I was alone in the dark bedroom. I had pulled the sheet and blanket up over my head to shut out the world. I wanted no light; no sound; not even a speck of floating dust to touch me. I wanted to not BE.
Pain so bad it took my breath away filled every fiber of my being. Not physical pain. Emotional pain. And fear, yes there was fear. If I could just shut the world out for a few moments I might find some relief from this pain. Perhaps I could sleep? Probably not. Often elusive, sleep came for me with great difficulty and even if I did manage to slip into a sleeping state I knew it would not be restful. Because the dreams waited for me. Vivid, realistic, outlandish dreams.
What I craved was oblivion. Not total oblivion. I wasn’t suicidal. I just wanted to escape from the demands of the world for a few moments; a few hours. It had been three months since my descent into depression and the demons that had pulled me down into the abyss were still there. Only now, I knew them by name and battled with them daily. My counseling sessions could only be classified as a success. Which is why I was in such pain. War is painful. Battles are costly. The battlefield is stained with blood.
I felt a hand on my back, soft and tentative. I recoiled. I did not want to be touched! Leave me alone! Let me suffer in silence! Please!
But, that hand did not recoil. It was my wife. She slowly stripped back the covers and leaned into my space. I felt her warmth and life, the things that I was trying to escape. But, my wife cared enough about me to push past my feeble rejection of her touch. She helped me sit up and she embraced me. Mark Sutton talks about his own response to a hug. “It’s like hugging a tree”. My wife was hugging something with even less energy!
But slowly I melted. I relaxed into her embrace and the tears flowed and the pain leaked out and the darkness lessened. The light of her love for me filled my world and let me see hope again.
I’m a hugger. I have always been a hugger. My family hugs. But, when I am depressed, hugging or touching someone is the LAST thing I want. I believe it is because I realize the healing power of touch; the restorative power of a hug and I don’t want it. Oddly enough, we who are depressed love our isolation. We really do. There is some perverse, twisted rationality behind wallowing in our misery. Perhaps we think we deserve it. Perhaps we don’t have the energy to do anything else. Perhaps it is because we loathe our very selves. Discovering why is the reason we go to counseling.
But, the power of a simply touch from a friend or loved one cannot be underestimated. Studies have shown that physical contact stimulates the areas of the brain that are counter to depression. You see, in today’s world we are more connected than ever with out superior technology but this means we are more isolated than ever. We have replaced the human touch from our friends and family with the tactile cold touch of our smartphones or our laptops.
Today, get out of that black, dark cocoon and seek out someone who cares for you. Reach out and touch someone with a handshake or simply a touch on the shoulder. They may turn around and surprise you with a hug!
To learn more about depression and the power of human touch check out my other website, conqueringdepression.com.