Geese, Golf Carts, and Unexpected Laughter: A True Story About Depression

For a fair stretch of time a few years ago, I was depressed. I still functioned in the ways that you're expected to function when you're an adult. I worked. I parented. I showed up. But I was a shell of myself.

I'm a positive person by nature, and I have strong faith in the Lord. These factors aren't mutually exclusive from depression. With every bit of resolve and emotional fortitude left in me, I tried to not appear like I was struggling, even to myself.

I still remember the afternoon when I realized how long I had been lurking in the shadows and how dark those shadows had grown. My husband had invited me to ride along in the cart when he went golfing. (If golf were a love language, Joel would speak it fluently.) I accepted the invitation.

I don't recall if he played all 18 holes or just 9, but I do remember that we encountered a flock of geese wandering the course, which apparently is common on a golf course. Flying rats, Joel had called them. Then he steered the golf cart toward the next tee box, cutting through the middle of the gaggle of geese so they parted ways, honking and lifting a few feet off the ground, as we drove through their midst.

Something about the scene, I'm not exactly sure what, struck me as comical. I smiled. It was a genuine smile. Then, inexplicably, the situation morphed from mildly comical in my head into oddly, irrevocably, ridiculously comical. I mean, all those flapping geese wings! The honking! The random way they scattered! My smile brimmed over into a laugh, and the laugh wasn't forced or fake. I couldn't stop my shoulders from shaking and my chest from heaving in laughter simply because Joel had driven our golf cart between some geese.

While Joel walked to the tee box and I wiped tears from my eyes from my weird display of laughter, I noticed the blue of the sky and the green of the grass and the pleasing way the fence edged the side of the golf path. My breathing felt fuller, as if my lungs had been released from constriction. More than I could express in actual words, I felt something in my heart: I'm feeling a real feeling right now, and that feeling feels happy. This feeling had been absent for so long I hadn't known if I was capable of feeling it again. 

That's the moment I realize that I had been depressed. The resurgence of a normal feeling — in this case, happiness — even from such a peculiar source (honking geese, really?), highlighted that I hadn't had normal feelings in quite some time. I had been wrung out, hollow, numb. But here I was, shoulders shaking and tears brimming from laughter.

None of it made sense, but it was something, and something felt better than nothing, which had been my default.  

Since then, life hasn't been all rosy, of course, because life is messy, and people are messy, and circumstances can be hard. But I confidently can say that it's much better — or, more aptly, that I'm much better. I talked with my doctor to address the physical elements of depression. I sought guidance from a trusted counselor. I'm in much closer community with an amazing group of faithful friends than I was then, which has been invaluable. (Good friends love you through your things, and in turn, you love them through their things right back.) 

And God. Oh, the care and goodness of God to handle all my feelings and prayers, all the chaotic emotion and numbness that I flung his way and cast at His feet. What healing he's brought to my heart. Along with the psalmist, I can testify that the Lord is the lifter of my head.

The void of feeling, the numbness, the dearth of happiness — it wasn't permanent. It was temporary. I'll never forget that first glimmer of hope, one that came in the weirdest of ways: geese, a golf cart, and unexpected laughter.

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