Archives For Depression

'Depression' photo (c) 2008, Eddi van W. - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

I’m going to be honest: I don’t know how to thrive. From the outside, my upbringing was white, middle-class suburbia. From the outside, my current life is the same: white, middle-class suburbia. But on the inside, it was chaos.

It still is.

I have been in survival mode all of my life. The chaos around me–messy house, messy car–feels normal. It’s what I know.

Either that, or I don’t care. Life has been about finding that one bright, shining place. A quantum of solace, if you will. This will make me feel good. That will make me feel normal. It never works.

My sleep is worse than ever, but I still get up, go to work, do what I have to.

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It’s not bad to feel ashamed when we’ve done shameful things. There is such a thing as a healthy regret. We’ve all done things we wish we hadn’t.

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This post is not about that kind of shame. But rather about the shame that we, the culture, and church project. The kind that makes us worry more about our reputations, than about getting the help we need.

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In her seminal work, On Death and Dying, the late Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identified five stages of grief:

denial

anger

bargaining

depression

acceptance

While she wrote specifically of death, and think these stages can rightly be applied to nearly any hardship. Take chronic illness for instance. We may deny the cancer, or other ailment, but wishing doesn’t make it go away. So we progress to anger, shaking our fists at the heavens, declaring “This isn’t fair, God! Take it away.”

When he doesn’t, we bargain–telling him “If you’ll…, I’ll…” It seems however that he doesn’t respond to such conditional statements, wanting to be loved (rather than analyzed). When this bargaining doesn’t work out, we often fall into depression.

Thoughts of hopelessness swirl through our heads, clouding our vision, obscuring the way ahead. We can’t see the light for the tunnel is one of (seeming) perpetual night. But this is a trick of perception. We are locked in our skins, time bound, lives progressing in one inexorable direction.

But God is outside of all that. Above, beyond, transcendent: not bound by the laws of physics that keep us tethered to our mortal frames. By implication this means that his goodness is also transcendent–above the artifices and capriciousness of man. We–Christians–who claim to know him best are often the worst at this:

Just because God can do a thing, doesn’t mean he must. Because he has the power to heal, doesn’t mean he will heal. I believe we, especially in the American Evangelical church, are truly bad at this–believing that God somehow owes us something.

That He must heal us. He must do nothing of the sort. A far greater petitioner asked that a certain cup be taken; it was not. And if his request was thus denied, doesn’t it stand to reason that some of ours will be as well? As it says in Hebrews, “He (Jesus) learned obedience through those things which he suffered.”

Our expectations for lives of ease and comfort run smack dab into the very real road of pain we must walk. And so we get tripped up in the stages of grief, and vacillate between denial, anger, bargaining, and depression.

Never believing that by embracing acceptance we will find freedom.

One of the principles of recovery, recited as litany week after week, is: “Accepting, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is.” Meaning that, as a fallen world, bad stuff happens.

Even to God’s children.

Please join me in the Serenity Prayer:

“God grant the courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Amen.

Wisdom here dictates that God does not always answer our prayers the way we wish, or end our suffering when we wish. I wish he did, but until that day when he “shall wipe away every tear,” I pray for serenity, and for the grace to navigate my broken self, and this fallen world.

Will you join me?

The Holidays Can Be Hard

randomlychad  —  November 22, 2012 — 4 Comments

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I know today is Thanksgiving (here in the US, anyway). I know it’s supposed to be a happy day, a day of feasting, and family.

But for some, the holidays can be hard. Very hard. Some want to give up, but press on. Others, facing a season alone, opt out–not wanting to face life alone.

Statistics show that the incidence of suicide increase during this season.

Are you a divorcee, facing a season alone, a widower, or widower alone now for the first time since… you can remember? Are you perhaps hundreds, or thousands, of miles away from friends or family?

I want you to know that you are not alone.

Last year, I was very privileged to contribute to an anthology of true stories called Not Alone: Stories of Living With Depression (Link to Kindle edition; a paperback copy can be ordered from the link to the right, or on Amazon).

I have not, nor will I receive, any compensation for my participation in this project. But knowing that my story, along with those of many others, is out there is compensation enough.

Because it has helped people. And that is more than any remuneration could ever be.

I know the the holidays can be hard, but there is hope.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Recently, someone who was widely regarded as a light in my community died. As they were close to my age, this was shocking–a cold dose of mortality. Doubly so, because this was such a bright, warm, kind, intelligent, sensitive soul.

They brought a lot of hope to a great many souls in the dark times following 9/11.

I’not naive, I know the score: the human race has a 100% mortality rate. All die.

What I’m wrestling with is how, when they brought so much life to so many, how they had none held in their heart for themselves.

Shocking would have been a bad car accident, or a previously undisclosed condition, but suicide?

That’s right–this kind soul, a light to so many, had no light left for themself, saw no other way out. I’m having such a hard time reconciling the raw, jangling, exposed-nerve reality of it with what we knew of them.

How?

Why?

How could they leave their children behind?

It does not compute.

It seems the light that shone twice as bright burnt twice as fast. And I’m left wondering: were there signs I missed, anything I could have done? How did they go on, shining as they did, while dying on the inside?

How did they harbor such kindness for the community, but in the end had none for themselves?

It’s an enigma. One that raises the question of just how well we know anyone? And just how well are we ourselves known?

Depression is a soul-sucking monster; one that will kill you on the inside long before you die. If you feel, as they did, alone: that is a lie. One of the worst perpetrated upon the human race.

You are not alone, and I strongly urge you to confide in a trusted someone before you take that step that can’t be untaken. Please get help.

Please get help now.

Have you ever been depressed, or contemplated suicide?