“I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable.” – by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
I know you want to be well. Your spouse, your parents, your friends, your kids, your doctor, and your therapist all know you want to be well. Who, when given the option, would wish to remain mired in a pit of despair, back aching, exhausted, foggy-brained, hopeless, unable to function in the most basic of ways?
The question is, are you willing to be well? Before you say, “Uh, yeah! Duh!”, think for a minute. No, more like, feel for a minute. Close your eyes and focus your attention (however fractured) on that place in your heart that knows the truth about who you are. Search it. Ask it: “Am I willing to be well?” Listen for the answer.
This may take some practice. Especially since, chances are, you’re pissed that anyone is even questioning your willingness to recover from clinical depression (I was, too, initially). Whatever the answer, “yes” or “no,” it’s okay. There is no right answer, and there is no judgment; only a reading of where you are right now in your journey to recover from depression. It’s kind of like using a thermometer to take your temperature when you have a fever. You don’t feel ashamed just because your temp is 101.2° instead of 98.6°.
Connecting with that heart space within yourself may be especially problematic because depression, by its very nature, dulls your emotions and makes it difficult to know what you are feeling about anything. This wrapped-in-cotton-wool state of existence is exacerbated by any antidepressant or anti-anxiety meds you may be taking.
Even so, practice. Ask. As you’re lying in bed at night, unable to sleep: “Am I willing to be well?” When you’re in the shower: “Am I willing to be well?” When you’re struggling to get a meal together for your family and/or yourself: “Am I willing to be well?” In the quiet moments of your day, when you least expect it, the answer will come.
BONUS EXERCISE: Please do not do this exercise unless you are seeing a therapist. Take your journal (one of those 5/$1.00, single-subject spiral notebooks will work just fine) and a pen and, in your dominant hand (the one you normally write with), write: “Am I willing to be well?” Then transfer the pen to your non-dominant hand and allow it to write an answer. You should only do this exercise if you are seeing a therapist because non-dominant-hand writing can unlock some serious stuff; should anything major come up, you’ll need a pro to help you process it.
Next time: “Willingness: The Key to Recovery.”
(c) 2010 by Patricia R. Henschen