Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Good things about depression

I've had Susan Bernard's post on depression open for days, intending to add some thoughts it stirred up in me. But I've been too lazy to use my head for a while and have - I'm sorry - had to put off blogging for a while. But today is the day I will try to address it.

Susan quotes from a book by Jonathan Zeuss, M.D.:

"Depression is a quest for vision; its essence is transformation. Depression wells up and encompasses us for a time in a state of painful, dream-saturated formlessness, but its true purpose is to provide the opportunity for healing insight, renewal, and reintegration..."

One of my favorite books on depression is New Light on Depression by Harold G. Koenig, M.D. and David B. Biebel, D. Min. Much of the book deals with depression from a Christian perspective. I think it's Biebel who said, "...depression's saving grace is not that it can be conquered but that it puts depressed persons of faith in touch with deeper truths about reality, spirituality, and themselves than might otherwise be known." (Yes, I think I understand more about life than those for whom life has been easier.)

He goes on to say - and this is a little bit of a different positive angle I can really relate to:

"Having one's capacity for serenity and joy restored is little compensation for the agony of despair, much less the 'despair beyond despair.' The only true compensation for depression has to do with the sense of purpose and fulfillment that comes from redemptive involvement with others in distress, sharing the comfort we've experienced. This is the true route to joy."

In my own way, I've found a purpose that I probably would not have had, were it not for my bouts with the effects of bipolar disorder - especially the depression. I've come to think of depression as fodder, something bad out of which good can come. Though I suffer as much as anyone while I'm going through it, I know it will help me to help others. And helping others IS "the true route to joy." It truly is.


Emilija said...

I cannot disagree more with the quote from Jonathan Zeuss. Depression is not a vision quest, at least not for me. When I am depressed I am stuck, I am non-rational, lose all perspective, all faith in anything. Perhaps when I am out of my depressions, I can use that experience of suffering to give me a different perspective, but while I am in it, it is too much, too deep, it doesn't give me anything good at all. It only takes away.

Isa said...

Hi ! I just wanted to congratulate you for informing people about your illness and for taking it so positively. I'm sure you are an example to follow for many other people suffering from Bipolar Disorder !

marja said...

Thank you Emilija and Isa.

Emilija: What I take that quote to mean is the perspective we have "after" the suffering is all over. I agree, during it we lose all perspective and are separated from the living world.

Isa: You are a dear! I just checked your blog and I thank you for highlighting the truth about bipolar disorder - that those of us who have it are not simply "crazy" people. And thank you ever so much for your kind words and your link to my blog. You are ever so wonderful!

Syd said...

A wonderful post, Marja! Thanks so much for reminding me why I'm so thankful that God has placed it on our hearts to reach out to help others, thereby helping ourselves along this journey.

Mel Avila Alarilla said...

Hi Marja,
It's a good thing that there is somebody like you who, although undergoing the traumatic effects of bipolar disorder, has gone beyond your own suffering and has helped others cope up with their own. Truly, you share in the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ when He admonished, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23)

God bless you for all your selfless endeavors to uplift the lot of your fellow bipolar sufferers.

marja said...

Hey Mel, You thoroughly embarrass me. You're much too kind. But what I do is not nearly as selfless as it seems. I've learned it's the best way to be happy and well. It's not only for others that I work. Having a worthwhile purpose in life - something positive to focus on - is a wonderful thing. And I've got God to thank for showing me what the best purpose for me is.