Guess what. Well, it isn't much of a secret. But if you do think it's a secret, everyone is trying to hide the same one. And if you know it's not a secret, you may be spending a lot of time telling the world about your own isolated problems. Well, Surprise! At this point its more a fact- observable, obvious, and beautiful: We all have issues. and not ONE of them is unique. Sorry, my story is no more poetic or tragic than yours and vice versa. For years I suffered under a self imposed rule that I was too complicated to be understood. I had deep problems and woes that I clung to, and I would put them in my beautifully crafted journals, tuck them away on a shelf and no one would ever read them because they were mine. my own. my precious....
Woah. Ok getting away from the Gollum reference here, do you see what I mean? I went back a few months ago and looked through those journals and I was almost ill reading through the sappy language I reveled in, the boy in college I was in love with but who never knew, the hard break up I feared more than anything, the pain of feeling misunderstood as the pathetic black sheep of my family, the caged bird who only wanted to fly... just once above the clouds...to feel the wind on my wings..... UGH. you get it. Lord have mercy. But this was and is a part of my story. and we all have them. Of course individually we are all unique and you will never find two stories alike. Just like those solitary snowflakes I would doodle in my journaled past. But in that uniqueness, there we all are- together.
One of the chapters in my life (my real life- not the doodled one) is the day I admitted I needed help for depression. There you have it folks, a tortured artist. Now I'm not belittling my own aches, but Lord knows I've spent enough time indulging them and participating with the torment of anxiety and depression. This expression is an experiment in change- in being real and honest and very vulnerable with all 4 of you who read this blog. But as I am a verbal processor, its helping. Depression is a very real biochemical disorder. Whether it is the cause or the symptom is not medically understood, but the longer you stay there, the more damage is done. The brain acts with neurotransmitters to give information to the next neuron in line and when there is a lack of this one called serotonin, the information doesn't get processed down the pathway and there is this mess of jumbled feelings and thoughts that give rise to sadness, despair, paralysis of motivation, and just plain blahs. I found that I was extremely tearful and hard situations just were made harder by not being able to move forward. This was compounded by feeling isolated and that no one could understand so I didn't share these feelings with anyone and felt this pressure to just get over it on my own. Then my conflicting self would give great advice by telling me I was being stupid, and no one should suffer this much over one lost relationship, people go through this stuff all the time, there's something wrong with me if I can't move forward. Get. Over. It. And even if I had the thought years ago "Maybe I'm depressed" I couldn't be! I was a christian - and I thought a pretty spiritual one. I was covered by the Holy Spirit and christians don't get depressed. "I've got the joy joy joy joy down in my heart" remember? After years of off and on bouts with highs and lows of emotional turmoil (and more beautifully crafted journal entries) I was done. It took a few more precise blows to my heart and soul to render me down for the count, tapped out. I needed help. And that admission was just the beginning of yet another painful and long and awful process that I would have happily avoided by hiding in my isolation of black sheephood.
I don't think I need to go into the process, both medical and therapeutic, but I will say that I have still had my ups and downs and more recently found myself tearful again. In Peru I worked with disabled children that broke my heart on a daily basis, I came home and had to put my dog down which ripped open some very delicately healed wounds, I now work in a nursing home where a little old lady started crying during our session and just asked God to let her die. (which makes you feel like a really excellent physical therapist) And I cried. I live with a family of children who watch Disney movies and I had a good weep to the part in Tangled where Rapunzel's father sends off the lanterns hoping for his daughter's return. I hate when the news is on in people's rooms, I have to hear these horrible headlines in 5 seconds and with no time to process them and just keep on going. We live in a society where there is not time to grieve. There are 250 people who either died on that Malaysian plane or didn't but their poor families! I ache for them! The world assaults us with terrible things and what do we do with them? Some people are just going to keep moving forward, cold and calloused to the pain around them. Is it a product of my depression that causes me to cry or hurt for others? Am I "just too sensitive" like a dear friend once told me (and I won't let her live it down)? What is the answer here?
This week I was listening to this talk by Tim Keller called "The Cross, the way to endurance" and I might have glimpsed the answer: its Hope. In depression, I live in a sad sad world- with circumstances way beyond my control and too overwhelming to do anything about except maybe cry. and journal. In Christ, I still live in that world, I still will grieve and maybe glimpse what it means "to partake of the sufferings of Christ" but it is for the joy set before me that I can endure. That there is a hope of a just and righteous God making these horrible things right. He is the only reason I can get through a day, and that learned behavior of choosing hope and choosing joy is what will be my anchor, my way forward in the Lord. He is "one well acquainted with grief" and as much as I hate the ache and the pain that I know so well, its in this depth that I walk with my Lord. My Hope is in Him. I have several Morgul wounds (sorry for another LOTR reference) that may never fully heal, but in the process of walking with him, I remember His scars for us. Maybe this is what it means to boast in our weaknesses, because his strength in perfected in weakness. so when I am weak, then He is strong.
Now can we sing Maranatha? Come Lord Jesus, Come.
ps. I'm not the only one right? feel free to share this! Or if you have any stories or similar struggles I'd be so encouraged to hear them! please email me! firstname.lastname@example.org