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Guest Blogger Kris Adams

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Kris shares his experiences living with depression.

 

As great a childhood as I had, looking back I think my story with depression began in my early teens. I was a sensitive boy, sensitive to social injustices; I remember crying at the sight of starving Ethiopians on the TV news. Finding joy only in fantasy I spent many hours reading alone. Brought up in Christian circles I eventually found myself disenchanted with all forms of religious expression, their faith didn’t seem to help those that needed it most. While I never really stopped believing in God, I stopped living like I did. Went in search of meaning elsewhere and what I found was just more of a sense of despair. I didn’t particularly like the world, society or myself. Slowly and sometimes with bigger leaps I fell into the grip of depression. 

By my early twenties my depression manifested itself by preventing me from engaging socially with anyone, my housemates included. I would have anxiety attacks in crowds of people where people I knew were present. If I was entirely anonymous I was pretty much ok. It was the terror of knowing that someone could come at me from any angle and engage me in conversation. I had stuffed up my life and I was too scared to talk to anyone in case I influenced them to stuff up theirs. Dialogue with anyone was fraught with such danger, was too much responsibility for me to handle. While there is truth in looking at relationships that way, to let that stop you from having relationships is pretty irrational. Depression doesn’t lend itself to logic though; it twists the truth and outright lies.

So I was numb, couldn’t hold down a job for long and could hardly raise myself from my bed.

I remember clearly the morning I turned the corner from this road that was leading to a pit of nothingness.

A sunshower has just passed through and I am curled up on the couch looking out the window at glistening beads of water dripping from the leaves of a small tree. I am in awe as I study the tree, marvelling at this living thing that at slower than a snail’s pace will eventually soak up that water in its roots and will deliver nutrients up its solid trunk and through its branches. I can see some beauty in amongst my self-imposed bleakness.

It was in that moment that I decided I didn’t want to live as a depressed person anymore. And I think that is an important thing, it didn’t free me of depression but I had decided that I didn’t want be defined by it anymore.

Years followed, years on medication, frenzied periods of creating art, moving interstate to be with my family, enrolling in study, going through times of doubt and anger, being with my father when he died, rediscovering my faith, falling in love, getting married, getting a job. There was no quick fix but I found myself on a journey out of the darkness and by accepting challenges that I thought were beyond me I grew. I grew in my confidence and I grew in my ability and my self-awareness to stay above the hands that wanted to drag me down. 

I had been trained as a youth worker and then people thought I should become a High School Chaplain because I’d be perfect for it. It was daunting to the extreme, the responsibility and even to just have the title of Chaplain. I felt so inadequate. I accepted the job. I think it was more perfect for me than me for it because I had to rise to something bigger than myself. I’ve come to believe that helping others is the most effective way of helping yourself. Depression is like being locked in a tiny world that only you inhabit, and in that place you don’t like you very much. I just love the symmetry, the feedback loop that is created when we help each other that it helps us and that it exponentially can create a better world.

Five years on, still a Chaplain where I have to listen to others and encourage them, where I have to meet others often in a place of hurt and need. And when someone is sharing their pain with me they usually don’t need me to bring mine to the table as well. I think that by having to leave my darkness at the door it gets easier to leave it further behind. So I find myself in a place where anything I say or do could influence the person across from me and while that still scares me it challenges me to do my best and I’m ok with that.

I guess I found healing in doing what frightened me the most. Never entirely healed, I can sort of feel depression lurking in the corner of my mind like it’s just out of my peripheral vision. It’s there and if I end up spending too much time on my own, if I surrender to my natural inclination to be a reclusive hermit it pays me a visit and I know it’s time to turn to being creative and to being sociable (choosing to do the things that are therapeutic to me) if I want it to go away. I am thankful there is meaning to my existence, thankful for my work, my friends and family and most of all my wife for providing me with an encouraging, challenging and supportive foundation to build a life worth living on.



6 comments

  1. Commenting on your own post is lame and desperate (where’s the love?) Maybe I should’ve ended with a question like ‘What have you found to be therapeutic to you?’ or ‘What if anything have you taken away from this site?’.

    • Don’t feel bad, no one is commenting on any of the posts! But lots of people visit the site, so feel the love, just not the written love!

    • I don’t feel bad for me, I feel bad for you guys cos it’s such a beautiful site. I have a theory that people are less likely to comment when they have to put in a code (as seen below). Don’t let it stop you I say, contribute!

    • The code thing is to stop the spammers, and believe me they spam us.

      Feel the non spammed love. 🙂

      Remember though that while we are about educating the public about depression and also letting those who suffer from it know that they are not alone, there is still that big stigma that you shouldn’t talk about depression. So while there are no comments there are most definitely vistors, over 200+ unique a day, so your story is being read.

  2. hey there,
    I read and related to your story in a number of ways. I have suffered depression since middle childhood. I remember the Ethiopian children, the fear of nuclear war, the pangs of anxiety every time I heard an ambulance or fire engine. But I write from a place much like your own. It’s a good place to be, these days.
    People usually comment on stuff they don’t agree with. Perhaps you’ve resonated with many, brought up stuff they didn’t want to recognise within themselves, made them think. Not the kind of things to warrant a comment here!
    Thanks for sharing your story.
    M

  3. Hi Kris,
    While you are thankful for your work, friends, family and your wife, people like me are thankful for you, for having the courage and compassion to share your story for nothing other than the want to help others. I don’t remember consciously making the choice to change my life and find reason and joy in it, it became a subtle recognition of the need to fight for my life against an intangible thing and thus the changes were made accordingly, albeit slowly. Back then I never knew of places like beyondblue that could provide me with assistance so this type of organisation is so desperately needed and worthy. The cloud of depression can seem so very dark, thick and oppressive. Others may not have the same realization that they can take steps to change their lives for the better without assistance from such amazing places/services as this and caring people such as yourself. Your story is compelling, insightful, revealing, uplifting and familiar. A great comfort and inspiration. Well done and THANK YOU.


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