"There was no month but May"
What happens when life has doled out more good things than you thought possible, a purpose and a passion you love, a solid group of engaging family/friends – and yet you are unhappy? Not annoyed as when you get stuck at a traffic light. Not disgruntled that your team played poorly and lost. Not frustrated about an unruly hair day. Unhappy. Staring straight in the face everything you would prescribe for joy and yet unaffected.
Depression is not a word I throw about nonchalantly. I fear using it incorrectly, making light of a serious condition with the potential to destroy lives. After a rather hellish week ignoring my own depressive symptoms, it came to mind that discounting my experience as “depression-lite” only grants it more power. Perhaps admitting my inconsistent, defeat-able struggles with depression can bring support to those who grapple daily against a foe beyond their power. I hope so.
My husband often tells me I am one of the most disciplined people he knows. It’s in my nature, and brings me joy to “lounge in structure.” My days are delineated with litanies, not attached to time as having three toddlers skews all attempts of abiding by a clock, but by activity. Mornings prior to waking children are greeted with tea, proverbs, and a bit of reading. Lunch always concludes with potty breaks, hand-washing, naptime book selections, and couch cuddles. Mondays we grocery shop, Tuesdays are library day, Wednesday is my mommy group, and Thursday we host a friend who plays with the kids while I take my weekly run. These structured times free me, enabling me to fully enjoy each moment. But last week, they suffocated me.
I have little knowledge of psychology, but I do know me. Introspection can be a curse, yet it is well informed. And I am surrounded by people unafraid to be frank with me. These gifts, wise words of love to inform me about me, are powerful in the storm of depression. I can recognize the spiral as I am twirling downward. I see the walls as they begin to press in upon me. Even so, the fear and dread vaporize all the oxygen available and I hyperventilate in view of the beautiful, rich, full life I am blessed to lead. Knowledge is often useless in those times. Granting myself special things: favorite chocolate, a glass of wine, a walk alone — backfires. What would, under normal circumstances, bring great satisfaction fails to scratch the surface and I sink deeper.
Can I mention again, what I experience in my fight with depression is a mere skirmish in light of the battle others fight? So far, 2016 has held one week like this for me. It came in conjunction with some physical pain (primarily migraine related), and emotional pain for a friend experiencing trouble. My daily routines showcased my struggle and salvation. By the power of God through prayer (both my own and the intercession of friends) I walked through that week back into a life relatively free from depression’s grasp. My years of engaging depression have taught me how I can best deal with it, by continuing in the litany that is my joy and sharing the pain with a select few who can pray for me. No one combats depression the same way.
May those warriors in the midst of strife hear these words; Christ can overcome, and He longs to do so in your life – let Him. Seek help, accept medication, pray and fast. Know yourself, and know the Lord. If you are like me develop litanies — prayers/rituals to remind you of truth, even the very ordinary truth that each ordinary day is a blessing and every ordinary moment an opportunity to give glory to God. Peace be unto you.
"There was no month but May" is a line from George Herbert's poem Affliction. (I); I commend it to you.