March 13, 2007

A Bit More Serious

When I started this blog last summer I wanted it to be a place where I could dump out all the thoughts filling up my head and process them in an orderly manner. I have friends and family that I talk with regularly about everyday life but there is so much more going on in my mind that had no outlet. To whom do I turn when I fall in love with a book? Who wants to listen when I get excited about the history that I've learned in the process of teaching my own children. And even when I did try to force my observations and passions on unwilling or unsuspecting standers-by it always came out jumbled. No one could understand me because I didn't make any sense. Not only were my friends and acquaintances unhappy(more like bored) in these encounters but so was I.

Since I have started this blog I have found I can articulate myself with more clarity. I have come to a greater understanding of myself. And others understand me better as well. I have found a friend at church who shares my passion for Victorian literature. She had put this love aside when she had children. But since I have become more comfortable with myself and not afraid of sharing my joys this friend makes a point of talking with me each Sunday to discuss that book she read the previous week. We have become a mutual encouragement to each other in our reading. This was an unanticipated blessing.

I have something else that really must be brought out into the light of day and examined from all angles. Depression. I have struggled with depression for all of my adult life. There. It's out. I have been reluctant to share this struggle up to now. Who wants to hear about a grown woman who can't deal with her own life? Doesn't my audience(all 5 of them) have enough of its own stresses to deal with without sifting through mine too? Yes. But this blog is first and foremost a place where I come to process. And maybe someone out there will appreciate my struggle with something truly debilitating.

Depression has been the disease of the masses for many years now. In some circles it's almost trendy to be on a certain name brand anti-depressant or to brag about one's therapist. It's never been that for me. I am not interested in popping a pill to make me happy with my empty life. What depression has been for me is a little devil that follows me around, waiting to jump on my back and devour my peace. Peace of mind and peace of soul. Sometimes it starts with something real and tangible in life. When two family members died within a week of each other I became depressed. That seems only natural. But what about when I am happy one day and the next I just can't stop crying, for no reason. I tell myself I have nothing to be sad about. "Get over it. Kiss your kids Petunia. Call your best friend and just appreciate how blessed you are."

But it is so much more than just a sadness. It is a pain in the heart. It is the strongest of feelings, both physically and emotionally. It railroads any other thought or feeling that you try to throw at it. It's not born of selfishness, as I've heard many a thoughtless person reason. A person struggling with depression does not want to feel this way. We long to be happy, or, if not that then at least indifferent. We desire to be productive and serve our sphere in life.

For a long time I felt that it was a contradiction to be a christian and depressed. The gospel should fill the heart with so much gratitude and adoration that there is no room for discontent. How can I be dissatisfied with my lot in life when I have been given forgiveness in Christ? Well, it's not a contradiction. Being a follower of Jesus doesn't mean I am humming a happy tune as I gladly perform my many tasks. Sure, I would love to do that, and I often do. It's just that some days, for whatever reason, I can no longer think of anything but the sorrow. When a person has agonizing back pain, no one sticks their nose in the air as they snuff out, "How can you sit there crying when you have been granted salvation? You ought to be happy." My pain is just as real. It stops me in my tracks just as effectively as a strained back.

I suffer from depression. I don't know why. I am not complaining about it right now, though I do sometimes. I am simply working it out as best as I can. I am acknowledging it and figuring out exactly what I think about it. This is my therapy. This is me trying to gain back my peace of mind.


Anonymous said...

Me too. I just want to fix it. Nothing works! My only consolation is that I know it goes away. But I also know that it comes back. I'm losing all the people I love because of it. It hurts so much, the pain wracks my body.

Petunia said...

Anonymous-I wish I could write back to you and let you know that I have made some real progress lately. I was diagnosed with a mild form of bipolar and am now on a medication that helps alot. The pain of depression seems unbearable at times. I can rob you of more than just your peace of mind. Please let me be an encouragement to you. Hang in there.