A Simple Approach to Easing Depression


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn her young twenties, writer and activist Eileen Flanagan spent two years teaching English in the country of Botswana, neighboring South Africa and Zimbabwe. She ate, lived, and slept in a 180 square-foot mud hut and was quite content. Then life got a tad more complicated … she married, had kids, and eventually found herself in a three-story house packed full of stuff: Barbie condos, heelies (sneakers with wheels), Wii games, electronic guitars, and microscopes. In her engaging new book, Renewable, she writes about her path back to simplicity and integrity—becoming a person whose decisions reflect the values she holds.

I was especially moved by her first “awakening” in the middle of the night, when she realizes her ideals are not in sync with her lifestyle, and feels the knot in her stomach that so many of us experience when we spot a place in our lives where integrity is missing.

She had been on Google Earth and looked up Bobonong, where she lived in Botswana. She saw the rivers were all dry, a result of global consumption. She thought about a dear friend of hers there, and how her children were just a few years older than her own. She writes:

“At 3:00 am, I stared at the ceiling, tears streaming down my face, as Tom slept next to me under the down comforter. I looked in the dark at our ceiling fan, larger and classier looking than the one in our old house, and I wondered: How the hell did I become a woman who has a big house, a chemical peel appointment, and stock in a fracking company? How did I become so sucked into the American mainstream, and what can I do to create the kind of life—the kind of world—I really want?”

I had that same sort of epiphany two nights ago.

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Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

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5 Responses
  1. Patricia Hills-Burtner

    Therese, I really enjoyed your email today! I have a little bit (try alot) of doing to align myself with my core being. But today is a good day to start again !

    I looked online in my county library for both Resilient and Eileen Flanagan. No hits under either category. Do you know someplace cheaper than Barnes and Noble to find a copy. If you don’t have time to reply, I completely understand
    given today’s post! Still loved the article and I’ll still keep looking for the book. Thank you 🙂 !

    1. Patricia Hills-Burtner

      Therese, no worry about answering my first reply. Just looked again at your post and see the book is Renewable. It is always good to look twice!

  2. I can really relate to two aspects of this beautifully written post… the claustrophobic sensation of a life that has become ‘cluttered’- actively working to offload at present- and… potentially much harder to rectify.. the inner conflict that comes with living other than according to your ‘true self’… I really struggled with this after coming to Islam. I felt thrown in my own identity as life shifted and I sought to relocate myself through this unfamiliar lens… the expectations of others weighed heavily on me… those who resisted and even resented the ‘changes’ in me and those who expected me to emerge from the shell fully fledged and unflawed… to be ‘born knowing’… it took me a long time to find my center and work out from the core and to find the courage to allow my inner development to show outwardly… it was an identity crisis anyway as I strove to ‘become’ the me I had always had inside of me behind layer upon layer of insecurity and dysfunction and confusion but to take on the expectations of others added such obstacles to the process that it became painful and stalled me and left me feeling low and a coward. For me turning sincerely to my creator and asking Him to guide me towards that true self most pleasing to Him, and to grant me the courage and faith to cast off my concerns about the opinion of anyone but Him was strengthening and the first step towards finding my way back to me. Its a life long journey no doubt but I’m full of gratitude to be living life free of the shackles of what others think… I still have my moments but with His help I have made progress and quite frankly its easier to breathe.