Hello Depression. . .Thanks for Everything.

Melanie Barrett

February 25, 2021

Life can be a beautiful, chaotic, affirming, and uncertain struggle and I have never been more keenly aware of this paradox than I am right now in the throes of a global pandemic.  I have faced a lot of adversity and loss in my life and I have coexisted with depression since I was quite young.  Right now, I am cherishing these experiences because they have given me a comfortable familiarity with my emotional self that many people haven’t had. 

Thrown into a very isolating, anxiety-ridden, year of perpetual change, so many people are struggling with the malaise of depression in a way that is foreign and frightening.  It has crept up on them, despite their best efforts to remain positive and grounded.  I’ve talked to so many people who have no other words to describe life right now than, “blah”.  They are moving through the activities of daily life with limited verve and diminished joy and they aren’t quite certain how they arrived at such a low.   In effect, the world itself seems to be existing in a state of profound grief with all of the heaviness and disillusionment that comes with this.

In the midst of this, I find myself saying,
                     "thank you past adversity,"                     "thank you past loss,"                   "thank you depression,"

      "thank you struggle, for giving me the strength and skills I need to ride this pandemic wave and find the beauty in every day, to find the positive affirmation of life in this time of communal sorrow. "

The long relationship I've had with the demons of depression has given me an acute awareness of my emotions and when they are moving in a negative direction before I reach the dreaded, daily “blah”.  I know how to search for joy in the darkness, how to find opportunity in the dismal, how to find resilience when shouldering the weight of sorrow.   Without the experiences of my life, I would find the current pandemic struggle so much greater.  I feel for those who are sinking to these depths as they never have before and who are meeting these demons for perhaps the first time.  And so… I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to befriend depression a long time ago. 

In conversation with one of my grade 12 students yesterday, she recognized the same thing.  She told me how much she has been able to positively adapt and bounce back during the pandemic when just a few years ago, this would have had her curling in a ball and not wanting to get out of bed.  It was pushing through anxiety and facing struggle that has given her the ability to be resilient and successful now.   

“I remember what you told me when I was younger, Miss.  We learn when our brains struggle. I’m glad I struggled with confidence and fear in grade 9 and 10.  I feel so much more prepared to face this than so many of my peers.  People are really having a hard time. Everyone seems so sad, but I'm finding brightness in every day.”  Like me, she hadn’t thought that someday she would be saying thank you to her past struggles.   

While I may not have recognized the value of this relationship before, I see it so clearly now.  Although I do not welcome depression with open arms, I am comfortable in its presence and never let it take control.  It is one less thing to which I have to adapt, one less thing to learn to understand in this time of global flux.  For this small mercy, I am grateful to you, depression… now, get lost!