surviving depression

Choosing Depression

Depression 5

Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash

It’s a bargain. It’s always a bargain.” The man sighs. “I offer you a choice. Either way I get the better end of the deal, but you think you’ve won. And that’s the way it works.”

I won’t think I’ve won,” I answer.

You will. Briefly, at least.” The man raises an eyebrow. “Here is what I offer: I can take your depression. I’ll deliver it to someone who wants it. He’ll wear it around his heart like a necklace of bone and sorrow. But when I take it, I will take all your memory of your depression. You will never know what you have been strong enough to face. You will never know how much of your own demons you have conquered. You will not recall the darkness of your struggle. And,” he raises a finger, “You will never know that someone loved you enough to carry your burden.”

You love me?”

Someone must, to offer to take your depression from you.” He tilts his head. “Because depression cannot be created or destroyed. It can only be passed on from one person to another, until the end of time and the Dawn comes.” He wrinkles his nose at that word, but smooths it away quickly. “So yes. Someone is offering to take your depression. And all you’ve gotten from it.” (more…)

Apparently it’s time to be stupid again.

Depression 4

Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

It started about the time I went to bed, as it usually does.

My brain decided to glom onto a problem. Now, it is a real problem: How to teach the youth of the congregation about Jesus in a way that draws them to Christ. Many of the things we’ve attempted to do – both traditional and not – simply haven’t worked well. Right now we’ve got a glut of children reaching sixth grade in the next school year, and that means it’s time to start confirmation.

And my brain decided last night was a good time to start really working on how to teach them. My preference would be to have the parents teach at home, while once a month I gather everyone to do a good review and test to make sure everyone’s actually learning everything. But if the parents aren’t teaching their kids now, how could I expect them to do it next year?

Gather all the children together once a week? Unlikely. As it is now, many of the children can’t make it to church weekly because parents or children are “too busy.”

Do I journey to all the homes once a week, as I did the year previous? Possible, but with that many children, I’d have to drop some other duty.

And my brain whirled round and round. The parents are going to be angry. They’ll say that it doesn’t matter what we teach the kids. They’ll ask why I’m changing things. Why can’t we do it the way we’ve always done it? Why do we need to teach them anything at all?

I want you to understand: The problem my brain decided to pick at is a valid problem to consider. The goal is a good one: How to help our children grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.

The problem was that my brain would not let go of the problem. I could not release the jaws of my mind to allow me to sleep, to rest. No, there was no rest at all. And the imagined scenarios got more and more outlandish, and all of them ended with the church bursting into flames one way or another. And my stress level kept on going up and up.

This is a bad sign. It’s the kind of thing my depression does when it’s deciding to bodyslam me. (more…)

I love you when you’re empty.

benjamin-castillo-498669-unsplash

Photo by Benjamín Castillo on Unsplash

I know you are broken. I know there’s no reason. I know that you’re hollow. I know that tears come, and there’s no cause.

I love you.

I know there’s no reason for me to do it. I know you don’t have anything to offer.

I love you.

I don’t love you because you offer me anything. If I did, it would be a transaction, not love. If I loved you because you gave me something, as soon as you had nothing left to give, there would be nothing for me to love.

No. I love you.

I don’t regret it. I don’t look at you and think that I’ve wasted my love. I don’t look at you and wish you were more worthy.

I love you. (more…)

An Unexpected Answer

I’m not normal.

One of the ways that non-normalcy manifests is my stubborn refusal to answer, “How are you doing?” with anything but the truth. I won’t burden you with a half-hour story when you really are looking for a two-syllable answer, but I also won’t lie. How am I doing? OK. Decent. Not great. But I won’t lie and say “Fine” if I’m not.

That puts people off sometimes. When most people ask, “How are you doing?” they’re not actually asking what those words mean. They’re really acknowledging your existence and expect an acknowledgment in return. So, when I answer with anything other than “Fine” or “Good,” they get confused. I’ll be honest: I kind of relish that confusion.

That honesty causes me trouble, though. It makes me very vulnerable. People know how I’m doing just by asking. I’m not hiding behind a mask of professionalism or fake stability. (Oddly enough, being transparent in an age where people hide such problems makes the other person feel vulnerable as well.)

So this week, when a mentor asked me, “How are you doing?” and I answered, “Pretty decent,” he knew something had changed.

Something has turned. I can’t say I’ve conquered depression or anything like that – I mean, really, I haven’t done a whole lot to conquer anything other than slow down and start doing some counseling. I can say that…maybe I’m accepting things and learning to look at things differently? I don’t know. (more…)