Over the past months, which have been ones of personal transformation and great spiritual growth for me, Speaking of Faith has been something I look forward to, return to, look to for guidance, and delight in. One of the first programs I downloaded was your show on depression, since I was quite depressed this past summer. I have listened to it twice, and wrote down some of Parker Palmer's comments, to read again and again, as I grappled with depression. Things are better now, for the moment. I am coming to recognize that depression may be a pattern that will continue to recur in my life, but one hopes with lessening impact, and for shorter periods. Buddhist teacher Sylvia Boorstein talks about our yogic patterns as like a stain in a t-shirt - it never goes away, but it fades. I think depression may be one of those patterns for me.
I was saddened to read that you are tired and feeling a bit closer to that dark place of depression. However, I guess I am not too surprised. In the unedited cuts of your recent interview with Parker Palmer, I heard you express your stress and fatigue. I related to it - I am something of a driven overachiever myself, whose personal journey over the past year has been one of slowing down, taking care of myself, and learning to look inward to find the divine within and love myself. An ongoing process that involves feeling pain, and also learning to feel great joy, equanimity, and contentment.
I could tell in that recent interview with Parker Palmer that you were driving yourself too hard and not taking care of yourself. I recognized the syndrome. So I just wanted to write to do whatever I can to massage your feet, as it were. I know you remember this wisdom from Parker Palmer's therapist, but I will repeat it to you again, because it has offered me such solace and wisdom over the past six months or so since I first heard it. Can you see your depression, not as the hand of an enemy, holding you down, but as the hand of a friend, pressing you down onto ground on which it is safe to stand?
You won't be a failure, or unlovable, if you give yourself a break, don't live up to every single expectation, don't fulfill every single responsibility, or meet every demand that is made of you. What I have learrned from giving myself a break and deciding that I don't have to be perfect, is that I can slowly regain myself, but a better, kinder, wiser self. I am facing the challenges of the economic climate with greater equanimity than I would ever have thought possible, and all because I made a decision last summer, as I realized that I felt life was more trouble than it was worth, that this was profoundly not true - and if I believed it, then I needed to make some pretty radical changes to get to a different place. My survival, and getting to a place where I valued it, HAD to be my priority. Now, months later, I am slowly healing, and find myself having the strength and energy to help others.
All this to say: take care of yourself, would you? :) You are precious.
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