This TED talk from Andrew Solomon is astounding in its honesty and depth. His words are the words I wish I would have heard when I was in the trenches of a family member’s depression. It is a necessary complement to our conversation with Jennifer Michael Hecht on suicide.
If we are to ask those who are in their darkest moments to “stay,” then we must ask of ourselves a special kind of empathy. It is impossible to listen to Andrew Solomon and not feel the profound emptiness of depression and the depths that one must travel to reach the surface again. His words are an act of courage, and a comfort to those enmeshed in the struggle.
“The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality, and these days, my life is vital, even on the days when I’m sad. I felt that funeral in my brain, and I sat next to the colossus at the edge of the world, and I have discovered something inside of myself that I would have to call a soul that I had never formulated until that day 20 years ago when hell came to pay me a surprise visit. I think that while I hated being depressed and would hate to be depressed again, I’ve found a way to love my depression. I love it because it has forced me to find and cling to joy. I love it because each day I decide, sometimes gamely, and sometimes against the moment’s reason, to cleave to the reasons for living. And that, I think, is a highly privileged rapture.”