Many people have lost their equilibrium in the riots and trauma like the earthquake. Many of them become depressed. An episode of depression can be a devastating experience. This is so first because of the darkness and despair that pervades the person like a poison, and second because the failure of others to comprehend in even a small way what that person is going through. It destroys the foundations of a strong marriage, an enjoyable and creative job, health, convincing faith, supportive friends and relatives, financial security and a variety of hobbies. One does not question such areas of life and simply lives. There is no questioning during these hours of the timeless value of human companionship and gentle love. There may be at times tears and sorrow but the tragedies of life can be borne. Time comes with its gentle healing. However, in depression, the ordinary activities of daily life are lost and nothing seems worth doing. Nothing is assumed in place and firm. Instead there is questioning and more questioning, not on a superficial level, but rather on a profound one. What is the purpose and meaning of human life? Why do some people seem to have so much joy, others, so much sorrow? Why is there suffering? Why do some people endure pain for years, others, not at all? Are we suffering because of our sins and if so, what can we do about them? How does a loving God allow suffering? If we are going to die anyway, why does God not take us out of our suffering? Why am I looking at things so darkly? What is the purpose of life? Would death not be desirable? Why should I not choose to die in order to escape this dread inner poison? Is my marriage really happy? Am I loved? Will I be lonely? Will my family leave me? I no longer have a job and what could I do instead? Why do I have to work? What will I do with all the spare time if I do not work? My health is broken; this depression seems so uncontrollable. I used to be so healthy. What will the future hold if this darkness does not go away? Life is not worth living in this debilitating gloom. My faith was so strong; how could God let this happen to me?
In this state some friends and relatives prove gloriously faithful. They stand by and help in all the ways that they can but others flee. Some who were so trusted, so loved are gone now. They cannot help and therefore depart. However, their departure is like a sword thrust into the heart. As the darkness pervades the soul, the absence of those on whom one relied does further harm. Self-confidence goes; fear of rejection increases; alarm for the future appears. The tears flow frequently and easily. Unhappiness becomes one’s mode. Financial security becomes of little interest. That for which one might have worked with some enthusiasm seems as nothing in the light of lost health. Hobbies attract no interest. What are they for? What good do they do? Is not attention to one’s own interest rather selfish? Normal or average life seems simply a sweet memory that appears forever lost. What was it like to wake up in the morning and to have little concerns? What was it like to feel energy for the usual activities of life, such as eating, cleaning, walking, shopping and working? How could it have been that life was filled with brightness and joy, that little things could bring a smile, that big things engender positive excitement? Why is it that these activities are not carried except by sheer force of will? Why are all these questions about life? Why is it that there is a clinging to every person, hoping vainly that someone will have the answers? The presence of depression is like a constant, poisonous gloom. Somehow, it casts a mist over the eyes that makes one see nothing as it is and everything is clothed in gray, dull tones. “I used to like this – but not now.” “That would bring me delight; now it seems stupid.” Worst of all, what pleases other people brings pain. Life loses all its brightness. The dread that this condition can and might continue causes a longing for death. Mercifully, the depression begins to lift. As time goes by, and the depression lifts, rays of light begin to appear. Life opens its hands and calls. The depression is not gone but chances of recovery seem to exist. The road to recovery is long and sadly, backward turning. As one begins to come out of depression, there occurs a reluctance to admit to self or to others that healing is taking place. One fears that the departure of the depression is not real. One also fears that others will expect the appearance of perfect health that will not chance again. As depression lifts, another emotion is felt. Sheer joy and gladness. Joy that the depression did not last. Joy that it is gradually leaving. Joy that one did not give up on life in the darkest days. Joy, that even if there might be other suffering in future days, life would ever hold sweet moments. The bright wings of hope nurture the soul and suggest that the promise of new life will be fulfilled. There is a new dawn breaking. One can live again.