You know it is going to be one of those days when you spend a good 5 minutes hanging dirty washing out on the line, I have to admit I kept thinking this isn't right, but it did take a while for me to twig that I hadn't actually washed it! Safe to say it is now back in the machine, and thankfully I can laugh at myself rather than bursting into floods of tears, but the truth is it could have gone either way! Despite that madness in some ways today is a triumph, well I am choosing to look at it like that, because I finally managed to make an important phone call, one I have been procrastinating over for days...
Indecisiveness, procrastination and forgetfulness are reminders for that I am struggling with depression, reminders to be gentle with myself and not to beat myself up, reminders that it OK not to get everything done yesterday, and more than anything a reminder to trust myself to the one who calls me into his rest. For years my favourite Bible verses have been Matthew 11: 28-30, I particularly like Eugene Peterson's rendition from The Message:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Today as I ponder this those words " Come to me, get away with me and you'll recover your life" resonate strongly, and while the urge to curl up on the sofa and watch junk TV is strong, I know that I am better giving myself into the arms of the one who will carry me through this time, the one who will walk the shadowed valley with me and promises never to leave me. Even better than that if I do choose to curl up and watch junk he will sit with me and hold my hand until I am ready to do something more for he knows me through and through and knows my weariness and my burdens.
This morning ( or is it afternoon now?) he has reminded me that when I need it he will carry me:
Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock,
gathering the lambs in his arms,
Hugging them as he carries them,
leading the nursing ewes to good pasture.
And while I tend to think of myself as mature, today I can only summon the energy to come to him today as a lamb who needs carrying, and that is OK! It is OK for today is not a day for scaling mountains, striking out in search of fresh visions or running ahead with a new initiative, today ( and tomorrow I suspect) are days for gentleness, healing and restoration, my soul is downcast, yet I long for streams of fresh and invigorating waters, my heart is battered and bruised, yet it yearns to beat to those unforced rhythms of grace, and it will for there is hope, but not today, today I need to enter into the rest that he offers, to give myself to it and to allow it to work in me...
Too often in the Christian life we expect ourselves and others to be on top and upbeat, seeing any other response as a lack of faith, but that is not true, life has many cycles, and some of us just don't have upbeat personalities, another blogger talking about her dealings with depression and medication says this:
They are like an emotional anaesthetic that dull the pain and allow you to function at a basic level; you can make it out of bed, you can brush your teeth, you can go to work – you can pretend to be ‘normal’.
For this is one of the most prevalent misconceptions about depression; that the person is somehow just being self-indulgent and all they need to do is “pull themselves together” and get up and go. These people live a privileged existence to believe it is as easy as that, for pulling yourself together after you’ve spent a lifetime pulling yourself apart is easier said than done. If you don’t believe this, drop a cup on the floor and see how easy it is to smash, then collect all the pieces and see how long it takes to put them back together. One incident, one trigger is enough to send a depressive into a negative cycle, but in my personal experience there has never been a single incident that suddenly made me think “you know what, I feel good about myself now”. It is probably that my brain is wired to have a predilection for negativity; for instance I often have – apropos of nothing – recollection of random memories from throughout my lifetime in which I’ve said or done something embarrassing that causes deep feelings of shame. I never suddenly remember that funny thing I said that made everyone laugh, or the intelligent thing that made everyone think – I remember the awful thing I said that makes mecringe. The idea that it’s just a matter of being a bit more stoical and soldiering on merely indicates the lack of understanding. Depression not only robs you of any zest for life, it can also literally rob you of the energy you need to survive on an everyday basis. Getting out of bed, washing, eating can all become insurmountable tasks that you just aren’t capable of. I once went eight days without eating and I didn’t even notice, because depression is all-consuming and subjugates everything else in your life, it is not a foolish thing you can just put to one side and forget about; it is everything, it is relentless, it is forever.
The raw honesty of her words is challenging, there is a possibility that rest may include medication, and that is not wrong, but neither do I find it to be the whole answer, I am more than a bunch of random chemicals that need re-ordering, and for me both the physical and spiritual aspects of life are important factors here. So rest for me might include swimming as well as listening to music, and allowing myself to take things one step at a time ( I met two groups of people yesterday and was exhausted), and it will probably mean giving in curling up and watching some junk TV, but I am up, and dressed, and have made a phone call, the washing is now washing, and that makes this a good day!