Today I have been battling a migraine, and while it has mostly passed and my head feels more manageable I have also been batting a major depressive episode that has been creeping up on me over the last week. I began to notice that I was sleeping a lot and struggling with social things, work is mostly OK but I am having to take my time and do things one step at a time. Interestingly when folk have asked how I am and when I have spoken to people today I have been more likely to mention the migraine than the depression; the reason is simple, as much as I talk about what it is like to live with depression it is really not very well understood. Twice last week I was asked whether or not I had managed to pull myself together as if that were a real and physical/mental possibility.
I am much better than I was in November but am very aware that I am not operating at full capacity, I am able to work but sometimes the demands of work mean that I need to take time out to breathe, that breathing may mean walking or drawing and I see both as a form of prayer because they give me space to root myself in God.
So should I berate myself for suffering from depression? Would I berate myself for having a complex break to my leg or heart disease? No I would consider them painful and difficult and would probably receive more understanding and support than I get when I say apologetically , "actually today has been a tough day", but the truth is today has been a tough day and I barely got through yesterday, yes I stood and led a Covenant Service, and I am thankful for those who thanked me for it, and I knew that I was doing the right thing because the prayer we prayed speaks for itself;
'I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing,
put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you,
or laid aside for you,
exalted for you,
or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.'
The Methodist Covenant Prayer
You see being depressed is not a sign of lack of faith, nor is it a sign of weakness, in fact I would dare to say that to stand firmly in the deep love of God in Christ is more of a strength than a weakness. I can truly say that I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me, but not that Christ strengthens me to do all things. Depression is teaching me to rest in Christ, teaching me to accept my limitations and to say no, teaching me that if I push myself beyond the boundaries of self care and self love, both of which Jesus taught, that I have no strength. Depression is teaching me to draw deep from the ancient wells of contemplation and meditation and to realise that the power of the Gospel is not the power of the world and the triumph of God has more to do with the cross and the slowly, gently, quietly revealed ressurection. The ressurection that loosed the deep spiritual power of regeneration, of rediscovering, or returning to who we truly are in those who dared to see it as it is.
I am no longer my own, and in that truth I rest, as for God I trust that because he loved me first all will be well. So I accept that if I am to love God and to love others then I need to learn to love and care for myself, and through that I am finding a well of wisdom, not in my self love, but because at the end of all love there is God's creative, re-creative, healing presence...
I am no longer my own...