In Personal on 10 April, 2009 at 8:22 am

I celebrate.

I, admittedly, am not a heavily religious person.  I weigh my own spirituality equally with and against the idea that those two concepts – religion and spirituality – do not necessarily go hand in hand.  On this particular Easter, however, I feel compelled to speak up, if only for my own carthasis.

Under everyday circumstances, I make a point of not openly discussing the role depression has played in my life.  It is a rather grim picture to paint, and there is an ever-present stigma attached to it.  Few people understand it, and most simply don’t want to.  I can’t say I blame them.

I can say with certainty that I handed over the last 2 years of my life to depression.  For the most part, the memories that I do have of those two years are a blur, save for the mornings I was able to function on.  On those mornings which I remember, the feeling of truly not recognizing my own image in the mirror is forever seared into me.  And I’d like to believe that the reason I can not forget that feeling is because somebody, or something greater than myself, insisted all along that I would not be forgotten.

The person who I didn’t recognize, every morning, threw her arms up in absolute despair, angry with God.  How could You leave me out in this barren, eternal Cold. I would self-righteously adopt the attitude on those days that nobody was going to heal Sarah but Sarah, and the loneliness it fostered bled from one day into the next.

I do want to stop and take a moment to point out that though it felt dehabilitating, the depression I suffered could have been worse.  I made it to and through an extremely fast-paced, rigorous course in culinary school, an environment that is quite chaotic and psychologically perverse in and of itself.  If nothing else, I developed a thick skin the hard way and learned that when you feel as if you truly have nothing left to lose, you have everything to gain.

So I reached out.  I’d discovered that life could be worth loving again, by immersing myself in something I loved, no matter how tough it may have been.  Confidantes were developed, walls came down, and I was determined to soak in the good days as my reserves.  And with each good day that came along, I began to feel…..lifted. A continual out-of-body moment.  On the not-so-good days, I found myself seeking out solace in the fluidity of life and the world around me rather than my self-loathing.

Just after New Years’, I’d rented Religulous, Bill Maher’s documentary on organized religion and the more questionable tenets of faith that believers buy into.  I’m sure Maher was successful in appealing to the more agnostic atheist set, particularly around my age.  But the nervy, academic stance he took throughout the film only served to affirm my core beliefs: His pointed heartlessness spoke measures.  While I consider myself a smidgen universalist and, in turn, would never assail another person’s spirituality;  my path to God is firmly centered in Christ.  Because even when all I saw was darkness, there would be enough light to keep me going.  In the most comical of settings – JesusLand – Maher confronted a worker about the monotheistic aspect of the Christian faith versus the holy trinity. The answer – that the lord can take on different forms just as water – was the profound truth I had been trying to locate amongst my frustration with God lo those months before.  I didn’t have to grasp at straws – He was waiting.

The next morning, I woke up feeling unbelievably restored, but with an added air of confidence I couldn’t quite place.  Weeks later in a conversation about looking back on life, a confidante remarked, “For what it’s worth, these last 2 years will turn out to be the most valuable years of your life, because you learned how to survive, even when you wanted most to give up on yourself.”  That’s it.

I replied, “And I call that Grace.”


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