The Gift of Depression

By Jeff Foster

Image by Guy Cohen Photography

Looking back, there was great intelligence in my 20+ years of depression. There was actually grace inherent in life bringing me to my knees. (Sometimes life brings you to your knees so you can finally be present to your own knees!). There was healing there, right at the very core of my loss of interest in going to work or seeing friends, my abandonment of all hope for the future, my total disillusionment in external, second-hand meaning, my nausea at all things ‘spiritual’. Even my lack of interest in getting out of bed held wonders.

Through my depression, life was stripping me of all my illusions, all distractions, everything that was not real, forcing me to stay so, so close to myself, making me remember what remains after everything external is stripped away. Depression forced me to remember my own presence, essential and free, a miracle, bursting with life. My own presence, yes! - so simple, yet so overlooked, had always been here, closer than breathing, more undoubtable than doubt! My own simple presence - the presence of life itself - was the gift, the Source, what I had always longed for.

The whole search had been inverted, since a ‘self’ can never find what it seeks as long as it seeks it. The false ‘self’ needed to fail in its search for presence to be revealed as the ground and essence of all things. The wave cannot find the ocean - it can only be it.

I AM HERE. 

I EXIST.

I AM.

NOW. 

And that is the greatest miracle of all.

Sometimes that’s where you have to begin, at the very beginning. You have to get back to the origin of life, the place prior to even the “I Am”, the raw Unnameable. Depression was the ultimate failure of the ‘me’, and its eventual surrender. It was a spiritual reboot, an awakening, for sure.

My longing to die had secretly been my longing to live, to break open my fragile heart to a sacred universe, to touch my own power.

I know this is not a common, or even popular view of depression: that it contains intelligence, and powerful medicine, so very needed in our weary world. So let’s begin a new conversation. Honouring the medical model of depression, but going infinitely deeper. Never turning away from life’s whispers.

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