March 29, 2007

Deepest, Darkest





















friends:13~13%





family:22~22%





art:17~17%





stories:13~13%





outsider stance:10~10%





motherhood:20~20%





depression:5~5%

In my class this week we are working on pie-chart representations of who we are. What are the things that shape us into the people we are becoming?

At the beginning of the class, we brainstorm a little to get the juices flowing... friends, family, and music are usually some of the first horses out of the gate. A little later on I am writing ambition, curiousity, and indecision on the board. Today one student matter-of-factly stated that she'd dedicated a 7% slice of her pie to "general freaking out," and a few minutes later I went to the board and wrote, "depression."

I don't know if anyone included this late-breaking addition in their chart. (I don't collect them, although we do walk around the room and take a quick look at what others have done.) But even writing it felt like some kind of righteous breaking of silence.

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, someone I love deeply struggled with a bout of clinical depression that could quite easily have taken her from this world. Trying to be present for her through that time, and feeling close to helpless in the face of such crushing pain, has forever changed the way I think about healthcare, about hope, about suicide, about healing, about mental health, about compassion. I saw another human being at her deepest and darkest, and then I was blessed to witness the miracle of her re-emergence from that place. And although I would never wish either side of our journey on anyone, I am grateful to have lived through that experience. And I hope I make a little more room in the world for people to talk about mental health issues, because if the disease doesn't get you, the (completely unwarranted) shame just might.

(Thanks to the women of Sunday Scribbling
for their continuing inspiration.
And if you want to have fun with pie charts,
you can head on over here.)

19 comments:

Bohemian Mom said...

What a great pie chart and inspiring idea.
Powerful writing...I think it's time that mental health issues lose the stigma that's still attached to it.
That negative stigma and people's ignorance about the facts is what keeps many people sick when they shouldn't be.

Kamsin said...

Thought provoking post. Thank you for sharing your pie chart. I'm sure your "confession" of how much depression has shaped you did allow others in your class to acknowledge this part of themselves too.

gautami tripathy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gautami tripathy said...

Now this I call original. I absolutely pie charts. Part of my teaching, after all. Loved the analysis.


gautami

Stranger in the Mirror

Jane said...

Great post! My ex-husband is bipolar and just living through that for as many years as I did made me so much more aware of the silent emotional suffering people experience and the dark places they go to. I never take a single day of my happiness for granted. Happy Friday :))

Wendy said...

you are one amazing woman!
bless you for all that you do.

Bongga Mom said...

Thank you for coming out and sharing this part of your life. Your honesty is very refreshing.

Wenda said...

Thanks for writing out loud and so well about depression. As I'm recovering from my own most recent bout of depression and share a support group with others in various stages of their recovery, I'm a big fan of breaking through the stigma and secrecy. Thanks, too, for the pie chart link.

Wenda said...

PS ~ How did you add that Sunday Scribbling masthead link to your sidebar? I might be able to figure this out on my own, but it might take me all night and I'd rather be writing. Can you help?

Crafty Green Poet said...

Sounds like an interesting exercise and thought provoking words about depression too.

Stacy said...

So very well said.

colleen said...

Mine as about living through depression as well. So long ago.

UnfoldingRose said...

As someone who has recently lost someone who i loved to suicide, i am becoming a huge advocate for breaking down the stigmas around depression and mental illness. It takes great courage and strength to identify and acknowledge that part of ourselves: to actually do the "righteous breaking of silence". Especially when society generally prefers to hide its head.

Regina Clare Jane said...

There is so much depression out there- I think all of us have to face our own or someone we love with this disease...
I am glad your friend was able to come out of her depression- we can learn so much from someone who has been in this place...

Tori said...

Thank you for sharing your chart and story. My hope is that the more people share their experiences with depression the more it will become accepted in society as a "legitimate" condition free of character judgement.

Jone said...

The pie chart is so visual and your piece powerful. It is a crime that mental health issues are not taken seriously.

boliyou said...

Great pie chart. Very interesting idea.

You're right about the shame of depression; it's part of the disease, in fact. Our culture doesn't tolerate much in the way of what's perceived as weakness. I hope they learn differently.

Jenn said...

Wouldn't it be interesting to do this exercise with the same people in 10 years, 20 years?

chest of drawers said...

There are a lot of things that people can be ashamed of - depression should not be one of them. Very thought provoking post.