(I debated adding this post but some small voice inside confirmed someone somewhere needed it.)
An odd title and truthfully it really doesn't have much of anything to do with this blog post. Well, actually it does but not in the truest sense of how titles work. This blog is actually about beauty, pain and transformation. So in that sense the title is pretty accurate since a chrysalis is closely related to all these elements. Yet, really this post is simply (or not so simply) about depression.
I watch TED often enough that I finally broke down and created a membership so I could save favorite talks and have more access to further information on the talks I enjoyed. To be honest there are many TED talks that have a hidden agenda and others are just a lot of superfluous hot air but there are many talks that touch my spirit in such a way that I am certain others must feel the same way I do; especially when the view count climbs upwards and upwards in mere moments.
One of the talks that struck a chord with me was a talk by Andrew Solomon titled 'Depression: The Secret We All Share'. I suppose it struck a chord with me because I have personally dealt with depression in my life but also I have known many people that have suffered, and suffered deeply through depression. Yet, I am also reminded of the silence and taboos related to depression or any mental illness that are so pervasive in our society that makes it so difficult for sufferers to get the help they need.
Truly, if you have depression (or any related mental illness) it is often that no one really wants to listen. Listening is a painful experience not just for the teller but for the listener as well. I think depression, especially when relating to the gloved malady of suicide, too deeply reminds many people of their own mortality. Mortality is a topic often strenuously avoided in the best of situations, so often people with depression suffer silently and keep the way they feel a shameful secret. Sadly, this secret they will carry to their graves is all too often the same secret that will bring them there.
Mr. Solomon begins his talk with a deeply evocative poem by Emily Dickinson who by all historical accounts herself suffered from depression...
I Felt a Funeral In My Brain
Emily Dickinson 1830–1886
I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading - treading - till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through -
And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum -
Kept beating - beating - till I thought
My mind was going numb -
And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space - began to toll,
As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race,
Wrecked, solitary, here -
And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down -
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing - then -
How many readers can relate to this poem? How many that can relate to this poem would never admit it in a public setting but would merely clear their throat, nod deeply and sagely and say, 'Doesn't she have an incredible way with words!'. Because to say, 'I know this, I understand this. This is me,' may quite possibly the quickest way to alienate everyone within earshot; and through gossip and growing conversation through the grapevine begin to change the reactions of even those closest to you.
The result? More and more often, for the one suffering depression, the silence deepens and those suffering deep depression take the steps that release themselves from any furthering of the already asphyxiating pain they already experience. For, in reality, to deepen the silence is more often a death sentence than a noble gesture. This is one of the rare cases where silence is not golden but only black.
So why did this Ted talk resonate so much with me? Because it asks for the silence to be shattered. It doesn't ask this in so many words but the subtext is there.
Why write about it? Because I hope that by taking time to compose a brief post and shedding some small light on depression & speaking about depression that someone somewhere may find some connection and someone else may find some patience to be a supportive ear for a sufferer.
This post is permission for some to speak and for others to hear.
For more information see the wiki article on Depression. Also CNN had a great write up by Kat Kinsman titled 'Going Public With Depression'; included in her article are a lot of great essay-links, information and additional links for support--I recommend reading a few of the essay links she included.
So if you are a sufferer or know a sufferer do not be silent. Speak out. Because without facing the struggle there can be no change in these experiences. So please listen or choose to be heard because sometimes there can be beauty in the breakdown. Just ask a butterfly.
**If you find you need immediate help contact/dial the local suicide crisis/prevention organization in your area:
**For help with the related issue of self-harming please check out The Butterfly Project
**Post Secret supports the IAMALIVE crisis prevention network which is a growing resource for those in need.