Another day of good friends, food, and fun came to a close, and as my headlights guided me home, one thought racing through my mind prevailed over all others: how can I possibly feel so empty?
For those who suffer from depression, it has a way of sucking the life out of everything we do. Out of us. People and things that held so much meaning mere moments before, can be suddenly stripped of all value for no apparent reason. My friend and fellow Catholic Geek, Matt Bowman, has written quite eloquently about depression and its effects, and I highly recommend his insight on this subject. There’s nothing I can add to the topic that might compare with Matt’s words, but in the long, dark car ride home, a second and crucial thought followed my first one: what keeps me going?
For any of us with depression, what keeps us going? No, I don’t necessarily mean, why haven’t we tried to… end it all. Not everyone with depression faces that temptation, thank God. (Although that doesn’t necessarily mean an “easier” time. Call it a form of Survivor’s Guilt, wondering if you have any right to compare or place yourself beside those who do endure life-ending temptations. Yep, depression is a cruel slave-master, punishing you for suffering, and punishing you for not suffering “enough.” In the end, you just suffer.) What I mean is, why do we go about our daily lives, doing normal routines, spending time with friends or family, partaking in activities and forms of entertainment, and so on, when it may just turn to ash a few moments later? Why go on; why try? When all we can see is darkness, and all we can feel is a hole inside us, and even with friends and family standing at our sides we can’t seem to overcome it, why should we not despair?
The very problem provides an answer. Darkness and emptiness are privations; they imply that something is missing. A hole exists because something has been removed. That means that somewhere out there, there is something to go in that hole. Somewhere there is a light that can dispel the darkness. Even if we cannot see it, even if we have no idea where it may be, or even what it may be, we can know it’s out there. Hope. Perhaps we never find it in this lifetime, but we can keep going because we might, and as Catholics, we’re promised that eventually we will. As the Blessed Virgin said at Lourdes, “I can’t promise you happiness in this life, but in the next.” If we keep going, we win sooner or later.
The fulfillment of hope may be slow, but it’s sure. We know it’s out there.