Recently, I am struggling with the fact that I don’t feel as though I belong, not only among my peers, but in all aspects of my life. Along with this, I am afraid that I am battling severe depression, but I don’t know where in myself I can find the courage to get help. I have a hard time getting out of bed every morning, because I know that when I do, I am just going to be dealing with the same demons that create my life and make it hard for me to go to class, or to go home, or to work. I have no idea how to find what I need to feel better, because no matter what I do I am so unhappy. I want to go home and want to take a leave of absence from school, but I don’t want to be with my abusive mother and I don’t want to fall behind in school because I only have the next year to finish. I use that goal to get myself through because for some reason when I think about finishing school, I think that all of these problems and feelings will go away. But at the end of the day, I’m up all night dreading all of these things. What do I do to make it through this?
I am so sorry that you are suffering so much. I understand the pain you are in, and I want to help. I recently wrote a column on depression (Depression as an Opportunity for Emotional and Spiritual Transformation, 11/15/15) and I’d like to invite you to begin there.
You wrote: I don’t know where in myself I can find the courage to get help, and yet, you’ve already shown courage by writing to me. You could have caved in to the feeling of hopelessness, but you didn’t. Instead, you reached out–that longing for more, that spark of hope, acted upon with strength of will—that is courage. Courage is doing what we intuitively know needs to be done, despite any array of negative emotions that rise up and try to interfere with the follow through. That which led you to reach out is the very energy that will take you all the way, in terms of healing. Trust that impulse.
Perhaps you can find some more courage in these words: Take the step not for yourself, but for the young woman you are going to encounter ten years from now who is suffering as much as you are now. How will you be able to help her unless you help yourself first? Your healing is your gift to the world, to her, for when you do heal (and you will) you will be the proof she needs in order to trust that she, too, can move past her suffering and find happiness.
I have felt the paralysis you elude to—trapped in an interior life that pulls us farther and farther down, light years away from contentment and joy. I know what it is to have one’s life hijacked by depression, and I know how easy it is to cooperate with depression’s invitation to nestle deeper into the familiarity of grief. And while I’m a bit self-conscious about sharing how I began to restore myself, it would be dishonest for me to ask you to have courage while I hold back. So here goes:
I had an experience—the most precious and generous experience of my life. In a nutshell, following the death of my beloved father, I had numerous encounters with him, and I was shown that we do not die—that we are in fact eternal spiritual beings. And I don’t know why, but following the initial visits from him, I spontaneously knew I’d never be depressed again. At the time I wasn’t able to explain how or why that was so, but I trusted my intuition, which led me in a very natural way to delve into the connection between death and human suffering.
We do not die. And this is much more than good news for those who grieve—it is actually an opportunity to re-construct our lives—and the way we experience the happenings of our life—around truth rather than a false belief. It is an opportunity to construct a completely new understanding of what it means “to exist.” The truth is, no death radically redefines life and living—it holds the power of restoration.
Please know that just because my depression had been lifted, it didn’t mean I was all better. I still had to do the work, the therapeutic and spiritual work, to understand why I was so fractured to begin with, and there were moments, and there still are, when I brush against the feelings that threaten to annihilate me. But no depression. There is no more room in me for that thief. The life I have now is a nod to the authenticity of that sweet, life-altering experience, and I have never, ever, taken that shift in perception for granted, nor have I kept it to myself—I couldn’t even if I wanted to.
You are loved. You may not see anyone in front of you, you may not feel it in this moment, but I can assure you that you are being held, in this very moment, in the heart of the divine. You are being sustained by the most precious love imaginable. You were born to your parents, but you are first and foremost God’s child. Your parents’ DNA and your life circumstances are props for your life—but they are not you, and thus have no real bearing on you, unless you let them. You choose what to do with the “props,” not the other way around.
Find the way to You through love that is already within you–there you will find your lifelong courage and your peace, simultaneously (take a peek at the gingerbread person sketch—it may help to visualize what I am speaking about).
When you struggle, and you will, remember that there is always room for love—you can’t squeeze out love because you are love. The “demons creating your life” are different versions of all the encounters with abuse and pain you have suffered through. The moment you experience how precious and lovable you are, those demons will move out of the way.
You spoke about leaving school: My gut tells me you should not. When we are depressed, it is very common to have a look ahead date or plan in anticipation of things being better—but what I have learned is where you go, there you are. Don’t let that frighten you; rather, it is a simple expression of just how contained our demons are, and by taking the interior journey, we can begin to dislodge them. Those demons are going to resent the hell out of your unbridled courage.
And with respect to your living situation: If you can avoid living with an abusive person, do so. The burden to not go home will be significant at your young age, but your healing is dependent upon taking space far away from toxic behavior. Speak with a counselor who can help you find a way not to return home at this point—to make it work logistically and financially through the summer months.
You are not alone. Your situation is not hopeless. You are no one’s prisoner—you are no one’s slave. Every dream, every possibility, and every bit of strength you need to be free is with you now, just as it was on the day you left heaven and showed up for a tour of duty on earth. Don’t let the props of your life, or your EGO, trick you into believing otherwise.
And this Valentine’s Day, draw the biggest, prettiest heart on a piece of paper—color it in, hang it up. It’s from me.