The Taser's Edge

When the Days Get Shorter, the Nights Get Longer
November 21, 2008, 5:43 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


            For the past several weeks, I have had brief glimpses of the darkness. Short but lengthening experiences of the blue-purple-black-red bruise that is depression. A month ago, it would last for perhaps half an hour at a time. Two weeks ago, it would last a couple hours or more. Now, it’s getting closer and closer to a full day’s worth (today might be that day), and soon I don’t think it’s going to be limited by a 24 hour period.

            I recognize it’s a sick thought, but it’s my thought all the same, from W.B. Yeats’ “The Second Coming”: “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, / Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?” My depression seems to be growing in this particular season of the year. I know I experience seasonal affected disorder, if not as a clinical diagnosis then at least in comparing how I felt during those long Wisconsin winters with how I feel when May arrives in North Carolina. I love the family connections of this time of year, but I think that what is most depressing is the combination of sun and cold. I know that I am supposed to understand something about the tilt of the earth’s axis and indirect sunlight, but primordially I do not understand.

            This time round I am trying to practice mindfulness as I have been training. Paying attention and simply observing what is going on inside me in the moment in which it is going on. That might be where the image of the bruise comes from. It’s not easy. It is never comfortable to watch a the wreck of a passenger train happening, let alone one that seems to be piling up inside your mind. How do you understand what’s going on and work to fight it?



            In our most recent reading for CPE, Edward Wimberly’s Recalling Our Own Stories: Spiritual Renewal for Religious Caregivers, Wimberly provides practical exercises for anyone (not only ‘religious caregivers’) to do some intense self-discovery. In class we focused on the set of questions regarding exploring our earliest memory. It sounds stereotypically psychoanalytic, and I’m sure I’m overanalyzing things (especially because I wouldn’t claim too strongly that the memory I’m about to share actually happened historically), but it was very helpful.

            In my earliest memory, I must be two years old. I’m in the playroom/sun porch, which I remember being at the front of the house. The sun is streaming in and filling the room. And the door has just been closed. That’s the significant action of this scene. Zack (my older brother) and Mom are on the other side of the door, the door has latched, and I’m too young and small to reach the doorknob to turn it. I desperately want to be on the other side of that door, because my Mom is there, and because I’m alone, and because the room in which I am standing is rapidly filling with dread.



            Today I’m depressed. All I want to do is get out of this place in my mind. I want to get out of this room in my mind, but I can’t. I’m not sure if there even is a door, but I know I can’t open it and escape. So I return to that oldest memory, and now I am able to notice how much I am striving—hysterical for the other side of that door—and how much I am not able to see in my struggle that the sun porch is actually full of light. How can I turn around from fighting depression’s grasp, so that I might see the light that is in here with me?:


“Where can I go from your spirit?

Or where can I flee from your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, you are there;

If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there…

If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,

And the light around me become night,

Even the darkness is not dark to you;

For night is as bright as the day,

For darkness is as light to you.” (Ps. 139:7-8, 11-12)


            It is not that I try to escape. It is that I notice.  God is in this place of darkness with me. I am in the tomb, but Jesus knows all about tombs, and he is here with me. There will be resurrection, and this will end, but until then, I will try to notice the light.

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Growing up, I saw, but didn’t recognize at the time, where depression takes you. Her name was Aunt Trude, who eventually died in Jacksonville, and I didn’t realize for several years that it was her foot steps I was following. The funny thing about darkness is that all the doors leading into it empty into the same place.

Comment by Sharon Hardin-Eaton

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