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Buddhadharma : Summer 2005
buddhadharma| 83 |summer 2005 I’ve been a Zen practitioner for thirty years. Ten years ago I was in a deep depression. If I sat down to meditate, demons took advantage of the opportu- nity to torment me, until I could no lon- ger stand the pain. More than once I fled from the zendo, drove to the woods, and ran wailing through the trees. Iwasafraidtobealone.IfIhadacar trip that was more than a half-hour long, I had to stop at a pay phone to call some- one who could reassure me that I existed. I had no self, but it didn’t feel a bit like enlightenment. To my great disappointment, my long- time meditation practice wasn’t helping me, and I stopped sitting zazen altogether. The depression continued in bouts for several years. I was ill, and I got better. Now I sit regularly, both with my sangha and at home. I’m often restless and distracted, SuSan Moon IS the edItor of turnIng Wheel, the Journal of the BuddhISt Peace felloWShIP. She IS alSo the author of the lIfe and letterS of tofu roShI and edItor of not turnIng aWay: the PractIce of engaged BuddhISM, Both PuBlIShed By ShaMBhala PuBlIcatIonS. readers’ exchange: depression photo(detail)bysusanmoon i thought i Was alone By SuSan Moon but I’m grateful to be alive. I enjoy soli- tude, as well as the company of others. I’m no longer bewitched. What’s more, I often feel – I’ll come right out and say it – happy. As the depression recedes further into the past, it’s hard to believe I’m the same person who felt so wretched ten years ago. And as a matter of fact, I’m not the same person, though we go by the same name. But I owe a lot to that woman weeping in the phone booth by the side of the road. She couldn’t eat or sleep; she wanted to be dead, and yet she persevered for my sake. She survived, out of kindness to me, so that I could enjoy my life now. So what made the difference? What got me through the depression was support- ive friends and family, a therapist, being in nature, the passage of time, antidepres- sants, a new interest in photography, and faith in the dharma. I want to say something about the last three things. First, antidepressants: Zoloft helped me come out of the depression and,