I have been struggling with depression this year. The reason I mention it "out loud" is just sheer desperation. There are so many days when I don’t want to get out of bed and once I do get up, I count the hours until I can go back to bed. Many days I wake up feeling almost as tired as when I went to bed. Most days I am filled with a dull ache; melancholy and hopelessness ruin times that should be good. It is difficult to muster any excitement about anything. Truth be told I am tired of mustering and posturing. I don’t want to wear the Mrs. Potato head smile anymore. I want to put on the angry eyes and the sad mouth and be done with it. Instead, I just sit there wishing the world would come to a screeching halt like when God sent the flood and destroyed all life on earth. And I don’t want to be Noah, the flood survivor. Have you read that story recently? Noah and his family sat on that smelly boat for an entire year. It was not just 40 days, it was an entire year. God must have been there on that boat with them because it would have been mind-numbing without Him.
Anyway, in my current life situation there are a lot of needs, events, responsibilities, etc. It is really hard to invest when I often don’t care if life goes on for another five minutes. Depression is truly horrible. It destroys your life. It steals your life. Sometimes, people do take their lives. Those are the ones who cannot take the pain, suffering, and isolation of depression anymore. I have so much compassion for those people. It’s easy to sit by and talk about how selfish they were. “Oh, how could anyone do such a thing?!?” we gasp. It’s not as if anyone ever wants to grow up and be a depressed person who is trapped in a body that betrays them and a mind that simply cannot overcome the depression by willpower alone. Anyone whose depression gets to that level feels very little quality in life. Not only that, but the person begins to feel like he is nothing more than a burden to others because he cannot function at his normal level and he grasps at encouragement with a frightening level of neediness. How is that so different from an elderly person who has to wear incontinence products; is racked with terrible physical pain and who cannot get up out of his, or her, bed even to get to the bathroom? The quality of that person’s life becomes that of agony. Life becomes a state of “survival mode”. I am NOT saying that the person is not valuable – people are valuable no matter what state they are in. They are precious and loved by God. There is no such thing to God as a loser, or a person who is trash, or a person who has outlived their usefulness. But that is fodder for another blog. I’m simply saying that pain management of any kind, in a long-term situation, is very difficult. It drains the person who is in pain and it also drains those who are caregivers.
In our culture we hear so many things like, “time is money” and about how this person, or that person, has skills to offer, or a great resume. We hear these messages over and over and they are about performance and usefulness. When we find ourselves in a place where we cannot function at our normal level and have little to offer as a result… it’s like being locked in a floating coffin for a year. If God is not in there with us, we would rather have perished in the flood because feeling useless and burdensome only adds to the depression. The solitary solution is to hold tight to God and to set the stupidity of our culture aside with all of its vain notions of what success and personal worth are. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: culture is not sacred. I know. I have lived within cultures and between cultures. There is no culture on this earth that matches God’s. God’s culture, His unchanging culture is the only one that is sacred to me.
I cannot live without it. Especially now.