Posted in Musings

Depression 1.13 – The 8 Slash 6 Cylinder Man

I have come to the conclusion that I fire on six cylinders.

The issue is that I am an eight cylinder man.

I can’t remember the last time I was firing on all of them.

They aren’t knocking yet, but it’s just a matter of time. There’s a lot of miles, hard ones, on the odometer.

It’s a wonder six are still firing. It makes it rather miraculous that I can make it through the day, let alone accomplish anything.

It seems I am pulling off on the side of the road to doze more often now. My mind knows where to go. I am just so tired and it takes so much fuel to figure out how to get there.

Others race by. Their exhaust exhausts me. Death is the end to this race. Why try to get there quicker?

Elegiac grips me until my mind spins.

Lethargy holds me down.

I am captured between the two, racing, yet going nowhere.

I am a six cylinder body with an eight cylinder mind.

Come close and you will catch the faint scent of burnt oil.

Posted in Musings

Depression 1.12 – One Stroke at a Time

It is not that I have nothing to do or that I don’t have the time to do it.

It is that I don’t have the energy to do whatever it is I can or need to do.

My mind continues to swirl with a myriad of creative ideas. I know what I could be doing. I struggle to rise up from the depths.

Lethargy holds me down. I can only move against the weight of these two, which seems to increase the burden. I swim through a frozen sea, one clutching hand in front of the other.

I am learning to let go of the big picture, to take things one stroke at a time.

I place a piece of wood inlay there.

I write a word, sentence, paragraph, page here.

Suddenly, the craft is complete, the story written.

And for the briefest of moments, my dark-winged companions are lost in the pulsing waves behind me.

Posted in Musings

Depression 1.11 – The Gift of Brokenness

The gift of depression is compassion. I look in the mirror everyday and know that I am broken.

Elegiac tells me that I should stay there, captured by this narcissistic reflection.

Yet to do so is to miss the truth that I see through a glass dimly, that “now I only see in part, then I will see in full.”

And that often my reflection as seen through the lens of depression is not how God sees me.

Knowing that I am broken can incapacitate me.

Or it can serve as the humble catalyst for me to show grace and mercy, compassion and gentleness, and above all, patience, to others.

Tonight, I will serve a meal to women whose lives have been upended in ways that leave me breathless. They are broken like me. Yet they are strong, so strong.

They are always gracious, kind, and encouraging and I always leave feeling like I have received more than I have given.

And for the briefest of moments, I do not feel the weight of Elegiac and Lethargy, my everpresent twins, upon my shoulders.

Posted in Musings

Depression 1.10 – The Other Is Lethargy

I mourn the loss of the moments of lucidity.

When the words run like liquid gold. When joy envelopes me. When clarity ceases to be a mystery.

Then Elegiac spreads its wings and my vision falls once again into the shadows.

What I saw disappears and I am left wandering through the rest of the day stumbling like a blind man after elusive Braille.

I am so tired. Yet I cannot let go of what I thought I glimpsed beyond the veil.

Another winged companion joins Elegiac. It alights upon my other shoulder, a weight so heavy and cold that it seeps into the very marrow of my bones.

Its name is Lethargy.

Posted in Musings

Depression 1.9 – Swimming in Inadequate Sea

Part of the struggle is listening through the noise, the endless chattering of Elegiac and its kin.

The negative carries more weight than the positive. Criticism is easier to believe, to receive, over affirmation. My mind cycles through blow upon blow, Elegiac’s incessant pecking at my neck.

Elegiac likes to remind me of my inadequacies. Social Media plays on those with its endless notifications.

Did you post yet? Your friends haven’t heard from you in awhile.

Notifications remind me of what I am not getting done. Look at me. Click here. Go there.

So I have begun to remove myself from the sticky strands of the world wide web. I am scattered all over the place. Is it any wonder I do not feel whole? I have rediscovered the power of the delete button, the unsubscribe link, the cancel subscription choice.

I did not choose to have depression, but I do have a choice about what I will pay attention to. What I will participate in. Who or what I will follow. Where I will invest my life.

To ask the question, does this give me life?

Simply put, if something brings me down, bums me out, depresses me, enrages me, makes me feel inadequate, I must have the wherewithal to notice and then (newsflash!) stop doing it, listening to it, reading it, click, click, clicking on it!!

The constant clicking is what Elegiac would want me to do.

Yet I must resist.

I do not wish to desert the Master, to be led astray nip by subtle nip by distractions.

