Depression Sunglasses: Why It’s Hard to See the Good (Even If You Know It’s There)

My husband and I are training for a half Ironman distance triathlon. While I could list several ways that this really hard training parallels facing and enduring life’s trials, I just want to share one simple analogy for depression that I came up with the other night.

Depression and Sunglasses

It was while we were on a long bike ride (68 miles) one Saturday evening. We got a late start because we had one son’s football game and then two more kids’ soccer games. It was about 5:45 by the time we got away. We rode out to the ranch on Antelope Island and then started back. The sun was setting and we were both still wearing our sunglasses. I worried about how quickly it was getting dark. Then I remembered I was wearing my biking sunglasses and slid them down to the tip of my nose, so I could see better.

Removing the Sunglasses; Seeing the Light and Beauty

I noticed two things immediately–First was that it was much lighter than I had realized, and second, that the sunset (which I had already thought was pretty) was infinitely more beautiful than it had appeared with my glasses on.

So, I rode up next to Blake and told him to take his glasses off and he noticed the same two things. Then I told him to put his glasses back on, but in his mind to try to hold onto what it had looked like with them off. This got increasingly harder the longer we went with our glasses on.

The Analogy

I told him that is what depression is like for me. I can remind myself that I know things around me are lighter and more beautiful than they seem to me. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact that what I see (and feel) is dark and dulled. Add to that the fact that I don’t have the luxury of removing the glasses whenever and I know that it is going to get darker before the sun comes up again.

And that is what depression is like and why it’s hard to be uplifted by remembering the good times. And why reminding myself that my thoughts are irrational and life isn’t so dark and gloomy is only minimally helpful. But there is still value in remembering that the light is there, even if I can’t see it. The point is to keep moving, no matter how dark it gets.