PART 5 JOYS AND SORROWS
16 Sorrow and sighing
Depression often brings with it a deep sense of loss and grief, although it may not always be clear what has been lost or what is behind that grief. These feelings of deep sadness may lift with a period of rest and recovery and/or as the depression is treated with medication. But very often there is more to it than that and, as we’ve seen, what lies beneath the surface may be complex, requiring time and patience to unwrap and understand.
Using the stories of some of the people we’ve already met in this book, let’s have a look at some of the things we may be grieving for when we’re depressed and recovering from that illness…….
Because of the circumstances of their lives, Peter, Jane, Sandra, James and Sally may have been carrying around within them a heavy burden of suppressed grief, perhaps not even realizing it was there. This pent-up grief, like suppressed anger and fear, can itself be among the causes of depression. Recovery for all of them may involve being able to identify and understand their grief and then somehow expressing their feelings safely before letting go of the losses behind the grief. Each will have to find their own way of doing this, as will we if we recognize our own need to grieve for losses and regrets in our own lives.
17 Joy and gladness
Depression is a terrible illness. It’s destructive and cruel. Its presence reaches out beyond its victim to darken the lives of people close by. Once experienced, it can exercise power by the threat of its return and there is nothing remotely good about what it does to those in its grip.
I do not for one minute believe that God deliberately puts any of us, his children, through this dreadful experience any more than he deliberately causes any other forms of life-changing or life-threatening illness.
What I do believe passionately, from my own experience and from what I’ve seen happen in other people’s lives, is that even in the most wretched of places and out of the darkest imaginable pain God can and does bring healing, beauty and joy, strength and peace. He redeems our suffering by giving it meaning and turning it into a source of goodness.
18 Some final thoughts
I would much rather not have had to experience such frequent episodes of depression over so many years and I still have questions I want to, and do, ask God about. But I’ve learnt that I have a choice about how I view this. I can continue to regret that it took so long for me to reach a place where depression no longer shapes my life. Or I can be thankful and glad that I have reached that place and am finding an enjoyment and delight in life that I had not thought possible. I pray that with God’s help I will continue, day by day, to choose the latter approach.