Wow. Not often do you see that level of emotional honesty and eloquence combined. To be able to both experience and express that is impressive.
I find myself thinking of two quotes. One is from a fantastic little book I read recently called "Let Your Life Speak" by Parker J. Palmer, about finding true vocation. He doesn't use the term vocation in the sense I'd always heard it before, as a spiritual calling (though he is Quaker and therefore sees all of life as a spiritual journey). Instead, he pointed out that the word vocation has the same Latin root as the word "voice." To him, finding and following your vocation means letting your true voice be heard, your true self be seen, not necessarily what others expect of you, nor what you expect of yourself. (That last was the kicker for me. I've done a good job of shaking off other peoples' expectations of me. I didn't realize what rigid expectations I put on myself. I don't have to be Ghandi; I just have to be me. To quote a Hasidic fable: "Rabbi Zusya, when he was an old man, said, "In the coming world, they will not ask me: 'Why were you not Moses?' They will ask me: 'Why were you not Zusya?' " But I digress.)
Anyway, the point I was getting to came from Parker, who described his depression as an important part of the journey in which his soul learned to 'speak' his vocation. A turning point was when his therapist told him: "You seem to look upon depression as the hand of an enemy trying to crush you... Do you think you could see it instead as the hand of a friend, pressing you down to ground on which it is safe to stand?" It struck me that you've seen it that way, that you've been able to let the depression be a time when you can "lie low" and catch your breath until you're able to fly again. Which is sometimes a very needful and helpful place to be (albeit painful - Oh no, not another learning experience!).
The other wasn't truly a quote, but a song that started playing in my head when I read about your trip. (There's always music playing in my head: it's like built-in Muzak. Only better quality, I hope!)
Dan Fogelberg, Same Auld Lang Syne:
We drank a toast to innocence,
We drank a toast to time.
Reliving in our eloquence,
Another 'auld lang syne'...
Just for a moment I was back at school,
And felt that old familiar pain,
And as I turned to make my way back home,
The snow turned into rain...
Brian, I raise my glass in a (belated) New Year's toast to you... for your insight, for your honesty, for your eloquence, and for being able to take a pretty crappy situation and learn and grow from it. (And, come to think of it, for being the only person I know who uses more obscure Bab 5 quotes than I do! :)) Would that we all could deal with our darkness that constructively!