Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Not Alone: Stories of Living with Depression

Many of you know that I had the opportunity to contribute to another book called Not Alone: Stories of Living with Depression.  It's a collection of essays by a community of authors that tell their stories of how they've dealt with the varied aspects of depression in their lives.  In a very candid and raw fashion, each person breaks the silence in hopes of diminishing the stigma that exists in our culture today.  And by sharing these stories, we've attempted to offer hope to those that suffer today.

In contributing to this project, I quickly found that it was much more difficult than I had anticipated.  Reliving some of the experiences with depression caused me to face some things that were not very comfortable.  As I wrote, it was as if a dark cloud settled over me and I felt my overall mood shifting.  It made me realize how powerful these emotions are and how I will most likely carry them with me for the rest of my life.  It also revealed to me how God has been with me throughout my suffering.  As somewhat of a divine counselor, He not only guided me through the most difficult times of my life, but He strengthened me, taught me and shaped me into who I am today.  So, although my memories of depression conjure emotions that I instinctively attempt to repress, I realize that they are assets as well.                

Depression is a very real experience for many people living in today's culture.  Because of the negative connotations that come with it, depression is usually not something that we freely discuss in everyday life.  The causes are too numerous and varied to mention here, but they can include such things as abuse (both emotional and physical), chemical imbalances, death of loved ones, divorce, rejection and various family issues. There is no one reason that a person might suffer from chronic depression, but one thing is for sure, our fast paced and demanding society definitely contributes to some level of depression in everyone.  It can leave the person feeling isolated, secluded and alone.  People that deal with chronic depression usually hide the effects and do their best to cope with it in isolation, never knowing that the person sitting right next to them in Starbucks very well might be equally suffering.  So they remain silent, hiding away, believing that no one could ever understand what they feel, believing that no one cares.   

For those dealing with depression, Not Alone is a collection of stories that will resonate with the reader with words of hope, comfort and empathy.  Whether sharing the first initial discovery of depression, how they sought help or giving words of hope that depression can be managed, the authors all tackle the lie that you must suffer in solitude and isolation. With courage and honesty, these stories give a glimpse into the mind of the depressed individual. While you will not find a cure for depression in these pages, you will find a sense of community. You might find yourself thinking, "That's EXACTLY how I feel!"  You will find words of comfort. You will find support.  And when all is said and done, you will find that you are Not Alone.