Mockingbird have published this reflection by Trevor Almy, who has gone through seasons of intense chronic depression and who sees similarities in the way people are experiencing and reacting to the time of pandemic we are going through and his own reactions during depression.
This is not proscriptive and neither makes light of chronic depression or the losses that many are going though presently.
To the extent that this season is amplifying our reactions whether in the direction of depression and preoccupation with loss, or anxiety and preoccupation with what we fear may be, the observation about focusing on the actual moment we’re living in is helpful.
At least it was to me.
While I was in group therapy, one of the counselors imparted a piece of wisdom. They said, “The degree to which we can accept ambiguity is the degree to which we are emotionally healthy.” The more I ruminate on that truth the more far-reaching I realize its application is. One of the sadistic ironies of depression is that, while you have to act in order to begin to recover, you cannot really act. In fact, depression is accentuated the more you think about progress or make plans to arrive at happiness. It is only when you stop focusing on your emotional state or when you will be happy again that you realize that most moods are ambiguous. The need for certainty underlines despair. Further, the acceptance of uncertainty liberates the mind to process other experiences. It lifts the self-imposed quarantine.
Learning the skill to do that internally then naturally extends to the ability to do that externally. If I am uncertain about what my state of mind will be tomorrow, how much more the state of the world? As a result, the only way to live is in a state of mindfulness, being present in a way that becomes as automatic as seeing. If depression drives us into the past to desire a better time, then anxiety sends us spinning into the future, worrying what will be. Accepting uncertainty does neither, but teaches us to inhabit the moment in a way that focuses on the needs of the day. I think of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:34 and how often what is underemphasized is his insistence that each day has its own problems. Tolerating ambiguity does not mean there will not be struggles but that you do not have the omniscience to see them.
Read the whole article here.