I don’t usually write about depression, but here goes. I grew up with a mom who suffered with bi-polar depression her whole life. I seemed to have not inherited that condition, but occasionally I get a bit too excited and some years back I occasionally got a little lost in the excitement.
The depression side is another story. As a young woman I cried a lot, even hoping that if I cried enough, I would empty the depression tank. Didn’t work. Years of therapy, mostly CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, helped a lot.
But just in the past three months I fell into something “grey” and it lasted longer than usual, much longer than I expected.
Reasons for depression are not necessary if you suffer from the clinical kind, which I have never had specifically diagnosed. Mostly my life has included situational depression, pretty much the way of the world for most people.
This was different in the fall of 2017. Doors of opportunity closed in my mind before I could even consider taking action. I even began to feel unliked and unloved. I had some good days, even ones I believed were a full escape from the “grey”, but sooner or later the underlying prowler caught up with me.
The fact is that right now and for the past eight days I am out of the grey and into technicolor. What happened? I got a call to lead a funeral/memorial for a young man who died at the age of 32. Cancer.
Why did this change me? I can only speculate and hope this might be helpful to anyone reading this.
I was needed. This was devastating for his family and I could help; I had the skill to come in and facilitate a dignified and temporarily uplifting event in his honor. I would throw myself into this preparation with one thing in mind for the following three days: gather tributes, design a celebration with music, poetry, speakers and readings from two dozen friends and family who could not attend in person.
The focus shifted dramatically outside of my own life and into the lives of those grieving for a truly wonderful person, into the life of a 32 year old full of wisdom and kindness, quirks and goofiness.
The depression is quiet, the grey is lifted and I could not do this alone or even with therapy in the months of November and December. But I never gave up hope that something was out there, something would happen if I kept my heart open. And it did. Fulfilling a purpose larger than myself was my response to someone’s need. It was the great gift this young man’s life provided.