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.