This song is some words and pictures I wrote to my own depression …
For most of my life, I’m ashamed to say, I don’t think I actually believed in depression. Even though I had loved ones who’d been clinically diagnosed, I think I just thought they needed to cheer up and possibly try a bit harder (cringe!). Then, my own struggle with the nasty ailment came, and now I realize the word “depression” is a poor description for such a wasteland of pain.
I remember the exact day, almost the exact moment, it arrived. I was playing a gig in Lyon’s, Colorado, and somewhere in the middle of song 10, or 11, I saw this thing coming at me; a tidal wave; a virtual tsunami of pain I had been stuffing away for years. Unhealed wounds, unmet trauma, grief not yet processed. They’d all been shoved into a hidden pile in my closet. My room looked clean as long as I kept everything ugly in the closet right? But that day, I added the straw that broke the camel’s back, as they say. One too many hurts shoved in a small space and it all came tumbling out over me. I knew it too; I saw it coming and tried to run, but it was so much bigger than me now. I was flattened by the intense weight. Ripped to shreds by all I had been locking away for so long.
The wild thing was, I felt guilty. Guilty, because I should have … I wanted to … be happy. I’d had a great summer; playing gigs, traveling around Scotland, making some cash. I guess my un-met traumas and stopped-up grief had just had enough of being ignored and put away.
Fortunately for me, at almost this exact time, I became friends with someone who knew all about dealing with trauma and grief. She knew that if you keep that stuff inside you, unprocessed, it doesn’t go away; it grows; screaming at you for attention and waiting to be met and healed. Unmet it becomes inexplicable anxiety, cynicism, paranoia and cancer. She helped me walk through 2 years of processing. It kind of felt like dying, but man, what a relief to shed so many old skins; layers of pain.
Depression. The word is so small. Depression is not just one feeling; its a desert you have to crawl through! The Valley of Anxiety; the rocky pathway of Knots in your Gut. The long, flat, dry wasteland of Numbness. Relief for a day or two and then rotated back round, plunged into a night where there is no light or cool air on your face. And, the guilt … man, the guilt at not being able to be okay. Just not being able to hold it together for everyone else, like you always have.
So, as I found myself emerging from these past two years, I woke up one morning and Depression was there looking for my attention like a hungry snake. “Really” I thought, “Again, you bastard? Aren’t you finished yet?!” I grabbed my guitar from the side of my bed and began to sing to my sadness. Telling him exactly what I thought of him.
A few weeks later I started to draw pictures of my struggle – and I couldn’t stop; they just flowed like a feeling longing to be expressed onto the paper. Kris and my kids were like, “Mom, are you just going to draw pictures of a bird getting kicked around all day??” By the 3rd or 4th week, Kris would walk by me with my sketch pad, “Lord, what happens to that poor bird today?!?”
So, I just want to say … I feel better. Much, much better. If you have struggled with this arsehole yourself, I encourage you to tell it how you feel. Maybe I needed a time of falling apart (I mean really falling apart – Kris started to call me Dee-pr-Esther) to allow myself to process and grieve through the many traumas and hurts I’d locked away. All I know is I feel much, much lighter. I could float away! If you’ve suffered like this, I hope you, like me, can find a good, patient friend to talk to. Please try to do that. It hurts, but it does really help and heal you in the long run.
There is light at the end of tunnel. There is life after depression. May you find your Easter day; the rising day. May I stay in mine.
This song is dedicated to my friend and sponsor in music Cherie Snyder; who fights her own personal bastards and inspires me often with her courage and light.
And to Rachel, an anam cara to many.