Depression: Reflection

What rings true for me may be alien to you. Our experiences of life are very different. Portfolio of scenes, interlinked, overlaid. Fragments of memories, evolving contexts, friendships loved and lost. The ephemera we collect through life: photographs, clothing, books, records. Memories. More books. Our perspectives shift with age and experience. The things will never make us happy. Our legacy is built of more than brick.

Image © Julian Stodd

Image © Julian Stodd

Our memories of Robin Williams will be tinged with sadness: the outpourings of love and respect coloured by our inability to change the tracks of time. Of loss. Of loneliness.

For all the fame and wealth, to be consumed by your own demons: who can imagine the despair and desperation? Sometimes the barriers we put up prevent others reaching out to us, reaching in to us. We can’t be helped by words alone. For all their power to make us laugh, to make us smile, words too are ephemeral, swatted away by time and circumstance.

Depression is not being sad: depression is about being on a different island. Out of sight, away from other people.

Depression is being surrounded by a sea you cannot swim.

Depression is a perspective that you cannot alter, a frame you cannot shift.

Depression is about stigma and weakness: or maybe that’s what we fear. Who wants to shout about it? It makes me sad to even think about it.

I read once that there must be an evolutionary benefit to depression: the theory being that perhaps those people who experience it develop empathy. I think it’s true. You cannot swim for someone else, but maybe you can shine a light, show the way, even if the footsteps we take are always our own.

For me, depression was like slowly wading out to sea: past your ankles, your knees, your waist, your shoulders, up to your neck, and then the moment when your feet leave the sandy floor and you start to float. Just like that: gentle, but aimless. A lethargy. A loss of direction. Slowly, you become someone else, someone left behind, left outside. Alone on your island.

Redemption is a personal thing: for me, structure and time. Imposing a structure slowly allowed me to find perspective. A toe nudges the ground, your foot touches. You start to walk, pushing through the water. Slowly. Wading, splashing, emerging onto the beach. The cold of the water is just a memory: something that happened to someone else. Because you are someone else: the experiences of life change us, alter us. We learn through depression just as we learn through school.

Some people spend a lifetime wading through tumultuous seas between small islands of calm. Sometimes, they never make it ashore. Fame, money, friends, love: for some, it’s not enough. It’s too far away, to faint to see or hear.

For many, the journey back is slow but steady: depression can be contextual, triggered by loss or grief. We heal. We emerge. Changed, maybe stronger, maybe different.

Should i be ashamed to say i suffered from depression? Lest you think me weak? Lest you fear i’ll fall again? Does writing this expose part of me that i want to keep hidden? No: that was a previous life. The past that makes us into our present self.

And sharing is part of learning.

Image © Julian Stodd

Image © Julian Stodd

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
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16 Responses to Depression: Reflection

  1. Merche says:

    Thank you for sharing.

  2. One of the most common things you feel when you are depressed is that you are completely alone, isolated by your feelings, that no one could possibly understand how you feel because you barely understand it yourself. People are often relieved when you admit to depression as it gives them the courage to do the same. Staying silent about it feeds the depression and adds to the isolation and loneliness.

  3. Porl D says:

    Articulate and authentic, thanks for sharing.

    I saw a definition the other day that depression is less of an absence of happiness than an absence of vitality. This rings true for me – the deeper the sea rises about us, the less we even want to swim.

    • Beautiful idea of in a sense relating happiness and vitality. I do think they are very much interrelated and indeed when we are happy we feel so much energy and desire to go out there and DO things, embrace the world and go for it. When depressed I am not sure if the lack of happiness is what diminishes our vitality or vice verse. But both of them are lost in the deep see and it makes it difficult to swim to get them back

  4. caroly says:

    Good article Julian and thank you for your honesty. We are all touched by this in different ways and the more its talked about, the more I hope its properly recognised and help is offered. It’s so sad about RW, my heart goes out to his family. x

  5. Pingback: Depression: Reflection Julian Stodd | E-Learnin...

  6. tanyalau says:

    Wow, beautiful post, beautifully written. Thanks Julian

  7. Nick says:

    Thought provoking Julian. There’s nothing out there quite like your writing, reading your raw thoughts. Thanks for sharing so much with your audience.

  8. It is in this changing of our selves while living this complex life that we find out how to make sense of loss and grief, pain and confusion. Of misery. I admire your transparency and empathy and I can see in between your lines how is it that you could emerge and find the beach again. You are wonderful and generous, thank you!! I send you a loving, big and tight hug of empathy as I also splashed, swam and emerged in a far away from home, but beautiful beach 🙂
    Keep the flow!

  9. It is not easy to share sometimes. I would like to thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences on this subject and putting it into words of conveyance.

  10. Reblogged this on Just a writer or a thought producer! and commented:
    Please read and share !

  11. Pingback: Tempo in learning | Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

  12. benoitdavid says:

    I wish I saw this post when it came out, as I was resolving my depression. I feel that talking about it with people after the fact is strengthening my recovered/augmented state of mind, even though that sometimes it may backfire on me as not all can either handle/understand it or worst, use it against me. I see it as a forced introspection into one’s self, which becomes an opportunity to grow… and yes, empathy is one distinct beneficiary.

  13. LearnKotch says:

    Great piece Julian and so relevant upon hearing today the news that RW may have been suffering from a sever form of dementia.

    Takes courage to do what you did and tell your story and for this all your readers are grateful.

    Talk soon.

    P.S. Nick is right – there is nothing out there quite like your writing – you have a great way with words 😉

  14. Pingback: Taking Pride | Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

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