Friday, August 14, 2015

Driving in the rain: Depression & Clarity

Photo taken on I-4, in Orlando, FL
The other day Jason and I visited Jason's 92 year old grandmother on the east coast of Florida, and on our way back, we drove in and out of several rain storms, courtesy of Florida summer.

For part of the drive, we could see rain ahead of us in the distance and could properly prepare to enter into the storm by turning on the lights and windshield wipers and decelerating.

Other parts of our drive, the rain just fell from the sky, without any warning.  Jason had to react quickly.  In the midst of the sudden downpour it was difficult to see what was ahead, let alone prepare for whatever else might be in the road.

Later that night, we talked about how driving in the rain is a good metaphor for when someone goes through seasons of depression.  Actually, Jason came up with the connection between the two.

Photo taken on Route 192, in Kissimmee, Florida
When someone is depressed, much of life can feel like the very middle of a sudden rain storm.  Most of the time, you're just trying to get a few steps ahead and can't possibly process beyond that.  Most decisions feel like you just want to get out of them.  Most interactions are claustrophobic and uncertain, much like being in a car in a rainstorm.

Then there are the annoyances of daily life; the little frustrations that come upon everyone.

But for someone who is depressed, these seemingly small interferences can trigger anger from unknown corners of your being.

All of the sudden, the rain pounds harder.
The pelting sound around you drives out any intuition or insight of how to respond appropriately.

Photo taken in Saint Cloud, Florida
Interrupted plans equals loss of control, which conjures up fear and deceives you into a state of helplessness.  Your gut reaction of anger is merely a desperate attempt to regain footing, but often tramples those around you in the process.

After the episode has concluded, you look around in disappointment as you realize that the storm you thought you were in was just a light drizzle.  You contemplate what just happened, and discover that had your reaction been just a bit different, there may have not been a storm at all.

You retreat, confused about how you got into the storm in the first place.

Contrast this frame of mind with the clarity through which one can view the world when not in a depressive state.  It's more like how our drive was when we were approaching the rain.

We could see the rain ahead of us.  We had time to calmly respond by turning on the lights and windshield wipers, slowing down, and preparing mentally to go into the storm.  We could have even perhaps avoided the storm altogether by taking another route if we wanted.  We had the capability to instinctively choose the right course of action for the situation at hand.

And suddenly the storm wasn't as bad as we first thought since we could to approach it from a clear frame of mind.

Photo taken in Saint Cloud, Florida.
The depressive state of mind clouds judgement, reduces tolerance for error, increases anxiety and demands control.

The clear state of mind gives freedom, increases one's ability to respond to change, deals with anxiety properly and accepts the reality of minimal or no control in various situations.

Still, regardless of how bad the storm is, there is a way home.

A rainbow of promise.
A place of peace and safety.

Throughout life we will have lots of opportunities to choose how to respond to the path ahead of us.  Some seasons of life may demand a fight inside of us to get through, while other seasons may come and go easily.

I am thankful that we are never alone, and that we have an Eternal Home waiting for us at the end of the journey.

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.  God has made everything beautiful in its time.  And he has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from the beginning to the end.  I perceive that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and do good as long as they live." ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11-12

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