Those of us who experience recurring episodes of depression often come to believe that we are somehow flawed or defective. Yet, no matter how many episodes of depression you may have experienced, you are not the illness. The label “depression” or “mental illness” does not define who a person is but how he is suffering. A person’s spiritual essence transcends depression and cannot be touched by it or any condition. As the great 20th century visionary Pierre Teilhard de Chardin put it, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
The following delightful story expresses this truth
The $20 Bill Story
A well known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill. In the room of two hundred he asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?” Hands started going up. He said, “I’m going to give this $20 bill to one of you, but first, let me do this.” He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up. He then asked, “Who still wants it?” Still, the hands were up in the air. “Well,” he replied, “what if I do this?” He then dropped the bill to the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now all crumpled and dirty. “Now who wants it.” Still, the hands went up into the air.
“My friends,” the speaker said, “you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in life we are dropped, crumpled and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value.”
“You are special. Don’t ever forget it.”
This story makes it clear that even if we suffer from depression, there is a basic core of wholeness and goodness that remains our true essence. Affirming this inner light can help us maintain our self-esteem, even as our bodies and emotions struggle to return to wellness.