It takes great courage and spirit to arise from the challenges that confront us, and even more again to share this experience with others. Yesterday, it was very inspiring to hear the tennis player Jelena Dokic talk after her first round win at the Australian Open. She spoke openly about her struggle with depression which took her out of the game for several years, and her other family problems which have been well publicized by the press. In her eyes I saw a recognition of her own accomplishment not just as an athlete, but as a person rising up over adversity. Talking so openly, acknowledging and sharing her story, was an act of great strength. Her words were not spoken to gain sympathy but rather to share what this first step had meant to her.
I have a great deal of respect for this kind of honesty. It reminds me also of my own experience overcoming years of on and off depression. Acknowledging and talking openly about depression with friends, family, and colleagues wasn’t easy at first, but it was empowering to be able to say “this is what’s been happening and this is what I’m doing about it.” There were many occasions when others would in return open up to me about their own silent pain. The fact that I had started to seek assistance opened up the possibility for others to seek help as well.
One of the most harmful illusions during depression is that you are doing worse than everyone else and that you will be in the ditch for ever. I experienced a great deal of shame whenever I was in this state, and this shame meant that I hid my pain for many years even from those who loved and cared for me most.
Learning to accept suffering, pain, and loss as a part of life is essential to breaking down this shame. This recognition is a source of deep joy, peace, and power. This is what Jelena shared with us.
To give a message of support to Jelena go to: http://www.jelena-dokic.com/fans/guestbook.htm