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 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 1.3 – Searching for the Soul Doctor

God’s truths often arrive in strange packages.

Like the song by Foreigner I have been blasting on my truck’s stereo this past week.

It’s called Soul Doctor.

I need to see the soul doctor
Before the fever begins
You know I’m searching for the soul doctor
When love is wearing thin
Doctor soul is in.”

Depression is not simply something in the mind. It is also what the Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross described as “the dark night of the soul.”

So on hard days, I’m searching for a soul doctor.

Rather than crawling into a mental hole or pretending everything is okay, I am learning to pray and accept that I am never alone.

Jesus promised to never leave or forsake me. And often, after these dark nights of the soul, joy does come in the morning.

Which means I can hang a sign outside my heart that says, “Dr. Soul is in….”

Posted in Musings

Depression 1.2 – The Loudspeaker in my Head

I misspoke.

Elegiac is not always silent. Often I find that I have begun again to pay attention to its whisperings in my inner ear.

They are so subtle.

Yet the words resound loudly within, reverberating against Id’s fragility. They feed the loudspeaker of negativity in my head.

I am pretty hard on myself. I set impossibly high expectations and tumble to the inevitable crash when they are not reached. My mind cycles through the litany of what ifs.

I stand outside myself and critique my latest interaction. Did I mispeak? Why did I act like that? Why I am not where I think I should be?

I was not good enough.

I am never good enough.

I cannot let what happened simply be.

I have confused discontent with stagnancy.

I am not gentle with myself.

My dreams have become a weight upon my soul.

I am, as Langston described, a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.

Posted in Musings

Depression 1.1: The Creature on my Shoulder

I have always liked ravens.
Not because of a certain Poe-m or its iconic phrase.
It is not that.
I have admired their black bodies’ flashing hues, sparkling eyes, cackling conversations in the spinning trees above me as I step out into the clinging fabric of another day.

The one that sits on my shoulder is silent.
Even on good days, it is there, a shadow just on the edge of my vision.
I sense its weight, shifting ever so slightly when I move my heavy arms to the task at hand.

We are reluctant companions at best.
It could fly away I think, remove its talons from my clavicle and seek after some shiny thing.
What I mean is that it is not hindered by broken wings.
Somehow it has chosen me.

When you see me, you would not know.
I am generally social, of good humor, articulate.
This creature sitting next to my molasses head is not visible to you.
But if you come closer, perhaps you will catch just a glimpse out of the corner of your eye.
And in the days ahead, I will try to introduce you to my familiar.

Its name is Elegiac.

Posted in Prayers

I Am

I am the creature crying at 4am.

I am the sleeper who responds with grace.

I am the relief that comes with the release of waste.

I am the grateful lick I taste.

I am the watcher in the chair far away.

I am the room in a healing place.

I am the father who waits for the phone call.

I am he with hands for a face.

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

The Bloom

long ago
i reached
for a lovely
before me
a pollinator
and i
thinking of
life and
my hand
leaving the
to give
to many
more visitors
than i
in the time
and place
where it
so simply
and beautifully