The question is a surefire cause for reflection. In my own case, I can say that my life took a new and exciting direction. As therapist I quickly learned that my own painful depression experience gave my life and work a special path.
A recent author, in his work The Depths, shares with us how his experience with depression provided new meaning for his life and work. It was when his depression ran it’s course did he realize that this experience had provided him with a purpose for his life.
“The specific enterprises that will create purpose in life will differ from person to person and emerge from his or her history and needs. Your mileage will surely vary. There’s no ready made formula for discovering and rebuilding life purpose (or purposes) after depression. It can and should emerge over time from solo reflection, as well as from conversations with spouses, friends, and therapists. This diverse process is worth pursuing. This diverse process is worth pursuing. I expect what is common among people is that however purpose is created, it can hold depression at bay…”
Since 1985, my experience with depression in the midst of my Graduate studies in Psychology, provided me with a “life purpose” which I live out everyday in my life. I didn’t just pick up where I left off before my depression but I used what I learned from my experience; used the tools given to me while in recovery, and now continue to share my experiences with thousands of people around the world.
Because of my participation in the 12 Step fellowship of Alcoholic Anonymous, this program of recovery I used as a model of recovery and hope for those of us who were depressed.
As Jonathon Rottenberg shares in his work, The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic (2014) Basic Books, NY., that
“This again is a reminder that we may be better off if we think about recovery, not simply as the absence of depressive symptoms, but as a set of active qualities or practices that prevent low mood from taking root, despite the presence of liabilities elsewhere. ” Pages 194-195.
I do hope that you have the opportunity to read this book as the author shows us in many different ways how the depression experience will not only provide purpose in our lives but also that strength we call hope.