I knew something was wrong about a month ago. Those who suffer from depression know what it’s like. I got an email from a friend and I thought, “How nice, I should email him back.” But in the dark recesses of my mind, I knew I wouldn’t. And I knew it would be a long time before I did.
I’m a night owl. I like staying up until 11:00 or 1:00. And since my job is a second shift job, I like to sleep in until about 10:00 am. But then it started happening. I’d wake up at 1:00 pm. 2:00 pm.
Then the bad stuff. I had no sense of purpose. No sense of belonging. That feeling that if I didn’t exist, no one would notice.
Then the extracurriculars. Heart surgery. Two and a half weeks off without a break. Two separate illnesses. Conflict at work.Conflict with people. Conflict with people you really care about who don’t seem to understand your situation.
If you’ve suffered from anxiety and depression, you know what comes next. You don’t blame the cosmic forces, you blame yourself. It’s all your fault. “Ray, you are such a pathetic piece of garbage. Five years ago you could have kept up with this pace, but now you can’t. You’ve missed time with your family, time at work, and important time with other people because your body is weak. And all of a sudden, you’re slipping into a cycle of depression? Why would anyone want to have something to do with you?”
Depression is a crushing thing. I’ve read a lot about it. I don’t know if it’s chemical, emotional, spiritual, or something that requires a straight jacket. Bible scholars tell us that Elijah suffered from it. Even Saul. Maybe David. My mother suffered from it terribly at times. I watched her deal with it. She would weep for hours on end. She prayed to God over the things she needed to be doing and also the wretch she felt herself to be.
One of the worst things about depression is that you procrastinate. I find that a lot of people who deal with depression are people who are high achievers. Statistics tell us that 60% of pastors suffer from depression and are medicated. I’ve been on a lot of drugs. Zoloft, Paxil. Adivan, Lexapro, Prozac, Wellbutrin, and whatever. Some pastors will tell you that taking medication for depression is a lack of faith.
If that’s the case, I am in trouble.
I’ve been treated for a condition called “hypomania” for the past seven years. It dabbles in the realm of depression, stress and anxiety. Some theologians will tell you that all such nervous disorders are of the devil. They are to be fought against with prayer and vigilance. As a man of the medical field, I will tell you that the occasional pill helps.
For the past three weeks, my depression has hounded me. It has weighed upon me like a semi filled with over ripe oranges. It hurts. It has made we weep. It has made me question my place in the universe. It has made me wonder if anyone loves me. It has made me wonder if God loves me..
Tonight, I called my Aunt Cindy. Aunt Cindy is the voice of reason in this world. We all have one. She is the Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. She is the Obi Wan in Star Wars. She is Sam in Casablanca. She has this amazing ability to just, “listen.”
When I was done, I knew what I had to do to start restoring my soul. I had three emails from fallen pastors/wives that I had been ignoring for two weeks. I responded to them with grace and mercy. I wanted them to know that despite their sin, they were amazing people who Christ loved. Whether they were sinned against or were the sinner, we are all deserving of the love of Christ.
When I was done, my depression started to lift. Slightly. It had been an unwelcome friend, but a familiar one. Reaching out to others who had the same problems reminded me that I had nothing to complain about. My struggles were over. Theirs were just beginning.
I pray that my perspective on life will always be right. That I will value the view of others over mine. Many people suffer more than me. I have suffered, but the best thing I can do now is help those who are in the same position I once was.