I have been deeply (dangerously) depressed twice in my life.
Once was earlier this year when every step into the office at Expedia crushed my soul and will to live.
The other time was 15 years ago.
I can recall easily my May-December romance with depression because in the very middle of it, terrorist attacked and the world was shaken.
I was not. How could I be? I wasn’t shaken because I was barely alive already. I was getting up, going to work, coming home, and waiting to die…over and over each day.
I’d lost a lot that year. A friendship. A baby I’d grown accustomed to rocking each night. A little rental house I’d come to love. My savings. A promotion. A church history that I hadn’t planned to give up but my female-ness in the face of patriarchy demanded I walk away from. In addition to all my loss, I had found the missing and vivid memories of being gang raped in a dusty field as a small child.
And I didn’t cope. I went deep into the dark places and didn’t know how to come out. Much later, as the holidays approached, I would be dragged up and out by Brent Curtis and John Eldridge and my sister’s pregnancy. I would be pulled out by need…my own and others. I would decide to live.
But on 09/11, I watched the horror unfold on the TV at work. A job I had started the day before with people I didn’t know and felt zero loyalty or affection for. I stood and watched and while everyone else felt betrayed, devastated, and terrified, I remember thinking “Of course. This makes complete sense. I asked to die and the world is now going to fall apart.”
(The hubris and narcissim of depression can be amazing. Ridiculous and amazing.)
I went home that night and turned the TV on. Just like everyone. And then I turned it off and went to bed. I didn’t watch all the footage. I didn’t have anything to give the world as it fell apart because i didn’t have anything to even give myself as I fell apart.
Later, I would watch documentaries and feel like I’d missed the whole thing. Because I did.
As the rest of the world went on high alert and had fear, I was numb. When I finally woke up from it, and everyone else still felt high strung and panicked, I didn’t understand why. Because I’d missed the entirety of it all.
It wasn’t until we were embroiled deeply in a couple wars and my friends were going off to fight that I realized how serious the things that unfolded on that day were. It wasn’t until I stood in the Albuquerque city square laying my hands on the steel beams from the World Trade Center that were making their way around the country that I finally felt the weight of the loss.
I’ll never really be able to share in the “where were you on that day” stories because I was buried deep deep deep in my own mind.
On this side of the depression I faced this year, I can say that I am grateful for the protection of my own mind during that season. For the sleep instead of staring at the TV. For the numbness instead of the engagement. I know now, I wouldn’t have made it. I couldn’t take my pain and the pain of the nation. I had no room for all the other grief because mine was severe that it was breaking my mind and spirit.
On this day…today…I know even more.
I was not broken.
America was not broken.
There was loss…mine and the nations.
But we held tight to our deepest selves and we rose again.
I am reminded of this today. I want to be reminded of this every day. In this meanness of this political season. In the terror of young black men being shot. In the horror of the sex trades of young, innocent children.
We will NOT be broken.
We are better. Truer. We are courageous! We are strong.
I love you people!