Sunday, January 18, 2009

Depressive Ponderings Part I

I’ve avoided posting this week because I’ve been drifting in a depression. I don’t want to over dramatize it because it is a simple garden-variety depression . . . something that every man and woman knows from time to time. I do take such melancholy turns more seriously than some because I have experienced two episodes (more like epochs) of clinical depression in my life. Any time I find the ground under my feet tilting in that direction I take alarm and start my preventative steps in the opposite bearing.

My steps of prevention are prayer, exercise, getting out side in the sun, cold beers in the hot tub, more chocolate (btw Starbucks Mochas are expensive, but still cheaper than Prozac), more reading and thinking. But these are not part of a “secret formula” for avoiding depression (like the title of a self-help book) . . . but a simple governor to slow the descent. My formula wouldn’t work for others and often doesn’t even work for me.

I haven’t avoided writing. I’ve written several long articles. One was Tuesday morning. We had our semi-annual church congregational meeting Monday night. I felt damned depressed after that. I had several thoughts about the age-old problem for us Post-Evangelicals, and that’s what to do about church. I personally am attending a Evangelical church, and that creates problems from time to time. But that’s another posting. However, I shelved each of my writings for a few days to “age” them . . . then I digitally tear them up (sending them off to the recycle bin via the delete button).

I have learned not to write things for public viewing when I’m depressed. The reason is, when I’m moody, I tend to write too honestly. I also write too honestly in the middle of the night. I’ve lived to regret many things (like e-mails) that I’ve written at 3 AM.

I know that it may sound a bit strange for me to consider depression closer to the truth of reality. After all, it is considered a mental “illness” thus a distortion of reality and something we need to get over quickly. But sometimes I have the sense that the closes I’ve ever been to reality (seeing the world as it really is) is when I’ve been at the very troughs of serious clinical depression. I know that sounds terrible, but I will try to explain.

First of all to humor anyone who has not experienced a prolonged (lasting months) of real depression, it is really worse than death. That’s why some people kill themselves during the middle of it . . . because death is better. I would have killed myself when I was depressed but I had maintained enough sanity (thank God) to know how it would have hurt my family. It is an emotional hell. The best example of this kind of hell, in my opinion, was portrayed in the Robin Williams’ movie, “What Dreams are Made Of.” The flick was trying to portray Hell itself, where the main character (played by Robin) went to rescue his wife. But it was such an awful situation (she was huddled in fetal position inside an upside down church in the most God-forsaken place). Another flick that gives you the feeling is the Japanese animation, “Grave of the Fireflies.”

But why would I even suggest that this type of dark, emotional labyrinth is where we intersect reality the most? I’ve said many times that I believe that Christians really don’t understand the depths of the fall. This is reflected in the notion that we can “grow” or “mature” where we loose most of that darkness. Secondly, I don’t think most Christians really understand the wonderfulness of creation. Now that last statement would seem to suggest that things are better than we know and when we are depressed, we are more out of touch with reality.

However, it is the contrast that makes sadness . . . sad. What I’m trying to say is that a war bride would not be so grieved (crying her eyes out) seeing her solider husband climbing onto the bus with his duffle bag, not to be back again for 18 months, unless she had known the glory of having him home and in her bed every night. A child would not mourn for months over the loss of a dead mother, if they had not known the wonder of loving and having that mother near.
More to come . . .


Anonymous said...

I too have a tenancy to slip into the black hole of depression. I call it a black hole as the closer you get to its center the stronger the pull is, the slower time seems to move, then it rips you apart.
Preaching lifts me up, but sermon prep takes twice as long as i lose concentration. Well i will go back and look at your photos if depressing statuary. It is like walking in the graveyard. You got a picture of a puppy or something?

Anonymous said...

You went to a semi annual church meeting depressed? What are you , a glutton for punishment? Nobody should go to those things.

MJ said...

That last statement makes me laugh, coming from a pastor. :>)