When I go to my weekly 12 step meeting, there is a tent card on the table titled “Cross Talk Guidelines.” These guidelines are what make the meeting one of the most life-giving, challenging, and nurturing places I’ve ever been. As I’ve been moving through my recovery, I’ve started to apply the Cross Talk Guidelines to the rest of life – work, family, and most of all, the internet.
I’ve spent the past year recovering from, and coming to terms with, a depressive episode that happened at the beginning of last year. All depression alters you, but there are some encounters that reach so deeply into your core that they leave you permenantly, utterly changed. My breakdown of 2015 was such an episode, and I’ve spent the following months trying to come to grips with the experience, and the person I’ve become. I’ve spent the past year trying to fathom the experience – what it was, how to describe it, and what happened.
It was a year ago when I first came to the 12 Steps. Like so many others who find themselves sitting around that folding table, in cold metal chairs, and drinking bad coffee, I came broken. My life was rapidly spinning out of control, and for the previous 2 years I had kept it just barely – barely – within my grasp. But, by the time I finally stepped through those doors, smelling of cigarette smoke and terrified of what I might find, my interior world had reached a fever pitch of pain.
During my brutal battle with anxiety, depression, and being gay in the church, I struggled deeply with finding relatable, insightful words about how to survive depression. I found a lot of general, obvious advice: exercise more, find a good therapist, and get on meds being the top three. But when it came to real-life, personal advice from other strugglers, I found very little.