CA soul sister and I are reading. It’s our virtual book club so to speak.
The first time I experienced depression was a college breakup with someone I thought I was going to marry. When you’re young in love, a broken heart can feel like divorce. And a part of my heart died, only to experience a new, true, constant love, years later with Bryan.
As newlyweds, Bry and I moved to Atascadero, and situational depression hit again. New town, new people, new surroundings and that hollow feeling crept and I said to myself: I’m not okay.
There’s a specific depression memory, though. One that made me feel the most crazy.
We had two little ones and were temporarily living at my parents after short-selling a home in the Central Coast, leaving community we thought we’d stay near for the long haul. Marriage was thready and my husband’s job was unhealthy. Every life aspect felt loomy and out of control. As did I.
I was NOT okay.
And my dad sat me down one night and encouraged me to talk to someone and get on meds to get it all sorted out. And those words left a gaping wound. You see, I was grieving our first home, a town we’d become a family in, friends and familiarity. I was grieving how to navigate life with two- not just one- little munchers. I was trying to make sense of confusing words said from respected leadership. I was navigating all of this while living under my parents’ roof with my own kids. It was pure lovely-ness.
I wasn’t okay. And my not okay- ness was uncomfortable to my dad. Who thought meds were the quick solution.
And sometimes meds are.
As is counseling and being willing to open your story only to have someone further qualified be allowed to ask questions about those dug holes.
I’m a fan of therapy. A believer in talking it out. I’m an active participant in spiritual direction and accountable community.
I’m also noticing there are seasons of death and life and pain and beauty and know first-hand that acknowledging these tender seasons and hurrying a painful season along only to make others comfortable are two different things.
Before we can encourage one toward counseling, we must first sit with them and offer words that breathe initial healing beyond Xanax or a therapist couch.
Words like: Wow. That’s a LOT. That’s a lot of change. No wonder you don’t feel okay. Sounds like a lot of circumstances are shifting and you’re grieving what’s died. Gosh, can I just say you are so freakin’ brave? This is a lot.
I imagine how comforting those words would have been, had they come from my dad’s well-intended lips, rather than the message of go get fixed. We can’t get “fixed” or “OK” if we don’t first acknowledge or are acknowledged for being in the tension that happens between death and growth.
The Road Less Traveled‘s author Dr. Peck speaks into the value of not being OK:
“Frequently, for instance, the acts of deciding to seek psychiatric attention in itself represents a giving up of the self-image ‘I’m OK.’ … the feeling associated with giving up something loved – or at least something that is a part of ourselves and familiar- is depression. Since mentally healthy human beings must grow, and since giving up or loss of the old self is an integral part of the process of mental and spiritual growth, depression is a normal and basically healthy phenomenon. It becomes abnormal or unhealthy only when something interferes with the giving-up process, with the result that the depression is prolonged and cannot be resolved by completion of the process.
Dr. Peck points out how one is already doing the growth process before going to therapy and it’s the “symptoms of this growth process” that urges us to make the actual therapy appointment, where a therapist “helps the patient complete a growth process that he or she has already begun.”
We go to therapy- often running or sheepishly- to make all the icky feelings go away, right? But here’s the beauty:
We can’t “go back to the way things used to be because “the way things used to be is no longer tenable or constructive” toward growth and therefore, we experience depression.
“Many people are either unwilling or unable to suffer the pain of giving up the outgrown which needs to be forsaken. Consequently they cling, often forever, to their old patterns of thinking and behaving, thus failing to negotiate any crisis, to truly grow up, and to experience the joyful sense of rebirth that companies the successful transition into greater maturity.”
Boom. Depression is a necessary part of the growth process.
And right there, I cried big old’ alligator tears because do you feel the relief and permission like I do? Do you see how necessary depression is when something has died only to make room for growth?
Friend, lean close ‘cuz I don’t want you to miss what I’m finding freedom in a decade later:
Saying you’re not okay is one of the bravest statements you can utter.
Not being okay is the beginning of growth.
Of releasing comfort and peering into the unknown.
Being not okay will lead to being a different type of okay.
If you’re grieving someone, something, a complacent system, or habit you willingly want to break free of, give yourself grace when depression hits because this means you’re onto something absolutely beautiful.
Something is dying, but something surely is taking root.
Permission, friend. Permission to take notice and celebrate that if it’s depression you’re experiencing, maybe something has died? Where are you growing?
Old isn’t bad and new isn’t better. Old simply represents something you are letting go of in order to take a healthier step forward toward more of who you are created to become.
You aren’t going to stay in this space of depression. You are going to pay attention to it, acknowledge it and tell it, You don’t have power of me. You are just pushing me toward new. And the unknown new is scary. Which is why I’m simultaneously sad and expectant.
We can’t collect abundant blossoms without first digging into the soil of our soul. Flowers always make their way into light after the protection of dark, quiet, rooting.
Join me at the City Farmhouse Meet Up: #realisthenewperfect: “Living Authentically in a Social Media Culture”
Where: City Farmhouse Event Venue
230 Franklin Rd., Ste. 1303
(Factory at Franklin)
Franklin, TN 37064
When: Tuesday Evening, June 20, 2017
Time: 6 pm – 8 pm
*Wine and nibbles will be served.*
*Tickets Limited to 25 Guests*
Purchase tickets HERE.