A Rough Patch

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I struggle with depression. When I say *struggle* it’s not constant. In fact, I haven’t had that familiar feeling of dread rise up in over two years. Until last Monday. Since then I’ve experienced episodes of depression daily. Luckily it tends to occur only in the mornings and then gradually subsides as the day goes on. It’s not moderate depression either. No, at times I’d label it severe. Severe enough to totally freak me out. Some days are worse than others. Today wasn’t that bad. This week is better than last week.

What will tomorrow hold? I don’t know. That’s part of the fear that comes with depression. One minute I’m fine, the next minute I’m not. There is reason for this, but I don’t have the time or energy to explain it right now.

I don’t have the time or energy to describe depression either, and luckily I don’t have to because Morgan Busse nailed it in a recent blog post. I shall therefore simply quote her:

Even though I was still around people, I felt such intense loneliness it hurt physically. Depression hung on me like a black shroud. At one point, I remember visualizing myself curled up in a ball, naked, laying on a rock in the middle of a raging storm out in the ocean, with the wind and the harsh rain pounding down on me. All alone.

I couldn’t hear God anymore. Up to that point, I could always hear God, feel Him near me. But not anymore. I would look up to see only black raging clouds. I knew God was around somewhere up above those clouds, but I couldn’t see Him like I used to. And my spiritual hearing was gone, like being hit by a blast wave that leaves you deaf.

The depression went on for months. I felt like I was drowning. I was still fighting to stay afloat, but there was part of me that wanted to give up and sink down into the waters and be done.

This empty, deathly feeling scared me. I’ve been depressed before, but usually the thought of my husband and kids drew me back. But this time it was not enough. I was afraid that I was going to give in to the desire and kill myself. It’s like standing on an edge, looking down, and having that wild feeling to throw oneself off.

Reading the above brought tears to my eyes. Morgan has described it perfectly.

Where is God? I know He’s there, but where is He? I can’t feel Him… Unfortunately the inability to sense His presence has been my default for far too long—the norm rather than the exception. I don’t need to feel God to know He’s there. He’s there. Through sheer force of will and stubborn refusal to give up, I’ve placed my trust in Him, the only lifeboat in this crazy world, and He’s kept me alive. I know He is there. I take it on faith, even if I can’t feel Him with my heart.

I’m not going to lie. Not being able to feel His presence is extremely tiresome. I don’t blame Him, though. I blame my chemical imbalance, which has the markings of this fallen world and my own sins all over it.

The Doctor’s Orders

In order to assure that this bout of depression is short-lived, part of my self-prescribed therapy is to talk about it. Out loud. To other people. This is a new skill I’m learning, by the way, so please be gentle. (In fact, many wonderful people have been kind enough to listen as well as pray for me, and I am extremely grateful.)

I’ve also self-prescribed a seven-step program, which I have followed in the past, but have rebelled against over the last couple years. My form of rebellion is very quiet and subtle. Due to my stubborn nature, it can also be rather prolonged. Over the course of years, quiet and subtle rebellion tends to snow ball into roaring dysfunction. That’s been my own experience anyway. If only I followed Kathleen’s advice in 1998 rather than trying to forge my own path, and then grumbling about the constraints when I finally decided to follow her path.

But it’s too late for “if only” and I’m quite tired of being hard on myself, so I’ve decided to offer myself grace.

I’m on Day 9 of Step 1, still (after all this time) fighting those voices in my head that are screaming, “Just do all the steps at once!”

No. Do them in order. Because this is about more than healing my mixed up biochemistry. It’s also about developing an obedient heart.