Quote of the day: DEPRESSION

November 3, 2012


Depression is a great mystery. I’ve talked with a number of experts, and they all say that there’s much we don’t know about it. People will often say, “I just can’t understand why so-and-so committed suicide,” but I think perhaps I do: depression is utterly exhausting, and he or she needed the rest. What I don’t understand is why some people survive depression and thrive on the other side of that darkness. That’s the real mystery.

Paradoxically, to survive depression you have to give yourself over to it. You have to embrace the darkness, or enter into the darkness, or let yourself become the darkness, and try not to judge yourself for it. You also have to try as much as possible to honor whatever small signs of progress might come as you work your way through that darkness, or as it works its way through you.

The second and third times I was depressed, I kept a journal. At the start of each day I’d write the date, and under it I’d list two or three tiny signs of progress, like “Got up at 10:00 this morning,” instead of 10:30. Or “Took a ten-minute bike ride today,” instead of staying in my room all day. That journal, which I kept for several months, helped me see that I was making progress – but not by the standards I too often use to measure progress now, when I might want to write a bestseller or give a speech that brings people to their feet. In depression you have to follow William Stafford’s advice: asked how he managed to write a poem every day, he said, “Easy. I lowered my standards.” [Laughs]

— Parker J. Palmer, interviewed in The Sun

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