Clouds Parting

{This post is about depression. For those going through it, it's not always helpful to read about it, so I wanted to be up front about this story to avoid emotional triggers.}

I was running at a good pace this summer. I was on the "honor roll" of integration.* Creativity bursting at the seams. I didn’t expect to wake up one day and find the last drops of mojo exiting a slow leak in my inspiration reserves.

The funny thing is, I just sat there and stared at the final trickle as it bubbled over the crack, and then without any fight, was gone. The suffocating quietness and blank eyes, the listless expression and dull thinking. I was frozen in place, my energy channeled into nerves instead of mental process. I was finished.

What stopped me dead in my tracks?

Was it nature? Exhaustion? Disillusion?

Let’s call it by name. That thing which has no rhyme or reason. Its name is Depression.

Are you with me? This is a confusing time. What is all my hard work really for? Why does it feel like a piece of my year is being swallowed in a time vortex? It feels like the whole world has suddenly faded into the color of late autumn leaves. And like that leaf, I am helpless to the wind. I let go and fall to the earth, only unlike the drifting leaf, there is a sound “whump!” to my landing. I have exchanged the glory of climbing and swaying with the rhythm of spreading branches for a bruised existence in the territory of all God’s crawly critters. I am not a fan.

I don’t like being grounded. It’s not my usual safe space. I want to climb back out of it and plant my destiny firmly in the lofty treetop again. The place where I can hear God speak and my heart sing; where my spirit has enough breath to dance. Yet here I find myself, struggling in the dust without a clear direction.

I stand still upon the solid ground. My feet feel crushed under my own weight. I breathe, and I listen. No change. I wait, because what else can I do? Then unexpectedly, I feel this throbbing traveling up the veins in my legs, and extending to my whole body. An electricity that makes me visualize my entire circulatory system. It’s coming from beneath me. The earth has a heartbeat, and that heartbeat is speaking rhythm into me. It feels like a constant tide, ebbing and flowing.

I lift my face, looking to the sky. Briefly, the clouds have parted and given me a glimpse of hope. At least for that moment, I know and I know with conviction. I know it body and soul. I still matter, even if I am not as accomplished as I’d like to be. Even if I’m not feeling emotionally stable. Even if I spend half the morning summoning the courage to get out of bed. I still matter and I am still free to claim my own spot of earth. I am still allowed to put down roots. I can still share wisdom, even from a place of not having it together. I don’t have to hide this. And I don’t have to have the answers. I get to be me, without expectations.

As the weeks pass, I see a little more sun a little more frequently. I have an extra burst of energy here or there. I can feel things, even if they don’t quite sync up emotively. I am finding my way out of the swamp.

Movement is happening.

I don’t know where the last month went. But I am looking straight ahead, and not behind me now. And that feels… good.

May it continue to be so.

Why do I write about depression? It's not to get you down. It's to create empathy, which is high on my list of priorities. Empathy is not pity, nor do I wish for anyone to be so sorry for me. I just want to help you put yourself into the shoes of those who experience this. I don't just need Jesus and sunshine. I need love, understanding, and to be treated normally. (Please, yes, let something be normal!) Thanks for hearing me.

*Integration, as relates to the Enneagram. I am a type 2, therefore I integrate to a type 4, and it reflects in my creativity. For more on the Enneagram and how it can help you identify healthy personal movement, please visit my friend Jenny Wells.

Jamie Bagley