Sometimes I don't realize the progress I've made until I have to point it out to someone else. It's easy for me to sit alone and think that nothing's changed - to think that it's been five months since this all started and I'm Still. Not. Better. And from there, it's a small step to wondering if I ever will be. But when I talk to others who are struggling, I find myself encouraging them by talking about the progress I've made.
In a recent conversation with a dear friend who is now struggling with a depression of her own, she said, "It just feels like it's never going to end. I look ahead and all I see is darkness." Boy do I know how she feels. And I told her as much. I told her about how hopeless I felt all those months ago, how convinced I was that there was no other side, no better place to be reached. But I also told her that I see it now, that light at the end of the tunnel. It's far away, just a tiny light in the distance, and sometimes things get in the way, and I lose sight of it again. But it's there.
I told her: "One day, a man walked down the street, and he fell into a deep, dark hole. He looked and looked, but he couldn't find a way out. A priest walked past the hole, and the man said, 'Help! I've fallen in this hole, and I can't find the way out.' The priest prayed for him, then left. Next came a doctor, and the man said, 'Help! I've fallen in this hole, and I can't find the way out.' The doctor wrote him a prescription and tossed it in the hole, then left.
"Finally, a friend came by the hole, and the man said, 'Help! I've fallen in this hole, and I can't find the way out.' So the friend jumped in the hole with him. 'Why did you do that?' asked the man. 'Now we're both stuck in here!' But the friend responded, 'That's okay, I've been in here before. I know the way out.'"
My friend was not thrilled with my story, as she pointed out, "But you don't know the way out! You're still here!" I admitted that this was true - I am still deep in the hole myself. "But," I told her, "I know there is one. I can see it there. And we can find our way to it together."
And so we shall. Someday.