I wrestle with depression...and boy have I slid into a pool of it this go round. I know this bout is significant as I don't even have the gumption or energy to go to West Virginia for the Memorial Day holiday...a tradition I've had for almost a decade to decorate the graves of my ancestors. The place I call home.
Not this year...
I'm not sure why I struggle...but it has been, for the most part, lifelong...but episodic. Probably a combination of artistic temperament, introversion, family of origin, chronic stress, chronic sorrow, and marching to the beat of a different drummer...and also a life changed I mentioned in a previous post. I'm resilient...but it doesn't come easy. It's all God's grace.
I found these quotes quite eye-opening, as someone who has viewed creating equivalent to breathing:
- Artistic temperament sometimes seems a battleground, a dark angel of destruction and a bright angel of creativity wrestling. - Madeline L'Engle
- Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one. - Stella Adler
- The arts are more dangerous [than other occupations] because they require sensitivity to a large extent. If you go too far you can pay a price -- you can be too sensitive to live in this world. -Terence Ketter
- He was a complicated artist who had an inner life and embedded that inner life on the page. His anxieties and fears brought him Lucy and the characters in ‘Peanuts.’ A normal person couldn’t have done it. - David Michaelis about Charles Schulz
But even more...was Ann Voskamp's post on April 7, 2013, after Rick Warren's youngest son died of suicide. Ann tells of her own story...and how telling her story is what sets her free. The thought I had at the end was, "Wow...I wish I had written that!"We hear the term "mental illness" and see the Jared Loughners, Adam Lanzas, and the James Holmeses of society...the most severe extreme. And yet, on any given day, no less than 35% of the population is dealing with issues of anxiety and depression...while still tolerating its pain in silence as they function in life...numbing as they go so they can take the next step. But the numbing is actually adding to the problem.
With me, it comes in waves...starting out almost unnoticed...then a low buzz like the hum of a refrigerator...then I become more aware as my energy is zapped from doing anything or seeing/talking to anyone...and then stuck in a "what's the point" frame of mind...that interferes with doing anything with any of the little energy I have to muster...including reaching out.
And when do I know this bout has passed? When I am able to glimpse purpose and meaning once again in my life...and that energizes me. Deep, rich conversations with kindred spirits nourish my soul in a way beyond measure...including those dialogues with my Savior.
I did a series on The Battlefield of the Mind in March...about controlling how we think, how we talk to ourselves in our mind...because your thoughts create your emotions and subsequent behavior...your life, in fact. My reward? A bout of depression (I say while laughing). I've heard it said that "we teach best what we need to learn most." True dat!
But what bothers me still, is how the Church fails so miserably when fellow Christians, such as myself, are experiencing this pain. What to do?
I love the suggestions in Rebekah Lyons' article: My Take: Let's Quit Keeping Mental Illness a Secret. She suggests:
Isolation/going-it-alone is the most treacherous route for those being tossed in the storm of anxiety or depression...and yet, I believe Ms. Lyons has it right. Without understanding, available "others" in our lives, isolation is the least painful than being with those who are naive, clueless, smug, or pious.
I wrote on Facebook today, "Jesus came for the sick, not the smug"...a quote from Ann Voskamp.
In the end, Jesus is my go-to-guy and brings the hope of hope! I have not wanted to go anywhere this weekend or pick up my camera to create anything...but I sit at home in the quiet, with the breeze coming through the house, hearing the songs of the birds of spring migration, with a glass of iced tea, having the courage to tell my story.
Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy--the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of the Light. -Brene BrownAnd all is grace and will always be...whether I recognize it or not.
And I feel a little motivation...to order my front porch swing, where I could have been sitting, with all of you beside me. I'll let you know when it comes in!