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“I had this feeling I was out in the middle of nowhere ... absolutely nothing ... and it was such a lost feeling. I was lit up by a white light, but I didn’t light up the black.” (VOID by Elizabeth Layton)

“I had this feeling I was out in the middle of nowhere … absolutely nothing … and it was such a lost feeling. I was lit up by a white light, but I didn’t light up the black.” (Void by Elizabeth Layton)

A friend called to ask the cure for my depression. She thought I was over it because I was talking openly.

It’s partly true. I am on the other side of  “I can’t get out of bed” and “I cry most of the day, everyday.” However, like in the article link below about artist Grandma Layton, I’ve “suffered from feelings” most of my life.

Still unable to get rid of them, I expect to be affected from here on out.  

I’ve turned observer as to how others have taken their feelings to heart and found heart in doing so.

An art class at a local university saved Elizabeth Layton.

Elizabeth is also known as Grandma Layton. The 68-year-old spent much of her life suffering from feelings and coping with depression and bipolar disorder. Grandma Layton overcame her afflictions when she began drawing contour art in 1977, which the Washington Post said “is good.”

The Pacific Crest Trail rescued 26-year-old Cheryl Strayed.

Cheryl hiked 1,100 miles alone after her divorce and the death of her mother. In her memoir, Wild, Cheryl Strayed wrote how profoundly the Pacific Crest Trail “both shattered and sheltered” her, and how it eventually saved her.

It took an angel to talk movie character George Bailey, overwhelmed by his situation and feelings, out of jumping off a bridge in “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

George claimed he’d be better off dead than alive. An angel named Clarence proved him wrong by allowing George to see life without him in his hometown of Bedford Falls.

What helps one person is seldom the remedy for another. Have you ever noticed how most suggestions from friends don’t work? Because of this, we’re left to find our own lonely way. Not that help isn’t available, it is. But in the end, the suffering that comes alongside our feelings is our responsibility.

Hands pulling her from the void. (Light by Elizabeth Layton)

Hands pulling her from the void. (Light by Elizabeth Layton)

Here are five things that weren’t cures, but eased “suffering from feelings.”

  1. Working at something I loved (like writing), while also giving myself permission to turn down assignments when I wasn’t up for meeting deadlines. Mind you, I used to judge people harshly who said they couldn’t work because of depression, so practicing this one took some getting used to.
  2. Spending time with caring family and friends.
  3. Steering clear of unkind people, even though I’m certain they were suffering from feelings as well. Like Will Bowen said, “Hurt people hurt people.” Unless you’ve figured out a safe way to be around hurtful people, I say the more space between you and them, the better.
  4. Stopping my own hurtful reactions. Angry outburst towards others surprised me as much as them. What I really wanted during those times was to curl up, cry and be held. Anger masked my hurt feelings and kept people and pain at bay, but I didn’t heal.
  5. Ending the never-ending cycle of self-criticism. Louise Hay said, “ Loving the self begins with never ever criticizing ourselves for anything.” If this quote causes you to bristle because you think, “We’ve got to examine our faults or we’ll never improve,” keep in mind, few of us are in any real danger of never ever criticizing ourselves again.

Three things I didn’t try, but heard friends say helped, were medication, counseling (I did this years ago, but not during more recent depressive bouts), and reading additional self-help books.

Hannah Lily Grace of God Henson (her full name) is part Jack Russell terrier, part Basset Hound, part angel.

Hannah Lily Grace of God Henson (her full name) is part Jack Russell terrier, part Basset Hound, part angel.

Little did I know, my cure was not only around the corner, but she was sitting in a corner crate, beating the odds of being put to sleep for two months until I was ready for her rescuing.

She’s the puppy that stumbled over the food bowl and into her water dish, excited to get a closer look at my husband and me the day we stopped by the shelter “just to look.” All the while dozens of other dogs yelped for our attention.

She’s the puppy that barked once and only then because my husband stood over her cage after I walked away and said, “Are you seriously considering this one? There’s something wrong with her.”

We planned to change her name to Daisy until I saw x-rays at our vet’s office the following day.

She’s the puppy that shelter staff avoided telling us was hit by a car that resulted in her having a fractured spine and two fractured hips. The puppy our vet said should have never been adopted out given her physical condition. The puppy that the kill shelter said we could exchange.

We kept her given name Hannah, which means grace of God. A specialist and $3000 in medical bills (hers, not mine) later and I guess you can call me cured.

Not because I’m over suffering from feelings, but because my feelings and I ended up smack dab in the middle of grace that showed itself as nonnegotiable (unless I wanted the stuffing chewed out of our sofa) afternoon walks, tug-of-war every evening, and unconditional love like I know comes from God, but sometimes I need fur.

Just like Grandma Layton, Cheryl the hiker, and George Bailey in the Christmas movie, remedies show up in unlikely ways and during unlikely times. Sometimes they cost more than we expect to pay, but when I calculated the price of meds and psychotherapy, I knew I’d gotten a bargain.

Are you in need of a cure? Please don’t give up. Let us know so we can pray, and whatever you do, keep seeking.

Did a cure find you while you were in pursuit of it? If so, I’d love to hear about it.

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – I believe our “cure” comes while we’re seeking it and when we’re willing to pay the price when it finds us. “Seek and you will find” (Matthew 7:7). The secret, then, is seeking for as long as it takes.

Related posts:

What’s Your Secret? (depression, part 1)

Stopping For Help (depression, part 2)

Depression: A Waste of Time? Or Worth the Time? (depression, part 3)

We Need To Talk (depression, part 5)

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