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 The greatest thing we can do is to show up for our lives and not be ashamed.

 -Anne Lamott


I'm a creature of the word, learning to tell my honest story.

I offer it here because telling stories is the road back home.

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When your mind is full of tiny mechanical bunnies

"I felt like a veteran greyhound at the racetrack who finally figures out that she's been chasing mechanical bunnies: all that energy, and it's not even a real rabbit."

-Anne Lamott Traveling Mercies


As close as I can tell, this is the best description of depression I've come across so far.

My depression hit hard in August, although looking back now, I can see how I was already depressed while I was still living in Virginia. I just didn't notice the signs, because I had familiar surroundings and people to hold me together.

When we moved to Fort Collins, the mold holding me together broke open, and all my jiggly iggly oogly parts fell out.

I think this is called situational depression.

And somehow, by God's grace, and through the help of my husband and my children (yes, my children helped. I never got to the point of depressed where I couldn't get out of bed. I got far enough that even though I wanted to stay in bed, I knew the fact that I had four little lives depending on me meant I had to try and pull it together. I had to try and pursue self-care with what little will I had left), and a few good friends who listened well and didn't try to fix me, I am no longer depressed.


Hot yoga helped a ton.  Acupuncture helped.  Talk therapy helped a little, but it takes a ton of energy to engage in talk therapy when you are depressed.  Massages helped- anything where I could be taken care of on some physiological level rather than trying to ANALYZE my way out.


Like Anne Lamott says, the mind is not a happy place to be in when you are depressed.

It's just full of mechanical bunnies.  Mean bunnies.

The kind that are systematically gnawing and scratching their way through every bit of logic and reason and will, and spiritual knowing, and any remaining sex drive or joy or wonder, or sense of balance or me-ness.  

Even people who tried to pray for me, who tried to give me Bible verses to meditate on, or well-meaning advice to engage with depression like it is a battlefield of the mind and I am more than a conqueror and Jesus died so that I don't have to experience this and if I just claim my healing, I will be healed...all of that is still-they may say it's a spiritual battle, but in my experience, it is still too much in my head to be worth anything.  


I think I said this before, but when I was depressed, the spiritual switch just flipped to off.  Talking about spiritual warfare, as if I am a warrior, is irrelevent.  

Depression made me a prisoner of my mind and my emotions.  

It really felt like I was a puppet being controlled and manipulated by forces too big for me to fight against.  

Now, maybe peoples' prayers helped immeasurably. I imagine they did. But I didn't feel it helping. And I couldn't really pray for myself.  


But I could cry out, "Help." Which Anne Lamott says is the first great prayer.  

It's "when we finally stop trying to heal our own sick, stressed minds with our sick, stressed minds."

She says,

"Human lives are hard, even those of health and privilege, and don't make much sense.  

This is the message of the Book of Job: Any snappy explanation of suffering you come up with will be horseshit.  

God tells Job, who wants an explanation for all his troubles, 'You wouldn't understand.' "

'Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers" (23-4)

Maybe the scariest part of being depressed was that with every other thing I've gone through in life- the fire, the affair, losing Nana, any kind of trial or suffering or change- I felt the battle, I felt my will to choose, I was aware of the truth and the fight to engage with the truth.

Depression overshadows truth. And in that, it is a darker place to be than any other.

It's like standing on the very edge of a stage, facing a heavy velvet curtain.  And someone is about to pull the curtain aside, and show me that the Wizard- the guy who's supposed to be in charge, the stage manager who told me my role is important and that this play really means something- is really an ugly little midget with no power at all; the play never existed; the audience never showed up; the whole jig is a lie.

But maybe the curtain falling is actually a rending of the veil: that this is really what life is about- the pulse point of pain, the tragedy we are all living, the brokenness of everyone around me.  


Maybe the curtain falling is the thing that wakes the players up and pulls the masks off.

The thing that makes us really human, and really kind to each other. That makes us finally listen and stop trying to fix everything and everyone around us.

Because everything is not fine or fixable.  It never was, and it never will be.

At least, not in this lifetime.  


You know what being depressed brought me?  

It brought me to a place of admitting I know even less than I thought I knew.  

I would call this grace.


Because once I stop trying so hard, I can let God inside of me just do what he does: make me new. Carry me. Love me.  Enable me to love and listen and embrace those around me.

I find I have even more empathy for other people because I think, "I have no idea what they are really going through. And the very fact that they are willing to trust me with some of this pain is HUGE.  I am being entrusted with their jiggly iggly oogly bits.  They escaped the mechanical bunnies just long enough to let me inside their head, inside of their heart.  Wow."  

I can't fix. Couldn't fix myself, can't fix other people.  Don't need to try.  

Anne calls it,

"freedom in hitting bottom, in seeing that you won't be able to save or rescue your daughter, 

her spouse, his parents, or your career, 

relief in admitting you've reached the place of great unknowing.

This is where restoration can begin,

because when you're still in the state of trying to fix the unfixable,

everything bad is engaged: the chatter of your mind,

the tension of your physiology, all the trunks and wheel-ons you carry from the past.

It's exhausting, crazy-making."


I don't exactly know why I am no longer depressed.

I don't know why some people stay depressed, or it gets worse before it gets better. Or it never gets better.

It doesn't seem fair, or right, or kind. 

But if I did know, then I would go around trying to fix everybody, including myself.

What I can offer is a listening ear, arms to embrace, tears to cry with your tears.  And I will watch your kids so you can get a massage, or I will pay for an acupuncture session, or bring you your favorite coffee.  And I will sit with you and nod my head and say you are so brave.





Reader Comments (3)

A. Men.

March 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercara

This is such an eloquently worded description of what depression is and can be. It wasn't until I had gone through the gamut of physical tests that I started to admit to myself that there was an emotional component to how I was feeling physically and now that I'm owning the anxiety/depression, I'm finding strength and encouragement in the stories that are popping up everywhere.

Thanks for being brave enough to share. I'm still at that point where I will share but am entirely consumed with thinking about how people will judge me. One step at a time, I suppose.

March 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteresther.

Thank YOU for sharing, Esther. Every time, it's a huge step. A very brave step. Love, Trinity

April 14, 2013 | Registered CommenterTrinity Wilbourn

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