I’ve had to fish like it’s my job because my depression has decided to see what summer is like in New England. The first step, for me, in dealing with it is naming it, which means finding a way to describe what is happening, which sends me fishing.
Sometimes it blows in like a storm front. I can see the gathering gloom on the horizon, smell the rain in the air, feel the change in barometric pressure. The lightning flashes and the thunder rolls, both giving me fair warning that the flood is coming and I can do little to stop it. The best I can do is put on my life jacket and ride it out.
Then there are times when it feels like a trap door. Without much warning at all, the floor opens up and I free fall into the abyss, grabbing for anything I can find to hold on to so I can stop my fall. I have also thought of it like the ending of a silent movie, where the frame closes down to a pinhole in the center of the screen and then goes completely dark; my task is to run toward the shrinking light so it never completely disappears.
Sometimes it’s claustrophobic: the walls closing in and the air seeping out, leaving me feeling suffocated and overwhelmed. It’s also like a dead weight on my chest both crushing me and squeezing the life out of me at the same time.
This week it has been like a tire with a slow leak. The lack of air pressure is not so noticeable at high speeds, but once I stop I find I’ve got a flat. I fill it up with air and keep going, but it keeps running out. I came home from Mission Trip exhausted, helped with Vacation Bible School at Marshfield (I’m the music guy), went back to work at the Red Lion, and began dealing with my resignation at Hanover being public. Life for me, has been at high speed. I have pumped up when I needed to and then collapsed; there has not been time to fix the flat, only moments to hook up the air hose, which means the leak grows and the air escapes more and more quickly.
Realizing I was more than tired has helped. Learning again that depression has some creative power, in that it finds new ways to invade is both empowering and disconcerting. It morphs like one of those viruses that learns how to beat the crap out of the latest antibiotic, sending the researchers back to find new medicine. With each new face, my depression calls me to live with profound creativity and determination, to not just rage against the dying of the light but to call it by name and force it to make room for all of who I am, so I can be more than depressed. Depression is part of me, both emotionally and chemically, but it is not all of me, regardless of how much of me it wants to claim.
Anytime I sit down to write about it, the other metaphor that comes to mind is that of a broken record: an annoyingly endless repeating loop that forces the listener to leave the room. I have to keep naming it to stay alive; I’m trusting there are at least some who are willing to hear more than the same thing over and over.