Saturday, May 14, 2005

Living With Depression


Grace is a home educating mother of three in far north Queensland. Until recently, Grace was the editor and producer of Stepping Stones For Home Educators. Her articles have appeared in magazines such as Byronchild Magazine and Education Choices.


The most revolutionary act one can commit in this world is to be happy.
Hunter ‘Patch’ Adams


The past three months have certainly seen many fast moving events changing many people’s lives in different ways. I figure it’s part of the evolution of our way of life on this planet and imagine that life as we know it is going to become more shaky as time moves on. In relation to education in particular, I guess conditions in institutions, ie. schools will become more extreme. Although this will be uncomfortable for many, it will make it easier to implement the very necessary changes to the way we educate our children en masse. My daily prayer is that each of us will have the faith to follow our hearts with clarity and trust.


My own time has been spent being very inward as I miscarried early in September, at three months, then eight weeks later I urgently needed a curette which I trust has placed me on the path of recovery.


Emotionally, the miscarriage led me to feel many energy draining emotions again—sense of loss, sense of failure, confusion, fear, resentment, bitterness and disheartened. My heart felt too flat to want to look after anyone, including myself. To all the ladies I know who are excitedly awaiting the arrival of their babies … please don’t think you can’t share your excitement with me. Now more than ever, I love to hear other women’s expressions of how they are feeling.


In late September we explored the north west of Queensland. Lawn Hill National Park was our ultimate destination. We were only there for 24 hours when we were asked to leave because a bushfire was raging down the gorge! There hadn’t been a fire of such a size for 2 years! We were there long enough to explore the gorge by canoe for a few hours one morning. We also managed to walk through the forest. Now that was a beautiful experience. I’ve never walked through such a forest before. The trees are so old and so different from the tropical rainforests that I’m used to. The feeling of being in that forest touched my heart very deeply.


The Gregory River is a wonderful haven to camp alongside. It is such a contrast to the surrounding hot, dry country. The five of us enjoyed our selves very much in different ways—fishing and putting the fish back into the water, canoeing, sketching, making music, reading, eating and chatting with the locals and (for me, wallowing in long bouts of silence).


Our time away from home provided the opportunity for me to explore my strong, dark feelings and I allowed them to dominate my actions. What a brave family I have! They weren’t comfortable with the way I was behaving yet all I could see reflected in their eyes was their Love for me.


By the time we arrived back home I felt a strong sense of appreciation—for our cool, wet environment [how wonderful to feel soft green grass beneath my feet] - for familiar friends—for family. I still wasn’t at my optimum level of good health but I was ambling along, doing what ‘had’ to be done. Routines were established—daily reading together (mainly me reading out loud) chores, daily listening to or making music. I set to work with collating Stepping Stones, tending to the vegie garden, running the house, helping in the office (Our business is designing and installing alternative power systems.), doing an occasional day as relief teacher and being with the children. Any form of guided language or math study with the children was nonexistent. They weren’t missing it and I was too flat to push it. Therein lies the beauty of home based learning. While our family was experiencing many unexpected challenges [financially, physically and emotionally], the individual needs— emotionally, physically and mentally—were still being met. The children’s lessons were first hand experience with life—problem solving where a great deal of emotion was involved. They heard Dad and I sharing our fears, they heard and felt my feelings of depression—and they saw us acting not as victims but as people who take responsibility for shaping their lives.


It was an opportunity for me to review some of my beliefs. (I was even wondering… What is a value? Sometimes I think I’d just rather be a ti-tree! They grow, they have a beautiful scent and shape, they flower, provide shade and shelter… a tree just knows how to be!) Here are some of my beliefs about life...

  • I am responsible for shaping my life. Life is beautiful. Life is simple, not always easy but it is meant to be simple.
  • Look for the blessing in any situation/ make lemonade out of lemons!
  • Acknowledge my feelings at all times and choose to ride with the feelings that serve me best. It’s OK to feel anger, hurt, sadness, jealousy, fear etc.
  • If I don’t like the way that things are looking, then look through a different window. For each person in this world there is a unique way of looking at things. Choose the window that serves me best.
  • It is possible to feel joy at any given moment. Sometimes I just have to stretch deeper inside myself to feel it. That isn’t always easy but it is simple.
  • Love is my foundation.


One very special fact I have been reminded of through first hand experience is that the virtues of Kindness, Love, Gentleness and Patience, are very powerful medicine. I am eternally grateful to my parents, family and friends who helped me see and feel this in many different ways. Towards the end of my acute recovery time I read a lot of novels. (Dirran loved this period of time. Whenever he came romping onto my bed with a book, he knew I’d be happy to read it with him. It was a very close time for us.) Anyway, I couldn’t read so many novels without sharing some of the more impressive ones with you. Reading novels leads me to process so many of my thoughts, feelings and emotions. I am especially drawn to books from the young adult fiction shelves.


I wonder what Summer will bring? Cyclones? Floods? Snow? (not likely up here) Watermelon! Mangoes! Swimming in the river! Lots of smiles and compassion, love, always love...

© Grace Chapman