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When troubled by having grown up as an adopted child, I let insecurity and self-doubt take root. Reason eludes me. I have given that negative state a name—Edgar. Like burning flames, Edgar is fueled by his own energy. Like fire, he feeds on everything, which he transforms into negative thoughts about my past, present, future. Edgar is a demonic artist who paints the world in stark tones of black and gray. Like a disease, Edgar undermines my physical well-being. Edgar lurks, waiting to arise when I am feeling healthy and balance…he is poised for the kill.

From my memoir The Goodbye Baby: A Diary about Adoption

Depression. I’ve battled with it for a lifetime, and no matter how much I try to avoid going down the “slippery slide,” it comes along with every perceived failure or dashed hope. It’s almost as though something within me has decided, “Elaine, the adoptee who was not good enough for her birthmother to keep, does not deserve to be happy.”

definition_depressionThe reason I’ve labelled this emotional state “Edgar” and not just “depression” is that one of my literary heroes and spiritual leaders, the late Hugh Prather, called his own sadness and doubt “Edgar.” In lectures, of which I attended many, Prather would describe waking up each morning and finding that his nemesis, a depression he referred to as “Edgar,” was right there on the pillow, teeth bared and ready to gnaw away at heart and soul. Prather spoke of beating “Edgar” back into his cage and locking him up.

The metaphor that works for me is similar. I acknowledge the infuriating recurrence of Edgar. Rather than beating him with a club and sending him into a dungeon, however, I outrun him. I go outdoors for a walk or a hike, in the process usually re-setting my mind. The air cleanses and refreshes me. The movement feels

wonderful. More often than not, I forget about being miserable. It’s a powerful way to not only ward off whatever “Edgar”

might be bothering me, but also IMG_1350to burn calories. It’s almost like getting revenge.
To Edgar, I say “Thank you for sharing. Now let me get on with my life.”