Wednesday, June 11, 2014

One Year Later

Give or take a few days. I thought it was time for a check in/update/post script. A follow up to the Big D from last June. I know it is a cliche to say that it is hard to believe it's been a year since ______ (fill in the blank). But isn't that the way it always goes? Time just zips by, sometimes leaving a whiplash effect.

I look back over the past 12 months and feel grateful. Grateful for a full life and all the people in it. Grateful for church and family and my husband. Grateful for the area I live in, the experiences I have had and yep, even-- perhaps especially-- grateful for depression and the lessons it continues to teach me.

I'm sitting in my living room from where I have a great view of my back yard. I can see my deck with it's freshly painted patio furniture scattered around. The primary colors of the chairs and table cheer me to the very core.

I can see the planter boxes and pots filled with an array of flowers, all dancing happily in the breeze. Beyond the deck I see the wickets set up for a croquet game and the memory of this past weekend and some fun competition between friends makes me smile.

We've been blessed with a couple of weeks of delightful weather: sunshine almost every day with lots of gentle breezes to keep it from becoming too hot. It's been perfect weather for ice tea, gardening, reading books in patio chairs, sunscreen and sunglasses, shorts and flip-flops. But then, yesterday we woke up to heavy gray clouds that soon broke open with rain. Rain that cancelled some exciting plans for the day even as it nourished the plants and the lawn. It forced me to come up with a new plan for the day, or at the very least, a forgiving and accepting attitude about how this day was going to be played. This is exactly how it goes with depression.

My anti-depressants work well. I have many days of 'sunshine' and feeling full of energy and strength to tackle whatever may come. But there are still occasional days of feeling dragged low by emotional/mental dark clouds. What can I do but learn to roll with it. I have learned to read the signs, respect them and adjust my life accordingly, just as we do with our fickle pacific northwest weather. Even the heaviest days of rain hold a certain amount of beauty if we just look for it. 

Perhaps that is one of the things about depression I am most grateful for. It has taught me to search harder for the happy that sometimes feels beyond reach. It has taught me that there is an inner strength that I did not know I had until I fought for it. It has taught me that it's okay to fall down and that when I fall it's also okay to just lay there for awhile and rest. But it has also emphatically taught me that eventually I must get up and press on. Depression has forced me to open up and let others in. It has made me dependent on God much more than anything else I have ever faced. It has taught me about being vulnerable and where to put my trust. Depression has also given me a deeper empathy to others who are in pain.

What depression has NOT done is robbed me of my joy. "Happiness is fleeting" and we often say happiness is a choice and we can choose to be happy. But joy is something that runs deeper. For me, the best way to summarize the difference between happiness and joy is that happiness tends to be an outward expression of elation where joy stems from a place of inward peace and contentment. Happiness is temporary based on outward circumstances. Joy is lasting, based on inward circumstances.  I can be happy because the sun is shining, but I have joy even when it rains because I know the Maker Of All Things Good.

Depression has taught me that Joy is possible even in the midst of my lowest moments. But I am grateful that the lowest moments are fewer and far between. The past year has been rough but it's also been good.

Psalm 30
I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me.
    You refused to let my enemies triumph over me.
Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
    and you restored my health.
You brought me up from the grave,[a] O Lord.
    You kept me from falling into the pit of death.
Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones!
    Praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
    but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.
When I was prosperous, I said,
    “Nothing can stop me now!”
Your favor, O Lord, made me as secure as a mountain.
    Then you turned away from me, and I was shattered.
I cried out to you, O Lord.
    I begged the Lord for mercy, saying,
“What will you gain if I die,
    if I sink into the grave?
Can my dust praise you?
    Can it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me.
    Help me, O Lord.”
11 You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
    You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
12 that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!


  1. Lovely post--in both the photography and the words.

  2. I love the connection you make between depression and the PNW weather. Being on a similar journey, it's definitely a familiar road.


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