Monthly Archives: May 2014

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

depression(Image from izthemonsterindsideme.blogspot.com)

 

It seemed to come out of nowhere this time.

I came back from Ohio exhausted, and the exhaustion never went away. I didn’t feel well physically, either. I didn’t want to get out of bed or do anything. I canceled most of my appointments and stayed inside with the blinds closed. I ordered pizza and Chinese food and watched Netflix. And didn’t take my meds.

And told no one.

Where was God? He was right here with me. I just ignored Him.

By the time Thursday evening came around and I was sitting on Margi’s couch, all I could do was cry. I finally told someone how bad it had gotten. And being the fine spiritual director she is, she didn’t try to fix anything. She did, however, begin to name all of the things I’ve been dealing with over the past month. I’d not put it all together…how could I when the black fog was surrounding me so tightly?

This was such a vivid example of why we need one another. Why we need community. When we can’t see our forest for the trees, someone else can. And Margi was able to show me some of the trees that were blocking me from seeing the forest.

It didn’t make the depression go away, but it normalized it for me. Helped me understand why my system was shutting down. One thing I have learned over the years — my brain can only handle so much. When there’s a lot going on, lots of transitions, lots of emotional intensity and lots of processing to do, I get overwhelmed, and more easily than most. Meds help. A LOT. But when I’m in the pit of emotional and physical exhaustion/depression it’s too easy to stop taking the meds. After all, the thought of opening a can of beans was overwhelming; so much easier to order food via the laptop. (Too bad Cymbalta isn’t offered as a pizza topping.)

If you’ve never been depressed, this will make no sense. I understand.

Of course, my left brain knew what to do: I needed to go outside. I needed to take a walk. I needed to take a shower. I needed to take my meds and my vitamins. I needed to turn off the TV. I needed to eat veggies and fruits and beans. I needed to talk to God and lament and process. I needed to get out my gratitude journal and count gifts, even the hard ones. I needed to set my mind on things above. And when I realized I wasn’t able to do any of this?

I needed to ASK FOR HELP. (“M’aidez, m’aidez!”)

Lesson learned. (I hope.)

It took a few days to start feeling better. Getting outside helped. Going to the ocean helped. Going to church and worshiping helped. Finally telling my husband and my pastor that I’d been depressed helped. Talking with Anne (my therapist) yesterday helped a lot. Getting Cymbalta back in my system probably helped the most. And eating healthy yesterday made a difference, I’m sure.

Speaking of yesterday…I turned a corner, but it was a slog. After seeing Anne and my chiropractor, I didn’t come home and stare at entertainment. I managed to get a lot done even though I felt like I was trudging through oatmeal all day. But that’s OK. I committed to moving slowly and taking the day one breath at a time. I wrote in my gratitude journal for the first time in over a week and that felt good. I made healthy meals. I met with one of my directees and we had a fantastic session. And I had a good night’s sleep. Something definitely shifted.

Today feels much better. Making a smoothie for breakfast wasn’t overwhelming. I’m not canceling appointments. I’m looking forward to going outside.  I’m eager to talk to some friends. Another corner has been turned.

All I can do is offer a broken Hallelujah of praise.

If any of you are suffering with depression of any kind — chronic or acute, mild or severe — please ask for help.

And know you are not alone.

 

 

 

 

 

Ordinary Time?

liturgical_calendar

(image from voiceofthesouthwest.org)

Technically, it’s still the Easter season, but life has been feeling kind of ordinary.

I returned a few days ago from a ten-day trip, exhausted and bleary-eyed. The three-hour time difference is always a hard adjustment for me, especially on the return. I came home and the Lenten wreath with all of its candles was still on the table; I didn’t have the heart or energy to put it away. But every day since I’ve been home it’s been a reminder that the Lenten journey and the glorious celebration of Easter is OVER for this year. Like a Christmas tree still up in mid-January, the wreath on the table had become a bit of an eyesore; its meaning used up for the year.

That is, until I picked it up.

After gathering all of the candles, I lifted the wreath off the table and felt the smooth wood in my hands. I noticed some wax had hardened on the surface; as I scraped it off, the memories of those days in March and April came flooding back. I loved the beauty and simplicity of lighting one candle each day, and moving the carved figure of Jesus carrying His cross around the wreath.

I started to think about the journeys of descent and ascent…how we are always on a journey toward death or resurrection, often at the same time. Things in our life are either dying or rising. Dreams are coming true or ending. Transitions are around the corner and change is a-coming.

It’s inescapable.

I needed the reminder that there really isn’t such a thing as “ordinary” time. Each day holds the possibility of being quite extraordinary, especially if I purpose to stay awake and aware of God’s presence and movement in my life. Even though the days are moving away from the “official” Lent and Easter seasons, I can keep them in my heart by living fully present to both the Cross and Resurrection.

May that become ordinary for the rest of my days!!