The Silent Killers

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

In the past year or so, I've had a few conversations with people who, when the subject of depression comes up (for whatever reason), I explain to them how I can empathize because of some of the things I've been through. Of course, these days I'm a happy idiot, and spend most of my time in a good it's understandable that they are surprised that I was ever different, that I was ever someone who got depressed. They see me as the usually laughing-too-loud, acting-my-shoe size guy...that I could have ever been someone with rage in my heart, with self-pity on my sleeve...that just doesn't compute...they just have trouble comprehending that that Rich Fry existed.

I'm not sounding my own horn. Praise God that He's given me Hope, that I can regard this crazy world with a positive outlook. But it's funny to me (and a testament to God's Grace) that they have trouble seeing my past in my present.

Losing my mother to suicide at 9, yeah that sucked. I wouldn't compare it to anyone else's pain, because life's not a competition like that. But whatever the pain, people can relate to the concept of painful experiences. A band I like called Over The Rhine has a song with a line: "Pain is our mother, she helps us recognize each other." Clichés like "misery loves company" come to mind. To turn that around, it's because when we commiserate, we can find comfort that others have, to a relatable degree, experienced similar pain. And in sharing that, we realize an empathic (more important than a sympathetic) connection to each other.

I bring this up because two things today made me want to dwell on it for a moment. I read an online friend's blog (Mr. Noah Tall... I highly recommend it) and heard a pastor I like give a message (podcasting rules) about Making The Most Of It. The clichés are endless...what doesn't kill us makes us stronger...when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. All that stuff.

To quote from the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley, "Under the bludgeonings of chance / My head is bloody, but unbowed."

But what hit me was what the podcast pastor said about the "Silent Killers"...Resentment, Self-Pity, and Bitterness. These things (and I'd add Worry in there) can eat us alive. They are psychological cancers and can be rather difficult to conquer, but life has so much more joy in it without them. These things are no longer welcome in my life...for these things, as my friends say, "I got no time, people."

I think back to when I was in high school, still so fragile a person that I became so frustrated studying for the SATs that I wept with genuine adolescent despair (as genuine as adolescent despair gets, I guess, over SAT synapse saturation). I felt lost, I felt stupid, I was exhausted and depressed. My father came in and I told him through my tears that maybe my mother was right, maybe this life wasn't worth living. (You can laugh, it was so stupid...a big-time no-expense spared pity party...I think it was even catered).

Point is, I can mock myself now. Because I'm still alive. Because years later, when I made a very specific decision to live instead of die, I put myself, without really knowing it, on a road to not letting any of those silent killers beat me. Oh for years, they still lived in me, and contributed greatly to much internal personal misery and tribulation. But no longer. I won't abide them.

And whenever life sucks, I refuse to let them dwell in me, or me dwell on them. I like this world better than the one I used to live in. And I look forward to the next one even more.