It’s been a while since I’ve been depressed. I’ve realised it because this week there have been a few howls from the black dog. Not full-blown unplug everything, switch off the lights and give up – but a couple of tentative rumblings. Some warning lights on the dashboard.
A little more tiredness. Day-time ‘naps’ that stretch into evening. Irritability. (‘Will you stop making that annoying breathing noise!’) Not quite seeing the point in things. Finding it difficult to connect with other people. Wanting to withdraw, you know, just a little. Some me-time on an island with no-one else. Finding myself searching for ‘the thing’ that will make me feel better. A guava. A walk on the sea-front. A new book. Some shoes. A holiday. Morphine for the gnawing discontent.
There’s that slightly sick, panicky feeling of, ‘is this it? Is it coming back?’ The sound of little claws scratching at the back door. Well, I’m not listening.
Perhaps I’ll turn up the TV. Ward off the beast with some lists and the dust buster. Pretend it’s not happening and power on. That’s worked a treat in the past. Then, when I’ve burnt out I’ll have earned the right to give up completely. Back to bed with some wine gums and an emergency stash of tabloid gossip.
Or – .
Instead of shutting down, I could reach out. Instead of either driving myself into the ground with jobs or retreating to bed, I could take a look at my schedule. Make sure I’ve got some useful routines, the usual stuff in place – like food and sleep and exercise and routine and time off. Recognise too, that this is not a circumstantial thing and that no shoes (no matter how fab) are going to change that.
I could go to the GP. If the GP scares me, I can ask a friend to come. If my GP is unsympathetic, I can find another one.
If I’m on medication and it’s not working I can change to something else. If I think counselling might help, I can sign up. If I can’t face cooking or cleaning I can ask friends to help. Or buy ready meals. Just for a bit.
Without beating myself around the head with the guilt stick or signing up to build an orphanage when I can’t get out of bed, I could still change my focus. I can think about other people. I can pray for a friend or someone I know is hurting. I can remember that I’m not on my own.
Instead of handling it alone, I could pray about it and ask others to pray for me too. I can tell God if I’m angry or upset or confused. I can listen to Johnny Cash reading my favourite bits of the Bible aloud. I can give up on the Bible reading plan for a few days and wallow in my favourite passages or verse.
Instead of getting stressed and tired and trying to control everything and everyone, I can admit I don’t have the answers. That it’s okay to have bad days and bad weeks and hmmmm.. (step at a time girlfriend), whatever comes. I can bring to mind the ways in which the Lord has already been working in my life and ask Him to help me keep going and keep trusting even when it’s really hard. When I can’t do this for myself, I can ask my friends to remind me.
I can recognise that Jesus has still got me, even if I don’t feel like I’ve got him.
And I can keep trusting in the hope that is real – especially when I don’t feel it.