Monday, September 5, 2016

Fuel Rations

I’ve been writing and thinking about what sustains us. Amid my wondering a thought occurred to me, what if each life comes with a fuel ration, a certain amount of fuel to be spent in living? Since then I’ve been pondering how that fuel is spent.

There are those young ones who burn fast and bright, a blaze of light, here then gone. Some would call it a blaze of glory, but I see nothing glorious about it. There are some who spend some of their fuel fighting disease or addiction. 

What I was wondering about most though, was those who live with depression. It seems like depression is a slow leak of that fuel of life. Sometimes it’s subtle and the fuel seeps out unnoticed at first. The only sign, the colorful oil slicks it leaves behind. Thankfully, there are many ways to plug the leak once it is discovered, some work for one person, but not for another. Sometimes it works for a while and then the plug comes loose. Those are hard days.

Hell, every one of us has had days when life feels like a mountain to climb and we’re not sure we have the fuel to take another step. Think of a day you’ve had like that and multiply it by 10, or 20, or so. We all need help on days like that, assistance in taking the next step, or just someone to sit beside us on the trail while we catch our breath. No one should ever feel ashamed or embarrassed to say, “Hey, I could use a shoulder to lean on while I take this next step,” or to ask for a shoulder to cry on, or an ear to bend. It’s difficult enough to ask for help, but imagine asking for help with something that we have created so much stigma around, like depression.

That’s a step we all need to take together on this journey, changing our collective perspective on depression. It’s at best a challenging, at worst a debilitating, fact of life for many. It’s not an imagined problem, or something someone should just get over. Someone can have many glorious, positive aspects of their life, and still suffer with depression, and the suffering is very real. The suffering is real for the person with depression and for those who love them. 

Look around you, there is someone you know whose life is touched by depression. Let’s spend a little of our fuel in understanding and accepting, in making it safe for someone to reach out for help, to recognize that they even need to reach out. Luckily there are ways to treat depression, to make it a little or even a lot easier to live with, but they are still living with it. And we still have to work harder at removing the stigma surrounding it. 

So let’s find ways to be there along the way up the mountain, to help each other take the next step, or to just pause and breathe together on the journey. Let us spend some of the fuel of our life simply walking together without judgement about what we think should be enough to sustain another. You never know how much fuel they already had to spend just to get to that point.