An excerpt from Finding Fullness:
[Now that I’m in my thirties, can I look at myself in the mirror without wishing it would crack into a million pieces? I’d like to think so. But honestly, it’s still a struggle. Once, in college, I watched out of the corner of my eye as a woman in the gym lovingly applied lotion to her entire body, in front of the room-length mirror, apparently oblivious to anyone (me) nearby. On a bench a few feet away, midway to pulling a large bottle of shampoo out of my locker, her contented smile caused my preconceptions to swerve and brake. Too late. My mind flipped a guard rail and went hurtling off into the waves below. She wasn’t Kate Moss; she didn’t have some model’s body, just an average woman’s body in reasonably good shape. But she clearly loved her body unashamedly. She was enjoying it. I watched her as surreptitiously as I could, fascinated. How does she do it? Can I figure out how to love my body that way?]
This week I had a really fun talk with my ten year old about Depression. Yes, you read that right. I took out a piece of paper and drew a circle in the middle of it, and wrote "depression" inside. "Do you know what that means, Cooper?"
"That's right. What kinds of things make people feel sad?"
"Uhh...Breaking up with your girlfriend?"
I drew a bubble above "sadness" that said "Breaking up with someone." We went on, adding more bubbles, bubbles for what you think to yourself when you feel sad, what you can do to help yourself feel better, who you can talk to, and warning signs to watch out for, like "I hate myself," and "I want to die." We talked about suicide and Cooper drew a little picture of a guy falling off a cliff next to that bubble.
"Always remember how much we love you, okay, kiddo?"
My family has a history of extremely functional depression, the kind of depression you can have and somehow manage to acquire advanced degrees. I wished that someone in my family had sat me down and told me all this when I was ten. Perhaps I could have skipped all the "I hate myself," and "I want to die," stages and landed more lightly and earlier on the soft ground of loving myself and my body completely.