I want to say a little more about my current experience of living with depression, a few days ago I blogged on the subject and it seemed to strike a chord with people, so I wonder if this will also. I know that depression can make me selfish, this is something I hate about it, my thinking can become so negative that I can burrow my way down a hole almost without realising it, I can also become obsessive about things. I wish this didn't happen because I know it not only affects me but also those around me, if this is you then I am sorry.
I also know that there are things I can do to help myself, things like exercising, eating well and trying to get enough sleep. I have to keep recommitting myself to these simple things, and that can take up a fair amount of energy. Other things that help are prayer and meditation, but perhaps most of all being gentle with myself and strangely or maybe not strangely that can be the hardest thing of all.
Here's the thing, it is no good me deciding on going to bed at night that tomorrow will be a good day and putting pressure on myself and the day for it to be so, it is much easier and more realistic to take one day and one step at a time. This means not over committing myself, and yet I need some commitments, so as I feel my way back into work my major commitments are preaching and leading worship, other things and meetings are taking a back seat, if I find I have the energy to do them then that is a bonus. If this makes me seem selfish again, I apologise, but the truth is it is where I am right now, so if you ask me to something and I say no please don't be offended, and believe me I probably want to say yes and there will be a struggle going on inside me. One of my biggest struggles is with the "ought too's", I ought to be able to do this that or the other, what kind of person/ minister am I if I don't? The simple answer is that I am a person/ minister who is suffering from depression.
That brings me to my next thought, I have encountered folk over the last few days who say things such as " well if you are ill you shouldn't be back at work", but the thing is sitting at home on my own does me no good, I need to be doing something, need to be joining in with the world, I may not be firing on all cylinders but I am firing and bit by bit through prayer, through meditation, through medication, therapy and time that fire will grow stronger within me. People recovering from physical illnesses and traumas are encouraged to return to work and while they may not be fully fit grow stronger day by day, that is how it is with me, I may look fine on the surface, but I am still recovering so please be gentle with me, but please also accept what I can and will offer too!
Is depression a weakness? Well yes it is, it is a disease, and a down right pain, and in my better moments it drives me deeper into God to find a holy strength from the one who will not let me go, in my worse moments I cling on by my finger tips until finally letting go I realise that he is holding me and has been all along. In this I view the condition as a gift, to be sure it is a strange gift but it is a gift nonetheless, it means that I cannot trust in my abilities gifts and strengths, I cannot claim the credit for achievements or good days. This is gift because it lifts the pressure from me to perform, I get up, I show up and I throw myself into the arms of mercy.
When I do show up please show me you care, please show me you are pleased to see me, but don't smother me I probably can't handle that. Finally, if you have taken the time to read this thank you, more than anything just knowing that someone is willing to walk a part of the road with you is hugely encouraging, and while I may not find the words to say so at the time please believe that I appreciate it, and one day, if you need someone I hope I am strong enough to accompany you. In all things one day at a time, trusting that all will be well.
Walk on the beach; image mine