This post is inspired by a post by George Amoss about genes, depression, and spirituality found here
I was going to write it all in the comment section but it just got too darn big.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident!" she shouted, "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
"As she cried out the words she felt a mind moving in on her own, squeezing her brain. Then she realized Charles Wallace was speaking, or being spoken through by IT
"'But that's exactly what we have on Camazotz. Complete equality. Everybody exactly alike.'
"For a moment her brain reeled with confusion. Then came a moment of blazing truth. "No!" she cried triumphantly. "Like and equal are not the same thing at all!"
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
First I must tell you how really important this post is to me and how very much it not only resonates but inspires, as Poirot would say, "the little gray cells." And speaking of gray cells, I that anyone who is familiar with my own blog knows that I have struggled with depression and anxiety most all of my life. "Struggled", however, is not always the word with the right connotation. I have also noted in my dealings with many Buddhists, and Pagans, and Christians, and even with atheists that my sadness is often counted as a spiritual failing or at least as a barrier to my ability to be joyful/rational/successful. It makes people very uncomfortable to see my sadness. It makes them more uncomfortable, I think, that I am not very interested in ridding myself of it. Alleviate it? Retreat from it? Take a break from it? Sure. But rid myself of it? No way. To quote from Star Trek's boldest captain, "I need my pain!" It is the sensing device I use to recognize my call to service in a battered world. It does me no good to bend to the will of those who want me to medicate myself into complacency. My brain is different. It is not defective. Again from Star Trek (this time Dr. Crusher) "If there is nothing wrong with me, there must be something wrong with the universe."
There are those who counsel me that my tendency to melancholy and even to occasional bouts of despair is a disease to be treated, a spiritual barrier to be overcome, a darkness upon which light must be shed. But, I don't see it that way. I have seen my own depression and doubt not as a barrier between myself and "God", but my strongest connection. Every moment of profound spiritual revelation has come to me through this darkness. The world and everything in it comes to me in a very raw, heavy, painful way sometimes. But the flip side of that is empathy and compassion. I try to understand the world through my intellect, but the world comes to me through my emotions. Every decision I make is a result of the fact that I know that I cannot shut myself off from the world's pain. As a Pagan, I know the Sacred resides in the body of the Earth, in my body and in the body of my fellow creatures- all interconnected. What harm we do to another we also do to ourselves. I believe that, but also I feel it and so I am very motivated to confront it.
Lastly, I want to mention a few who have inspired me to believe that the brains we have, neurotypical or not, are the brains best suited to answering our spiritual calling: Hildegard of Bingen, Margery Kempe, Emily Dickinson, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Charlotte Perkins Gilman,Margaret Fuller, William James, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Leo Tolstoy...the list goes on. Surely their value in the world was not in spite of the pain they carried, but also because of it.
Thanks, George, for writing as you do, for thinking as you do...Thank you for holding up darkness and difference for healthy examination and for challenging our cheerful brethren to remember that black sheep happen too. Ain't nothing wrong with your brain.