So one of the reasons, the main reason, I haven’t been blogging is because I’ve been dealing with depression. Not just a few bad days, but full-blown-take-over-my-mind-and-my-life-depression.
If you haven’t done so, please take a moment to review another Allie’s informative and–I think–pretty spot on description of depression here.
Ok, done with that? It’s important.
The depression started with burnout at my last job. Then moved to sadness sadness sadness when I moved to Guatemala. Instead of excitement, I felt an overwhelming sense of grief–missing friends, missing community, missing meaningful work.
Then came the numbness. For some unexplainable reason I was no longer excited to speak Spanish or go salsa dancing or tutor women in reading and math–things I used to love and be so passionate about. I didn’t know why I’d rather stay inside and watch Netflix than explore the city and make new friends. I was living the dream, but it felt like I was frozen in a nightmare.
I thought I was just taking a long time to bounce back from the burnout. I thought I had a really bad case of homesickness. I thought I wasn’t adjusting well, was bad at making friends, was lazy. I thought I was a failure.
I didn’t realize it was also my brain chemistry working really hard against me.
I was really sad for a really long time and nothing seemed to make it better. Since I’ve been back, the intensity of the sadness has lessened. I like being around my friends here. I like the beach. I’m not lonely anymore.
But I still don’t feel like me. Like Allie described, I feel pretty numb (which I must admit feels better than sad). Or, more accurately, I don’t really feel anything. Just a lethargy, a void. But the worst worst worst part of depression for me, an introvert, a writer, a person who has Intellection in her Top Five Strengths, isn’t the emotional numbness, but the mental numbness. A fog. A grogginess. Like someone keeps dosing my morning coffee with Nyquil.
It’s made life pretty sucky and unexciting. And it’s made writing almost unbearable. It’s like this. Let’s say writing were a physical activity, not just a mental one. For instance, running. Writing a blog post or a grant proposal would be like running a mile. I used to do it no problem. I was born to run. I lived for the runner’s high. I didn’t mind the shin splints or the side aches. The feeling of wind in and out of my lungs as I rounded the track was unmatched.
Then I got sick. I’m not sure if it was overtraining or not cross training enough or a nasty virus just happened to pick me. I don’t know if I’ll ever know what or why this happened. But suddenly it just felt wrong. Like trying to run a mile with the flu. You can probably do it, but it feels crappy and your legs don’t work quite right and you want to just lay on the sidelines and puke or fall asleep instead.
Unlike the flu, with depression you can look alright from the outside. Everyone kept telling me to keep running. You’re so talented, they said. You can still do it. You just have to keep training and it will work out.
I got to the point where I had to decide that I just couldn’t do it anymore. I knew for me, I couldn’t. I can’t. I feel sick. I feel like my brain has been taken over by poison or a sedative, like I’m running through molasses. It’s not fun anymore.
I’ve spent the time since I got back to the States trying to figure this out. I took a hard break from writing–hence my blogging absence. I’m seeing doctors. I’m trying different prescriptions, different therapies. I’m trying to get this under control. I have an incredible community who cares for me and supports me and has been with me every step of the way. A group of amazing women who say, “we don’t understand this sickness, but we love you anyways and we’re here to help.” They show me grace, grace, grace.
The grace I’ve had so much trouble extending to myself.
I’ve been terrified that this is the new me. That I’ll be stuck in this brain dead land forever. That I’ll never be passionate about anything again. That I may never write again.
I’ve made a lot of bad choices. Trying to feel again or numb again or distract from the numbness.
I’ve been stuck in fear. Stuck living for the hell of it. I’ve no longer felt like life matters, so I’ve lived like it doesn’t matter.
I keep praying, God, if you heal me of depression. If you give me my life back, my brain back, my joy back, I will praise your name you to all the ends of the earth. I will glorify you. I will use my life and my brain and my joy to serve you. See how much good I did while working at Plant With Purpose. Serving at church. Writing on this blog. I’ll do that again if you heal me.
To which he replied (and continues to reply), “Serve me now.”
I reel. How is this the best option? How is this good for anyone? Why wouldn’t He want to heal me of depression? To give me life and life to the full?
To which he doesn’t answer. He just repeats. “Serve me now.”
He says, “I love you whether or not you have depression. Whether or not you write. Whether or not you make wise choices. Whether or not you feel like you’re in control.
It’s your turn to trust me whether you are depressed or not. Whether you write or not. Whether you make wise choices or not. Whether or not you feel like you’re in control.
Because you’re never really in control, no matter how you feel about it. I am. And I love you. And I am good.”
My pastor gave a sermon awhile back on wrestling with God. On the importance of honesty. He said that’s it’s ok to be honest with God about our disappointments. And the truth is. I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed that living in Guatemala felt so lonely. I’m disappointed that I haven’t yet found a job back here in the States. I’m disappointed that it’s all been so hard. I’m disappointed that depression stole what should have been the best year, the best adventure, of my life. I’m disappointed in myself and in my circumstances.
It’s okay to be honest with God. He knows my disappointment. He can take it. He can take my pain and my anger. He hurts with me.
In the sermon, my pastor emphasized that RADICAL TRUST IN GOD ALWAYS PAYS OFF.
Not that our prayers will always be answered. Not that my depression will be cured and this mental fog will be lifted.
But God is good and He loves us. He’s the only one worth trusting in.
So ever so reluctantly, I’m shifting my focus. I’m switching my prayers. I’m surrendering to the God of Love that I’ve failed to trust in for so long.
Today I will say,
I surrender to you, O God. I will trust in your Love. I will hope in your Love. Even if my depression never lifts. Even if I never get my brain or my life or my identity as a thinker/writer/processer back.
I am Yours.
So I don’t I know if I’ll keep up blogging. I don’t know if writing will get easier. If depression will become a dark spot in my past or something I’ll deal with forever. I just wanted to share this with you. To explain a little about where I’ve been and where I hope to be going. Thanks for listening.