Thursday, September 3, 2015

Where On Earth Have I Gone? Depression and Identity

WAKING UP is always a strange experience when you’re depressed. A sense of lostness from the get go. The identity has gone absent without leave. It’s gone without explanation.
The cause of the depression has its roots in relationships gone awry or a lack of purpose or a combination of the two. But the effect of the depression bears no relationship to the cause — helplessness bequeaths to us a dissociative pathway. We have lost part of ourselves — a vital part that we cannot do without.
Depression hits at the very heart of identity.
It strikes us at our vulnerability and targets our weakest place. The soul is bare and defenceless with identity askew.
The effect is a loss of hope and the incoming future that we call the present carries to us the mood of lament for being alive. Happiness seems a distant memory, too far away from our immediate future. We can tell depression has taken its grip on us when day after day we feel the same way — for weeks — and we cannot seem to shake it. We are at a loss to know what to do. All options seem a stretch too far.
Banking on the identity we have in our faith is our way of coping in the day.
Going to the Word of God, to the psalms, Paul’s writings, particularly 2 Corinthians, we have a way of identifying with the human experience of life when life is tough.
We find afresh, we are not alone. Many have been here where we are at before us. And if we are watchful our forebears will show us a way out. They will show us a way to stronger identity.
We are forgiven for asking “Where on earth have I gone… I long for me to return.”
Having read the Word of God we then go and share what we’ve learned with someone we trust. Connecting with another human being about our depression is vital. Support gets us through the day. Just speaking with someone who will listen to us makes today’s difference. But resist people who think they know what’s best for you if you can help it. Unless you know they know what’s best and can help to that end. Being told what to do when it’s unhelpful will only make the depression experience worse.
Having become lost to ourselves in depression there is hope we will find more of our true selves in the process of recovery.
Questions of identity expose, but they also offer an opportunity to create something new. On a good day, ponder the possibilities. Don’t think of the work ahead. Simply enjoy the possibilities.
You will find yourself again. Hope for an even better “me” prevails when we ponder possibilities.
People can say “I wish the old you would return” all they like, not realising it’s us who miss ourselves most.

© 2015 Steve Wickham.

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