As I began remembering back to the time of my depression, I was quickly able to get in touch with the profound pain and anguish that had filled my days and nights. I shouldn't have been surprised with how rapidly the images and details came back because those impressions are seared in my memory due to the darkness, terror and anxiety that was brought to my life. For me, living with depression was like cautiously walking across a deep abyss on a wobbly rope bridge with a 200 pound boulder strapped onto my back...a totally uncomfortable and nearly impossible task.
All the color that had previously shaped my days disappeared as I became consumed with focusing on gaining some degree of control over each and every daily task and physical activity . There was not much left in my life that felt natural, normal or stable so I had to concentrate to be in command of my movements. I accomplished this by holding my body rigidly, so rigidly that by the end of the day I ached head-to-toe from my muscles being constricted by such control. One day at school I had a thirty minute break while my class was in music. I walked back to the room, turned off the lights, closed the door and proceeded to quietly let go of the tight reigns. Tears fell down my cheeks with the realization that keeping my body in such unnatural control took a lot of energy, a high toll to pay every single day. As I was releasing these tears of frustration, sadness and exhaustion, a parent peeked into the room to share a funny story with me. Before the depression, I would have loved to engage in a friendly chat, but since I was unprepared to see or speak with anyone, I looked up with shock and had no time to dry my tears. She was obviously concerned, but I could not begin to honestly explain why I was crying, so I told her that I had hurt my hand while stapling some papers together. There was nothing easy about living with depression.
Decades earlier my dad had also suffered from depression, so he was able to share some of his wisdom that he believed might help me at this time. He told me that it was imperative to wake up each day with the attitude that for today I would put one foot in front of the other, even if I wanted to hide under the sheets in my bed all day. He also reminded me that on some days it was fine to give into the powerful urge to avoid the struggle of merely making it through the day. But then he followed by warning me of the possible impulse to allow this state of avoidance to become a habit. I respected his words and continued to remind myself of his warning.
The second seed of wisdom was planted on a Sunday morning when he and my mom came over to suggest that I travel with them and help drive to Florida during my winter break. I had never been to their winter condo because my vacations were always limited to the summer months when I was on a longer break. The very last thing I wanted to do was travel in car for two days, plus I really didn't feel secure in the idea of me driving on unfamiliar highways in my present state of mind. But I trusted both of my parents enough to accept their suggestion. My dad then told me his belief that if you bring your body, then your mind will follow. Such an easy-sounding sentence with one powerful message hidden within. When would I have a chance to experience for myself the energy and strength of that message?