Can Depression Be a Friend?

olive chan —  March 4, 2013 — 7 Comments

I have a friend. I haven’t seen her for a while now. She tends to come and go as she pleases. Every so often, she will drop in, stay a while and leave when she thinks she’s kept me company for long enough. Whenever she’s around, my days need to be re-organized. Hers is a quiet sort of demanding.

Can Depression Be a Friend?


Most people don’t understand her. If I’m honest, neither do I. Most people are also afraid of her. I don’t think that I am anymore. But if I was, it would only be the slightest amount. You see, she’s quite gentle. Her footsteps are light. So light, in fact, that I usually don’t notice her arrival until she’s settled comfortably in my home. That’s how she arrived this time, anyway. Perhaps it’s her unpredictability and mysteriousness that frightens people.

She has her reasons for visiting, I know. I actually think she has a direct line to God and He’s the one who usually tells her when to come. Some people see her as an unwelcome intruder, and some days when she’s around, I think so too. But she never comes without at least a few gifts for me. So I’m learning not to resist her presence.

When she’s here, my capacity for work is diminished; I need more sleep and I have trouble concentrating on certain tasks. This means that I need to be mindful of my energy and be careful in what I choose to do or not do. It also means that I am brought face to face with my limitations and weaknesses, which makes me re-examine where my identity and value lie.  These are some of the gifts she brings.

When she’s around, I also feel a certain pervasive sadness. This means I need to find what is life-giving and make space for those things. I cry more easily. The sadness is one way she helps me to enter into the grief of the world. I might feel alone, but in actuality, I am sharing in the experience of humanity. Her presence means that I must make room for rest and renewal. She invites me to press closer into the bosom of Christ, who is the God of all comfort. These, too, are the gifts she brings.

The greatest gift from her, I think, is humility. She humbles me like nothing else. From her, I am reminded that my limited capacity is not only a good thing, it’s perfect. And that my value comes from being a beloved creature of the Creator.

What is her name, you might ask? Some call her Depression. But today, I’d like you to meet my friend.


[This post was originally published on April 13, 2010 on Olive’s burnout blog under the title “(un)Expected Visitor.” We thought our readers here would be blessed by it.]

photo credit: .Andi. via photopin cc

  • Guest_0421

    very poetic. makes me think of the times i experience depression in a different way – instead of me-centered, God-centered. thanks for the bit of inspiration. :)

    • olivechan

      You’re welcome. :)

  • B.K

    One day, you’ll be able to let her go.

    HE will know when you’re ready ;-)

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  • JM

    For me, not only can depression be a friend but it is a part of me. I have suffered depression since I was 4 – I’m now 47. Therapists, medication, hospitals and all for naught. Then I had a major spiritual experience a few months ago with my non-traditional spiritual healer. He guided me through a meditative-type process that helped me identify what my depression looked like, what it felt like etc. For me, it is a small, putty-like gray blob. I was taken to a place where I was 4 and I felt a terrible, terrible, terrible aching pain of despair. It was a pain that nobody could endure. My depression masked that pain so I could grow. My depression is my protector and it is me. But I have always fought it – pushed it away. I have been pushing an essential part of my very being away. The pain of depression is the pushing away of part of yourself. This was the key part: I had to embrace it. I had to recognize it was part of me and it should be inside me to make me spiritually more whole. My healer had me visualize taking hold of my gray blob (instead of pushing it away) and take it into my body. I can tell you that this was very, very hard. But as soon as I was able to do it all the pain I was feeling with depression evaporated and I became very peaceful. Now, if I get a “pang” of depression, I visualize the gray blob and accept it. The pang goes away instantly. Sometimes I don’t catch the feeling and the depressed feelings overtake me – as they always used to. But once I realize what is happening I can deal with the situation. It’s been very profound and I am now able to start understanding the cause of the terrible pain I experienced as a young child and why I used depression to protect me.

    • olivechan

      Wow, JM. Thank you for sharing your experience. How profound, healing and beautiful. Would that all of us be courageous like you in accepting those parts of us that are hard to embrace.

  • felines99

    What a quiet and peaceful way to accept what has been, for me, an ongoing cross to bear. I cried when I read this but don’t really understand why.