With Depression, Nothing Is Permanent


Robert J. Wicks, psychologist and bestselling author of Riding the Dragon, recently told me a story about impermanence:

A psychiatrist (Epstein) went to Thailand with some colleagues to meet a well-known Buddhist sage.  As they were about to leave they asked if he had a final message for them.

He was drinking a glass of water at the time so he held it up and said, “You see this glass.  I love this glass.  It holds water so I can drink from it.”

He then held it up to the light and said, “When the sun shines through it you can see colors.”

“It also plays music.” He set it down and pinged it with his finger to make a noise.

“Then when I set it down, the wind blows through the window, knocks it over, and breaks it,” he said. “And because I know this possibility to be true, I love this glass even more.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about impermanence lately.

It is the one thing that gives me hope when I am in severe pain, and a concept that grounds me when I lose track of what’s important.

All things change. Even those emotions and situations that you are 100 percent certain are permanent, like treatment-resistant depression or a chronic illness or a hole in your heart left by the death of a loved one.

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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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3 Responses
  1. Anne

    That story was beautiful- about the glass of water. So was Michelle’s. There’s something about stories that often communicate better than straight-to-the-point words may…

    I’ve never wrote here before, but like many others out there, I thank you so much. Earlier this year I came across Beyond Blue/this blog when I was wandering the internet looking for depression support and articles that were helpful, and I printed a couple out… and held on to what they said. Your writing is so connectable (sorry I can’t think of the right word now, I mean able to connect with reader), and like the water in that glass of water- clear and flowing.

    Came here after writing a spiel on my blog about my experience with depression. The last part of it I’ll just leave here.

    //so i only hope that i can hold on to this, even though the pressure is building now that the first half of the break has passed, and so has that of this year, and now my focus will have to be on the exam at the end of the year. hold on to the self-worth that i have regained, hold on to the friends and family who walk with me and continue to believe in me even when the skies themselves seem empty, hold on to the things in life that make it worth living. and there is so much that is worth living for, and it is vital to hold on to that and know that to be true, even when it feels like there is nothing worth living for anymore. and that to be free of this pain would be worth even giving up all was once beautiful, and wondrous, and awe-inspiring.

    well, if you have read this all up to this point, i’m sorry for having had you read such a heavy post, a lead-lined post. and thank you, thank you more than you can ever know, to the people who reblogged that post. to not kill yourself. that feeling is impossible to transmit through words, only by experience (the feeling when you wish to give up life. your own individual, irreplaceable life). and to know that people care, and to have seen on that very post that it saved someone’s life, is a thing of power.

    it’s unlocked feelings in me that had been washed over, like sand beds on an ocean floor. it unleashed a storm too, i was crying so hard, but i’m not, right now. i found reasons to smile again, i’d found them along the way in my walk through depression. the pure, invaluable love of those who love me. like gold, like a mist, like stardust, that isn’t material, but beyond it.

    and i know that it may not always be, but it will be okay.//

    1. Therese Borchard

      Thanks so much, Anne, for your kind feedback, and for sharing your own words. I’m sure that they help many others.
      Peace to you, Therese

  2. Anne

    “And then her heart changed, or at least she understood it; and the winter passed, and the sun shone upon her.”
    — J. R. R. Tolkien