Instructions for Depression

This image is from a collage I made about collective healing. The turtles have laid their eggs and are heading back out to sea.

Images of elephants - trunk tied to trunk - have touched me ever since my mentor used this image to remind us of a helpful truth: that we are creatures of attachment. We belong to one another.

This is never so true as when we are experiencing great pain or great joy.

I wrote this poem after a hard day, and after listening to another's hard day. I was struck by how we never know what another is carrying until we ask. And we can underestimate how the small things we do each day keep us all going. We have such power!

If you're having a hard day today, this poem might meet you.

And if your day is overflowing with beauty and kindness, I hope you'll be the outstretched hand that holds another.

In truth, our days are filled with both:  we're both the hungry hand and the helping hand, and the days are easy, and hard. Even as the clouds of sadness hover over, I can feel the light, shining through:  the dawn is coming.

We look to the light.

(If you want to listen to something to lift your spirits, Melanie DeMore's song, "One Foot/Lead with Love" does it for me.)

Instructions for Depression

It is a hard day.

You wake with the heavy wetness

of last night's tears –

swampy worry for your son

the sharp knife of fear,

the metallic tang of loss.

When you call the line about your toll bill,

you're surprised by the sing song

voice of the woman who answers.

You're held by the way she tells you,

twice, how to resolve the broken tag.

Your favorite clerk calls you sweetie at

the grocery store, asks if you need

stamps or ice, help carrying

your groceries to the car.

Your friend's son gives your shoulders

a squeeze when he sees

you've come to the team dinner,


You follow the trail of kindness all day.

You can't see the way on your own –

You can only grasp each outstretched hand:

The driver who lets you in.

The book waiting on the library shelves.

The woman who asks for a ride

(it helps to feel needed.)

Your dog, climbing into your lap

licking the salt on your sweaty arms.

Thank goodness it doesn't stop.

All you have to do is

walk from stone to stone:

The path carries you.

For another day you've carried on.

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