Can I honestly say each and every day as Simon Peter did,

“Lord, to whom would (I) go? Only You have the words of eternal life.”

Posted in Musings

Depression 1.8 – The Lie of Being Alone

Elegiac is a liar.

It tells me that it should be my only companion.

That I am alone.

Even in the midst of friends or in the arms of my lover, I am the hollow man. There is no warm heart beating inside my bone chested cage.

I exist in the land of numb.

How quickly the lie of being alone is compounded by other untruths until I am spinning, sliding down the slippery slope, in tune to the grinding chuckling of this wraith at my ear.

It whispers that I am the only one who is broken.

That there are no other hands to hold me or feet to walk with me.

That God does not know me.

That I am not fearfully and wonderfully made.

Until I shut my ears to the mocking beak, look up from myself, and find that I am surrounded by love.

Posted in Prayers

Depression 1.7 – I. Write. Pray. Heal.

(From February 24, 2016)

It was not too long ago when I stood on the precipice and caught a glimpse of the pit far below.

What I saw was me, yet it was a me distorted by a mind sick with depression. As that vision threatened to reach up and cast me down, I stepped back from the brink into the healing embrace of medication, a renewed sense of God’s love and the care of God’s people, and to a deeper commitment to prayerful writing.

The discipline of daily contemplative reflections from my interactions with the world around me has become a life line for me.

This place where we reside is not without its sadness. But such does not need to discount the inevitable joys. Depression skews the view towards the melancholy.

I am broken. So are you. That acknowledgement does not preclude our healing. We do ourselves and others a disservice when we are less than honest with our pain. But that is not the end of the story.

There is healing. Or at least a coming to terms with our existence. Joy indeed comes in the morning. And that morning comes with each new day we are privileged to see another sunrise.

So I continue in this daily discipline of prayer/writing. Each morning, I turn my face to the east and await the healing words that come with the sun.

Posted in Musings

Depression 1.5 – The Sweet Taste of a Jagged Little Pill

(From July 2, 2008)

Today I walked out of the doctor’s office with a piece of paper that may change my life.

I actually set up an appointment because I found a tick on me and was worried I might have Lyme’s Disease. I had just moved so I needed a new doctor too.

I also needed to be honest about my depression.

I am sensitive, but now almost anything can make me cry.

I’ve struggled with self-esteem, but it’s always been with a healthy dose of humor and love. Lately, the balance has disappeared. I don’t want to be around very many people including myself.

I’ve always had a melancholy streak, but now it seems all I think about is death. I read the obituaries in the Post every morning as if to divine some clue as to the meaning of life.

I am in a wonderful marriage, but the strain of my constant complaining and “down” states on our relationship hasn’t helped me feel any better. What we have is too precious to stay the way I am.

I am tired of feeling guilty about everything. Including feeling guilty.

I have been talking about this for months with friends and family, many who have experienced depression and gotten help. I’ve thought about it for years, tried a few things. But I never took the big step.

So today I sat on the edge of the strange couch contraption that doctor offices have, looked down at the doc, and I came clean.

The doc asked me some questions. “Yeah, you’re depressed,” he concluded.

I really liked him. He didn’t overhype it nor did he play it down. He was relaxed but serious. He said that most folks don’t understand that the brain is an organ just like every other organ in the body. It’s just the one that makes all of the others run. It has chemicals that communicate with each other to make it work well. Sometimes the chemicals get out of whack and they need a little something to get them back on track.

He said I was past the first hump because I was over the stigma of trying medication.

It took awhile, but yeah, I am.

After he left the room, I had a hard time not crying. It is a relief to finally seek and receive help. Whether it “does” something or not, I feel as if a big weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.

The pharmacy said it would be ready in 45 minutes so I went to Popeye’s and got some chicken to celebrate.

My wife was thrilled at the news. As we ate our New Orleans-style supper and sipped our Strawberry Fantas, she asked me how I felt.

“Real good,” I said with a smile. “Real good.”

And you know something, for the first time in a long time, it was true.

Posted in Musings

Depression 1.4 – An Unkindness of Ravens

I do not begrudge those who have been healed.

I too attempted the natural way.

I too prayed.

I did (and do) so every day.

I tried to shoo Elegiac away. It simply returned with more of its kin. They gathered along my shoulders and the length of my arms, an overwhelming unkindness of ravens.

Suddenly, they had flown away with me until I hung like a broken marionette, dangling over the abyss.

Suspended, staring down, it was not something I wished to ever see again.

It was then I realized that sometimes healing comes in the shape of a jagged little pill.