Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Healing from Despair (Part 2)

What Rabbi Eli Spitz said in Healing from Despair: Choosing Wholeness in a Broken World that made such a difference to me is this:

"Losses impose heavy burdens upon us. Under the weight of the burdens we may find ourselves in a deep, dark, lonely place. This book is about the experience of loss when it becomes utterly overwhelming. This book tells how, amid the shattered bits of our broken selves we can uncover divine sparks, and with them bring light to others. This book acknowledges that even in the grip of suffering we can choose: choose to listen to the message of hope, choose to craft our identity, choose to accept a worldview of faith in the good of the world, and choose to discuss our calling in healing the world..."

"As shattered vessels we hold fast to shards that can reflect the light of a good world into the dark corners of souls in despair. Our experiences in a place of darkness leave us forever changed, mindful of the comfort a listener can bring. Our time spent suffering teaches us that a thoughtful listener can lighten the burdens that overwhelm us. Our own moments of pain show us that a caring listener is a blessing. Through our own despair, we may become a source of comfort and hope to others. In the words of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, this simple but paradoxical truth is expressed as follows:
"Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the very thing which makes life so worthwhile to us now. Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have--the key to life and happiness for others. With it, you can avert death and "misery for them."
What it means to me is this: Rather than grieving for all the years I lost due to repeated depressive episodes, I no longer have to feel the losses has been in vein. The very fact that I've survived is enough.

And rather than dwelling on whatever I feel I haven't accomplished, I can offer great thanks for what I have. To know that beneath my darkness, misery, and loneliness are "divine sparks," that will "lighten the burden of others" is a true blessing. And for that I can be deeply grateful!

FYI...On Beyond Meds, I just read a wonderful article called The Value of Depression by retired psychologist Al Galves. I highly recommend it.


Gianna said...

today I'm in so much pain I can only take comfort in knowing that it won't be in vein.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Gianna,
I'm so sorry to hear that you're in so much pain. And, if Rabbi Spitz' message gives you a little spark of light, I'm glad I shared it.

I only wished we lived closer to each other, so that I could give you a big hug in person!

With love,

Periwinkle said...

Hi Susan,

I posted some pictures for you on my blog. You are an encouragement, it took me about 30 minutes to figure out how to do it, but I was determined not to give up!!

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Periwinkle,
That's great news. I'm leaving for a meeting, but I'll check it out when I return. Congrats!


marja said...

"To know that beneath my darkness, misery, and loneliness are "divine sparks," that will "lighten the burden of others" is a true blessing."

So so true. There IS value in having suffered, isn't there? We can comfort others and you do, Susan.

Love - marja

Wellness Writer said...

Thanks Marja, and welcome back. Hope you had a lovely few days of vacation!

Emma said...

Susan, once again I find myself thanking you. Your thoughts and observations fill both my heart and mind. It is such a comfort to know others share similar ideas, thoughts and feelings. I know I would not be the person I am today if I had not experienced the depression which has accompanied me most of my life. I would not change that.
My favourite book store loves you, as I prepare to place yet another book order!!

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Emma,
What's interesting to me is that I only feel this way when my depression is over or at least greatly diminished.

But I must say that Rabbi Spitz' book has made a world of difference for me. He uses a lot of examples of people from the Bible to make his points. And since I've been searching for spirituality lately, it's been very helpful as well.

Also, he believes that God doesn't abandon us when we're depressed, which is very comforting.

I'm glad we enjoy the same books. Feel free to recommend ones you're reading!


Tamara (TC) said...


You are lengthening my reading list! This book sounds wonderful and Rabbi Spitz sounds very wise.

What you are writing right now is so helpful to me. I am just coming out of a dark place after losing my dog (which I just came to understand triggered the time when I got Wyatt. I had just endured the loss of both of my grandparents and my previous dog within three months of each other).

I walked away from blogging, reading other blogs, my friends, email, the phone... now I am trying to re-establish myself and am feeling so like I don't belong anymore.

Nice of me to blog in your comment section, huh? You just really hit a nerve with your last few posts. Thank you!


Wendy Love said...

This has been great reading! And I am so thankful you share this info so I don't have to read the entire book, which can be overwhelming depending on how I am feeling. Your Rabbi author is right: God is real and he has not forgotten us, or anyone else! Hope today is a good day for you Susan.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Tamara,
I've loved reading your comments. They've actually provided solace for me, and I thank you.

And I know what it's like to return from a place of darkness and feel so isolated and alone.

I, too, "disappear" when I'm depressed. I've tried remaining more in touch with people, but it usually doesn't work because my needs during these periods seem so different than theirs. And it's difficult for me to physically speak.

I am so sorry for all your losses. I didn't realize you'd lost your grandparents and one of your dogs in addition to Wyatt.

In my case, my mother and my two dogs (Spike and Murphy)died within nine months of each other.

But, when Spike (who'd been by my side for 14 years died last summer), I felt like I couldn't experience one more loss. And then when I sunk into a depression last November, I'd never felt so alone.

Between missing my mother (who was my greatest champion) and Spike (who never left my side), I was truly devastated. It's been a long road back, which is one of the reasons I started therapy again.

So, I do understand. And I welcome you back with open arms.

Sometimes I feel that blogging is like playing a musical instrument in a virtual orchestra or band. We're playing the same song, but at different times. And it's really important that we connect so our sound is heard.

Anyway, I'm glad these posts have resonated with you. And you can always feel free to "blog in my comments section."

With love,

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Wendy,
Thanks so much. Glad you're enjoying these quotes. I hope your new blog is coming along. I've been swamped, and today is another busy day, so I'll try to drop by your blog tonight.


preciousrock said...

Thanks for sharing. Very true. I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments expressed in this post.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear preciousrock,
I'm off to class, but thanks for commenting on this!


Tamara (TC) said...


"Sometimes I feel that blogging is like playing a musical instrument in a virtual orchestra or band. We're playing the same song, but at different times. And it's really important that we connect so our sound is heard."

I love that! What a beautiful way to express the benefit of us connecting.

I am sorry that you experienced so much loss all at once. It is so difficult to lose the people (or animals) that really believe in us and offer us such loyalty and unconditional love and support. My grandparents were the only positive force in my childhood and when they died I didn't know if I would survive it. It was in losing them that I found my current therapist and she has been amazing in that she knows exactly how to work with me and the way that I put all of my emotions into my body as physical illness/pain. Wyatt was like my grandparents in that he thought I could do no wrong. I have never had a dog worship me like he did. I miss him so very much but slowly the new pup is bonding with me more and more. There will never be another Wyatt but in her own way she loves me and will be a comfort and support.

Susan, I am so glad that you are blogging again. I missed you while you were gone (and then again while I was gone!).

Many hugs,

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Tamara,
Thank you for all your comments today. I'm so glad your grandparents were there for you. And I understand how much you must miss them. I'm so pleased for you that you were able to find a therapist whom you like so much.

And Wyatt sounds like Spike. We got him the year after I was so ill, and he never left my side for the next 14 years! He was truly a dear dear friend. Having grown up with dogs, I'd never had one like Spike.

Many hugs in return!