I just read an article in the Wall Street Journal about depressed leaders "Depression in Command," July 30-31, 2011. Some recent research has suggested that leaders who struggle with depression may actually be better equipped to lead in times of crisis--because they already expect life to be hard, and they emphathize with others.
Normal sane people, says the article, are slightly over-optimistic about life, and feel they have more control than they actually do. A person who struggles with depression is under no such illusions--they're already adjusted to the low-pressure atmosphere of realism and hard times. Some melancholy folks may be better equipped to lead when the lights go out.
Additionally, people who have suffered with depression have been shown to have much higher levels of empathy than normal, sane folk. I've experienced that. When all is right with the world, I don't want to cloud my mind with the troubles of others. But in times of suffering or low spirits, I empathize with those in trouble on a deep level. The article pointed to Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. as examples of people who had repeatedly struggled with depression, and who were therefore equipped to look hard times straight in the eye and spit back.
In me, these turned up some deep thoughts. Maybe, those of us who struggle with melancholy are not simply losers, broken, inferior. Maybe God is able to take our suffering and turn it to blessing, as he loves to do. Maybe in fact, if we bring it to him in trust, he has a purpose for it all.