06 January 2016


Depression.  It's almost impossible to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it.  I see it as a cloud, or a sometimes a wave.  I have a friend who calls it "the black dog" - it hounds you and leaps up on you with no warning.  Depression is difficult to fight because it isn't related to circumstances; though circumstances do exacerbate the heavy weight - so in the black dog analogy, it's bad enough that it leaps up, but it knocks you down and sits on you, too, and then it's super hard to get back up!

I am chased by the cloud fairly often.  I struggle to remember to be kind to myself when I lose the race.  I look at my life and berate myself, because honestly, I have nothing to be sad about.  I have a kind, funny, gracious, loving husband.  I have two really good kids.  We make ends meet with some to spare for going out to eat or to the movies.  I have friends who have seen me through hard things, seen the ugly parts of me, and wonder of wonders, still hang around.  I am relatively healthy and able to be active.  I am wholly loved by my Jesus.  I have much to celebrate! 

For me, depression opens up to overwhelm.  I can look at all the good things and in my head, acknowledge that I am blessed, but still be overcome with deep, inexpressible sadness.  When I am in that place, everything looms large.  It's a huge effort to lift my arms to wash my hair in the shower...even peeling myself up to get into the shower!  Going to work to face 15-20 sweet faces and excited voices for even a minute, never mind 8 hours, feels insurmountable.  Taking down Christmas lights...oh why, why, why do I put them up??  I look around at my house through these dark, depression glasses and I am so overwhelmed by all the "undone" that paralysis sets in and I do nothing at all.  I know getting out for a run would be good for me, but it's cold and my body I stay inside.  

It is really hard to actively pursue thankfulness when you're fleeing the cloud, but it's occurred to me that maybe as I run from depression, I need to run toward something else.  So rather than flagellate myself with the good things in my life, I have tried instead to look for simple, easy things that poke holes in the cloud to let brightness stream in:

we have had a very mild winter so far this year.  However, temperatures have recently dropped to a more normal range for where I live.  This could be a circumstance that adds to the weight of depression for me, but this morning I pulled on my red Canada hat that has strings and pompoms, and my Christmas-new Canada mittens...and I saw a little pinpoint of light poke through, and my heart was almost imperceptibly lighter. 

 Overwhelm still threatens; I could turn away from this life-giving ray, back to the anxiety-producing circumstances, but I choose to stay focused on this one point.  Maybe with enough punctures, then in the brightness, the circumstances won't give way to overwhelm and for one more day, I'll come out ahead of the cloud.

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