By: Sandy Churchill
I have dealt with anxiety all my life and intermittent depression that has reared its ugly head off and on over the years, and never have I seen a silver lining to either condition. Truly, they can be debilitating, blocking joy, stirring insomnia, and sapping energy on so many levels. But a couple “bright sides” have peeked through in recent years.
First, though suffering is never something to wish for, some moments of anxiety and depression have revealed the loyalty, kindness, and compassion of some family members and friends. They have an opportunity to help—whether it’s providing a listening ear, giving words of encouragement, offering to be a walking buddy (since exercise nearly always helps somewhat by increasing endorphins), or sharing companionship to do errands, cook together, or plan get-togethers.
Following the birth of one child, I devoured Brooke Shields’ book, Down Came the Rain, a postpartum depression account that provided the comfort of knowing I was not alone in the struggle. A surprising “aha! moment” in the reading of that book was my discovery that depression knows no degree of wealth, fame, or other qualifier. It can strike anyone, at any age, any time.
Christian pop artist Mandisa recently released her Out of the Dark album, which highlight’s the singer’s own journey and battle with depression. I recently shared some of her song links with a young relative dealing with depression, which offered encouragement while she awaits a medication change to “kick in” and help restore hope in feeling good again.
I have had the privilege to offer encouragement when other friends and family members are in the “down” moments and they, in turn, lift me up when a phase is particularly challenging. Postpartum is probably the most well-known phase of situational and hormonal depression, though job lay-offs, financial strife, health conditions, relationship break-ups, infertility, menopause, empty-nest, and large-scale transitions can also heighten anxiety and bring on torrential bouts of depression.
So the silver lining in the dark clouds of depression and anxiety is our opportunity to connect with others when we need support and then help others when we are feeling better. These “kindred spirits” among family and friends have grown closer to me over the years as we have shared the personal journey of overcoming some difficult days, weeks, and months. The reminder is that, though the troubles are real, there is help through medication, counseling, and myriad coping tips—but through it all—we are never truly alone.