What is this world that I behold, wrapped in golden light?
What this sense of joy that slowly arises in my heart
and spreads throughout my being?
What is this new surge of life, new yet old, vaguely remembered
yet earnestly sought for?
What is this mystery of life that wells up within,
that appears in the morning and does not fade with the day?
Why now do I hear birds' songs, notice the flowers, watch children laugh,
see the intricate beauty of this wondrous world?
Why at this time does creative energy grow within that wishes,
Why do I have confidence that time will bring some wonderful events,
some challenges, and , of course, some sorrows
and not wish to flee away but to stay and to live?
It was not always thus in recent months.
Darkness has been my companion, dwelling at times within,
stalking my steps from behind, a dark specter
threatening, grasping, invading.
This gloom, this monster, so poisonous, so pervasive,
spreading its subtle and acid venom through my being,
bringing senseless tears to my eyes,
apathy to my body and mind,
a longing for death to my heart.
Easily it removes all joy from life.
It casts a gray mist over all
that is lovely or innocent,
makes nothing attractive, nothing appealing.
It gradually crushes all confidence, sense of worth, and
finally makes life so intolerable that death seems sweet.
Where has the darkness fled as I face this new day?
Is it still a hidden companion, ready to take hold of me
at any moment when I least suspect its arrival?
Can I be sure that this monster has been defeated or
will it ever lie in wait for me, coloring all my experiences
with silent fear and dreadful anticipation of the worst?
Means have been taken to drive the darkness out.
Medication works its wonders,
discussion with others opens new windows on life
and the difficult roads it may ask me to tread.
More than this I cannot expect.
But within a loud voice cries out:.
Never darkness again! Never depression! Never, never, never!
Whether the darkness will return or not, I cannot know.
All that I can do now is to be faithful,
faithful in taking the medication I need,
faithful in trusting that life has a meaning and purpose for me,
a unique individual, the only one such in this universe at any time.
I can also use all the strength of my will to affirm
what was slowly stolen from me.
What was this? Essentially a sense of life.
Depression crushes and destroys this.
But life is something that cannot die.
By destroying the body, one makes life depart
but as long as it is held
safe within the shell of the body, it will not be overcome.
When depression lifts, life returns.
It begins to show off its beauties everywhere.
What before could bring pain-the sight of people
vibrantly alive, eagerly taking up activities,
laughing, enjoying family and friendships,
creatively spending their days-now attracts.
Nature appears to be magnificent both in its grand manifestations
and in its intricate subtleties.
More importantly, the beauties inside one's own being
start to seem real.
I can like myself. I can even love myself.
I too am a child of the universe, wondrous in my very existence.
With life welling up within once more, the eyes look outward again.
The loveliness of others is recognized. The sweet smile of that friend.
The infectious laugh of that stranger. The grace of the runner.
The strength of the builder. The skill of those who work with their hands.
The attractive wisdom of the old. The potential of the young.
Once again light pervades the world.
It is not that the darkness of suffering and pain has disappeared from view.
This darkness is still present and calls aloud for redress.
But now the darkness is not within
nor is it a close companion of each moment.
Somehow, in some mysterious way, life has reasserted its presence.
One could dance and sing for joy: I'm alive! I'm alive!
Joy comes with the morning and
this morning is sheer joy.
Internet Mental Health (www.mentalhealth.com) copyright © 1995-2011 by Phillip W. Long, M.D.