Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don't ask why
It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time
I have recently attended two graduation ceremonies - one was the high school graduation of a family friend and the second was my niece's graduation from seventh grade. Of course, the focus for both events was reflecting on the past but looking toward the future. It's a significant time for a student, a fork in the road of life.
Listening to the various speeches during these ceremonies and thinking of the lives yet to be lived, and dreams yet to be achieved, I couldn't help but reflect on my own life. It's a natural time for me to do this as I am at my own personal crossroads. That's what a depressive episode is to me - a time to reflect on where I am, what I have achieved and what I still want to do with my life, how I want to live it.
I am often asked what causes my depression. It's a natural question - we want to be able to put the blame somewhere and to explain 'why' in order to understand. Sometimes I can answer the question and sometimes I can't. At this point in my life I have endured three major depressive episodes. I have a genetic disposition to the illness of depression (lots of family history of the disease) and that has certainly explained the fairly persistent melancholy that I have experienced throughout most of my life - my mom has called me her 'melancholy baby' many times over the years. So sometimes there has not been a specific incident that I can point to, the 'why'. Other times there have been triggers in my life that have brought about a depressive episode.
In a weird way perhaps, I view a depressive episode as an opportunity. OK wait, don't get me wrong - being depressed is awful and if I could get hold of a 'get out of jail free' card, I would grab it! But since this seems to be my cross to bear in life, then I am going to try and get something out of it, dammit.
So what's the opportunity? It's a chance to take stock of my life. In the instances where there has been a trigger for my illness, that's surely a sign that something isn't working, something needs to change. Sometimes the signs are big and sometimes they are subtle and not so easy to read.
But here's the thing: you are never too old or too long out of school to make changes to your life, to create that bucket list or take up a new hobby, start a new relationship or maybe end one. Life is full of opportunities, it's just whether we choose to recognize them as such that makes all the difference.
As I begin what I hope to be the journey out of my depression, I am going to embrace all those graduation cliches that I have heard lately and apply them to my own life. I may be at a fork in the road, but I am not stuck here. Soon I'll be motoring along on my way to the next chapter of my life story. In the end I want to be able to say that I had the time of my life.
P.S. Want to know what a 'depressive episode' is? Here's the definition: a manifestation of a major mood disorder involving an enduring period of some or all of the following signs: significant sadness, tearfulness, decreased appetite, weight loss, sleep and energy disturbance, psychomotor agitation or retardation, feelings of worthlessness, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, decreased concentration, thoughts of death, and suicidal ideation
If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, please seek help. You can learn more about mental illness through the Canadian Mental Health Association and Partners for Mental Health