Monday, April 8, 2013

Living Psalm 88: A re-post from 1/23/12

I'm living Psalm 88 today.  No other explanation could paint a clearer picture of the depths of depression that I find myself in. Read Psalm 88. Psalm 88 is a Psalm of lament. It's a picture of despair that seems to have no end or resolution. At the time of his writing, the Psalmist knows nothing but sorrow and is consumed by overwhelming grief. It's the only Psalm that apparently does not end with some kind of resolution between God and man. It ends as it starts, with the Psalmist engulfed in utter desperation and lacking of any hope. No light bulb goes on. No rainbow springs up in the distance to lift his spirits just a bit. No ray of light to illuminate the darkness. Silence. He turns to God in his pain, in hopes of an answer for the dark state that he find himself in. Silence. God doesn't reveal a nugget of theological truth that causes him to break out in songs of praise and thanksgiving. There is no reason for his pain. No explanation for the silence from God. No answer for the perpetual anguish that the he finds himself in. No hope. This is what depression feels like. 

Depression is very heavy on me today. I live with depression. Not as much as I did many years ago, but I still struggle with depression from time to time. That time is now. It always comes back with a vengeance. Depression sucks. I have no inspiration to write today and motivation is non-existent. I'm writing this in the hopes of you extending me grace. My mind is consumed with a fog that is going to prevent clarity and attention to grammar. That is one of the side effects of depression. The fog consumes, thick with confusion. I'm currently unable to keep a coherent thought within my mind. It would be a nightmare to have a cup of coffee right now. So please forgive me if this is not a literary masterpiece. My minds races with dozens of thoughts that are overwhelming me, and yet I can't focus any single topic. 

It seems that a lot more people have been seeking to know what depression is all about these days More people who don't deal with depression are seeming to be asking more questions and trying to understand how this disease effects others. Maybe more people are dealing with depression in those close to them. Maybe it's just becoming more common. Maybe the stigma is waning a bit and the discussions are opening up. Recently someone asked me to describe what depression is like. What better time to describe the pit than when you find yourself at the very bottom of it, right? I usually don't share this side of me. Usually I just isolate myself. You won't hear from me for a while. My blog will not be updated and I'll draw inward. But here it is. Full color. High def. No editing.       

I didn't sleep well lst night. Most of the night was filled with nightmares and dark dreams I woke up this mourning at the end of a particularly eerie dream. You know the kind that leaves you feeling icky the next day? Nothing really specific about the dream seems to reveal anything to me. The setting was just dark, funky and gloomy. That feeling seemed to have attached itself to me when I awoke. It's been stuck on me, clouding everything I've attempted to do today. Yeah, I've put on a smiley face and tried to "fake it until I can make it", (I hate that expression. No doubt invented by some chipper motivational soul who means well, has no comprehension of what it's like to experience depression for even one day). Was it the same one who coined the phrase "Too blessed to be depressed"?  That makes me nauseous.

Depression is unmoving. It just sits there, like oil stuck to the sides of and old steel drum. Water just beads off of it. I could scrape it out, but it would just make a bigger mess, and I've convinced myself to just deal with it. As always. You've mourned the death of someone close to you, right? Remember that feeling? That's depression. No, I'm not being melodramatic or exaggerating. That's what it feels like, but with no explanation to it's cause. Mourning for no one. Nothing. Just mourning.         

Anxiety and panic usually begin to set in when I'm in the depths of depression. I feel the urge to run. I feel the urge to drive somewhere, but have no destination. It's like running or driving down a tunnel that has no end in sight. You can't see anything from the right or left and all you can hear is a deep droning sound. My ears are ringing, even as I type this and my heart is racing just a bit more. All I can think about is what others think of me. How apparently incapable I am to function at full capacity. I beat myself up, and any previous victories that I've had quickly become failures in my mind. I discredit anything I've accomplished and assume that I've just fooled myself through my entire life up to this point, as well as everyone else. I'm not a writer. I'm not a minister. I'm not a good husband and I've failed as a father. I know. In reality, none of this is true. But in the midst of depression, it's extremely difficult to see anything else. Reality is twisted and distorted. Warped. You wonder who this person is as you gaze in the mirror. I wonder who this is typing these words.

Another companion emotion of depression is anger. Anger comes in waves and in many ways more welcome than depression. Anger feels more controllable and more powerful. Depression just makes you feel weak and out of control. I often get angry with God, and today is no different. I feel like smashing my fists through a wall, in hopes that He'll see how much I hurt. As if God needs a physical demonstration. I walked this morning, feeling isolated and alone. Almost an hour I walked with my dog Dexter. He pants. I pray. I talk out loud and sometimes raise my voice at God. People must think I'm mentally ill, and maybe I am. I just wish that one of them would stop me an ask what's wrong. Do you ever just long for someone to put their hand on your shoulder and say, "It's OK."? Never underestimate the power of the human touch, especially when you feel nothing. I feel cold and completely alone. The clicks of Dexter's nails on the concrete remind me of a clock. The seconds ticking by, reminding me that times stands still while in the depths of depression.   

Recently, I told God that I hated Him. Not because of who He is, or what He's done in my life, but because of what He seems to have not done. I assume that God can handle me saying that. Teenagers often tell their parents that they hate them, right? They come back and apologize and mom and dad know they don't mean it. I told God that I didn't mean it. He knows. But I felt it. I wanted Him to hurt like I'm hurting. Maybe I feel hatred toward God because I feel hatred toward myself. What is self-love? How are you supposed to love yourself when all you want to do is flee from the person you've become? It's a paradox.   

This morning I read the words of Psalm 88. I'm living Psalm 88.But in the midst of depression, I hold onto faith. Faith in a God that has pulled me out of deeper pits. Although I feel life ebbing away, I know that it will be restored just as quickly as it's slipped away from me. I take solace in knowing that things have been much worse and I survived. Like the Psalmist, I'll continue to call on the Lord "every day" and keep bringing my petitions before Him. I'll shake my fists at my Maker and raise my voice to Him. But I trust Him. I know that joy will come again, because I've tasted it before. I've reveled in it. Possibly, that's why the depths of depression hit me so hard. When you've tasted the goodness of God, and been taken to higher planes of living, the distance back down is even further. We fall, but rise again. I will. I always do.           

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