Depression is a place where hopelessness prevails, where a deep sadness can’t be shaken. People feel despondent, inadequate, lack energy and have difficulty maintaining concentration or interest in life. There are a lot of reasons people struggle with this darkness; a traumatic event in the past, inability to manage oneself in a present situation, or chemical imbalances brought on by stress. Severe depression can create a sense that there is no way out, a narrowing of options, a profound and deep despair. It is grounded in a sense of purposelessness.
Like a lot of other people, I had struggled with depression. My world became dark and narrowed. I doubted myself and in doubting, my faith began to slip away. I had been told that to despair is to turn your back on God. I was despairing and couldn’t see My Lord. The storm of depression circled like a contracting funnel cloud, soon to be a tornado.
Initially I didn’t recognize the warning signs. My vision was myopic and the focus intense on the “me” getting out of bed, getting through work, breathing. On my own I was not able to find what kept me from the peace I needed. Finally I sought a therapist, one who shared the same religion and who I hoped would reignite my faith.
We had worked together for a while and on this day our session was challenging and seemed particularly long. A lot was covered and attempts were made to incorporate concepts from previous appointments. I was discouraged and believed I had lost momentum in the healing process. I felt drained, more so than usual, and was eager to return home.
It was a warm August day and the heat seemed as oppressive as my thoughts. It took effort, but I decided to go outside and wander about the gardens. Focusing on spent flowers, I deadheaded by hand as I walked, tossing the exhausted seed heads to the ground.
I heard a clear sharp trilling and looked up. I didn’t recognize the high sweet melody of the bird that was on the other side of the yard. I scanned the area from where I thought the sound had come.
The bird sent out another set of notes from the direction of the lilac bushes. My eyes kept trying to pin point where the little bird was, but I simply could not see it. Again it trilled its lovely song and again I scanned the lilac, to no avail. I was focusing intensely in one spot, sure the bird was there.
Then it came to me—on a lot of different levels—widen my field of vision and I will see movement. I realized how this applied to today’s therapy. From the first session and on, there were incremental advancements toward healing. I did not recognize the progression because I was only concentrating on the issues.
I also saw that this was true with my faith. My limited perspective was met by God’s panoramic view. Once I stop trying to focus in on one small area, a snapshot in time, then I saw the movement of God in my life and the movement of my life toward God.
I took a slow deep breath, calmly stood up straight and relaxed my focus. As my field of view widened to encompass what was in front of me, sure enough, movement became apparent.