So many people suffer from depression. A few weeks ago, I said to someone, "I've never been depressed."
Then tonight I realized that isn't true.
When I was at Harvard Divinity School for my second year and in the first year of my marriage (soon, very soon--September 5--to be 44 years ago!) I thought I was dying. I was sure I had a chronic and fatal heart disease.
None of the tests at Harvard's remarkable health center agreed with my self-diagnosis. So they referred me to a psychiatrist. She was a Swedish woman of middle age. We had several sessions at which I told her of my impending death.
My depression showed up as fear. I was afraid of dying, afraid of not knowing how to be a husband, afraid of whatever was coming next in my life.
Finally, on a monsoon day in Cambridge, I walked through torrential rains to see my shrink.
When I arrived, I took off my shoes and socks--soaked--my coat, soaked as well and she gave me paper towels to dry my hair in a fashion. I was soaked to the skin. It's the worst rain I ever walked 6 blocks in.
She looked at me and said: "If you're so afraid of death, why on earth did you walk through this weather to tell me you're afraid of death?"
She paused in that Scandinavian way of pausing, to let me think that through.
"You have the heart of a young horse," she said, "according to all the tests you didn't need....Get out of here and get over it."
I wish I could write that in a Swedish accent, but I can't. But imagine it.
I put on my wet socks, shoes and coat and went home.
She was right.
I can tell you I've had moments since then, but for the most part, I've never been depressed again.
And I thank whatever gods may be for that.....
And I hold in my heart all those I know and don't know for whom depression is a constant companion.
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