Those who live or love someone with depression sometimes fail to see the blessings it offers. And those who live with it, because they are often in pain, fail to see them as well. And let’s be honest, our society does little to nothing to help us see anything good about it. To the contrary, they have made billions off the drugs created to treat it illness. But as we have learned, it is not an illness but rather a tool of the soul to clear deep and ancient emotional wounds.
As sufferers can attest, there is no drug that will cure it, only medicate it. That passive state of numbness comes at a price; the mind is dulled and life becomes devoid of color, of passion. That is why so many end up throwing away the drugs; they’d rather deal with the pain than live a life devoid of creativity, joy and passion. So on to today’s focus.
Today I’m focusing on the good things that make living with depression meaningful and worthwhile, i.e., the blessings.
Diamonds of Creativity
One of the toughest parts of living with someone who has depression is waiting for them to surface from the darkness of a depressive episode. Sometimes its hours and sometimes it can take days or even weeks. During those times it is hard not to be irritated, after all, you are in the relationship alone. Your inner child knows this and he/she does not like being abandoned by his/her playmate.
As Kyle learned during our retreat, realizing that when Laurie is in the darkness, or in the deep end of a swimming pool, (last week’s referenced analogy), knowing that she was going through another purging, and that it would end, helped a lot. We seem to be better able to tolerate pain when we know the reason for it. But then we went further.
We learned that as Laurie surfaced she did so bringing something good with her. The term that came to me to use was diamonds, diamonds of creativity. So while Laurie was deep in the pain, something else was taking place. She was accessing the creativity that had been locked in that ancient wound. As it was explained to me, at the time a soul wound is created, all the energies of that moment are frozen with it; much like a snapshot. When the soul is allowed to access and release the energies of that event, the positive, creative energies are released too. That, I believe, is why people with depression tend to create masterpieces during or just after an episode. Back to Laura, when Laura emerged from an episode she had bursts of creativity. So this is a positive, a blessing that comes from an episode, and something that Kyle could look forward to.
Rich Emotion & Deep Compassion
During the retreat I have Kyle and Laura an exercise to do. I asked them to write down the things they valued about the other. Next, they would exchange lists and read them out loud. Kyle’s list was quite thorough, beautifully intellectual and matter of fact. Example:
- I value Laura’s artistic nature.
- I value Laura’s love of beauty.
- I value Laura’s character.
- I value Laura’s drive.
When I had Kyle read Laura’s list it was very different. Example:
- I value Kyle’s and how he sees things I don’t.
- I value Kyle’s extreme intelligence, ability to express himself, completely, clearly and concisely.
- I value Kyle’s growing compassion.
- I value Kyle’s ability to be optimistic even is the face of my despair.
- I value how Kyle takes care of himself physically and emotionally which has been a good role model for me.
Do you see, and more importantly, do you feel the difference? The point I am making is that pain expands the emotional field taking a person from being predominantly intellectual to being predominately and deeply emotional. Kyle, who had not known such deep pain wrote his list as one would expect: intellectually. Yet Laura, who had known such deep suffering, wrote with touching emotion.
They Can Dance with the Dark
Being familiar with deep sadness, hopelessness and despair, people with depression are more comfortable with those feelings. That is why they make good counselors; they can go with you into your darkness and sit with you there for as long as you need. It’s one of the things I most appreciated about Jonathan, my former partner in this work. No matter how dark and painful, he didn’t attempt to shortcut the process or fix me, and that’s exactly what I needed.
Being naturally gifted with high intelligence and intellect Kyle is working to develop the deep sensitivity that Laura has, but to do so means he will need to venture into his own soul’s wounds. Lucky for him he has a good partner, one is who not afraid of what awaits behind those doors and will show him how to face the pain.
As we sat talking for during our morning session, the idea of the 30% came up. What I mean is that when you live with someone with a debilitating level of depression, you must face the fact that they will only be able to contribute about 30% to the day-to-day responsibilities. This means that you will have to shoulder the other 70%. I asked Kyle to think about that and whether he felt 30% was enough. Of course there was a caveat: the 30% is far richer than what many couples experience who don’t have to deal with depression.
I gave the example of my brother Keith who died by suicide. Keith had debilitating, crippling major depression. When I asked both his ex-wife and his last girlfriend why they wanted to stay with him, (Keith pushed them both away because he felt no relationship could sustain crippling depression.) their answer was the same. They said that when he was not depressed (about 30% of the time) they had more fun, had more passion, and more joy than in any relationship they had known. They also said that the depth of compassion that my brother showed was beyond what they had experienced with other men. For these reasons, they felt the 30% was well worth it; that’s why it broke there hearts when he pushed them away. If only I could have known what I know now, maybe, just maybe it could have made a difference. *sigh*
Back to Kyle & Laura
I believe this shot of passion and creativity occurs because when people with depression are out of the pain they want to make up for lost time. After all, they never know when the next episode will occur. Kyle decided that the joy he experienced with Laura during that 30% was worth it.