To be honest, the past month dragged me into a convoluted state. I had to make ends meet by finishing my writing deadlines. These were interspersed with a lot of things to think about – worries about physical and financial preparations for a retreat I was about to attend. Then, I focused on the rest of the retreat during the last few days of Holy week. After the retreat, however, an inner storm has stirred up. I had less energy to write and too much cluelesness to mull over. Up until now it has been a long period of me trying to come to my senses.
It is quite hard to admit, but I felt depressed. Like every average person, I have my own share of personal issues and concerns. They all make me feel uncertain. I am stepping upon the instability and unpredictability of life, fearing the uncharted regions of the unknown. I sometimes feel like trying to hold something on water as if it is solid. The more I struggle, the more I get drowned.
But this kind of depression is more than just psychological or mental condition. Medicine and psychology often pin down that “abnormal” experience into something clinical and void of humanity. Yet I believe it is more than just abnormality or plain sadness. Depression is always an intersection of exterior mess and interior contemplation and I have had a direct experience of it. It was something that cannot just be accorded to as an “illness” or “disorder”.
Thomas Moore, a psychotherapist and spiritual author, writes in his book The Care of the Soul: “Depression grants the gift of experience not as a literal fact but as an attitude toward yourself.” Reflecting Moore’s energy, it is not about glorifying depression. It is neither glamorizing medical infirmity nor justifying our emotional woundedness; it is, in fact, honoring a temporal experience, an opening of the soul towards its richness as a point of becoming aware of what it is to be human. Because in such awareness, the core of depression is revealed, like the haunting yet magnificent truth poetically expressed by Kahlil Gibran: “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”
Because to rest is to deeply touch the stillness of the soul.
I think – and feel – for the first time, I am attempting to share this soft spot, this hidden shadow. It is a crisis of the soul. I am wrapped within that mysterious black hole. Encouraging myself to reveal it is to enlighten this darkness more. Love is precisely paradoxical, and within such truth, darkness dazzles like light, similar to how most mystics had always described. Therefore, even in such seemingly absence of Love, I have a deep knowing that I am never unloved. Being deeply honest brings back that awareness that Love is always present.
I have a friend in her late fifties whom we fondly see as everybody’s mother. Her husband died about a decade ago. She had become so depressed that it took her some 2 years hiding and grieving. Her depression had cost her her health. She became paralyzed with stroke and some inexplainable illness. In one of her dreams, a cure was revealed. This cure, a specially made turmeric powder, became an inspiration of her recovery. She shared this wisdom and helped people heal and change their lives. Along the way, we were able to become friends and connect our souls. She was the first person I told my epiphany: she was not really depressed after all. She was just in deep rest.
It was a vivid revelation to me. I am sharing this basic but timeless suffering of humanity. And it is never an empty echo; being “depressed” is a melodious call to have a “deep rest”. To rest is to pause from the speed of the world. To rest is to breathe (Filipino: rest, pahinga; breathing, paghinga) – to breathe deeply and become aware that Life, amid the disturbing stirring of sadness and void, is always present. Returning to that constancy, I believe I have no need to be depressed. I am called to rest deeply in the cradle of my inner joy. Because to rest is to deeply touch the stillness of the soul. By doing that, I am always sure that I am in touch with Love.