Depression. Sometimes we struggle with it. And it is always a struggle. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. If you’re dealing with it, it’s a struggle. For some of us it’s a severe condition, for some of us it’s seasonal, for some of us it gets worse depending on the climate of our new homes, the list of circumstantial pieces goes on and on. Here is a little something that the Bestie recently sent to me from The Twelve-Step Program for Life.
“1. There will be some days when you close your eyes while crossing the street, maybe because you want to see what fate has in store for you, or maybe because your depression is running rampant again and you don’t know how to calm her. It’s okay. I will still love you.
2. There will be a year, or a series of years when your birthday doesn’t feel special. Celebrate anyway. Because people spent time baking you a cake and buying you cards and even if they’re your family and they’re obligated to, they still love you. Cherish that love. Revel in it. It is the best gift you will ever receive.
3. You will learn that the saddest word in the English language is stay. Whether it’s your mother’s voice whispering it before you leave for college, or your ex-lover’s desperate screams as you walk out of the house, it will always be a hard word to hear. Sometimes you should listen to it, other times you shouldn’t. Trust yourself. Go with your gut.
4. Along with hearing the word stay, you will also hear the word why from every person who is remotely related to you. Why did you get that tattoo? Why did you try to kill yourself? Why aren’t you married yet? You don’t have to answer them. Be selfish. Keep somethings to yourself.
5. Some nights you won’t be able to sleep. You will lie awake at 2 am and contemplate existentialism and wonder if the French had a point. Get up. Get out of your bed. Do something. Because even if there is no God, what you do matters, who you are matters. You matter to me.
6. Some days you will want to run away and never return. So go. Drive to a small town in the Northwest, maybe Oregon, and settle down there for a while. Tell people your name is Elizabeth, because you loved Jane Austen as a child and because this a town full of strangers and who’s to know the difference? Don’t be selfish. Call your mother each night and remind her that you love her. Come back home when you find yourself seeing your sadness painted in the shadows, and when you feel more at home in the arms of a stranger than on your own.
7. There will be several nights when you lose yourself in the medicine cabinet, because liquor and morphine seem like a faster cure than time. It’s okay. I will still love you in the morning.
8. One day, in the midst of work, you will learn to forgive. It will start out with a simple reminder of the past, maybe a facebook notification from an old schoolmate or a wedding announcement from an ex-lover. In that moment you will learn that yearning for the past isn’t romantic, it’s stupid, and that if Gatsby had just let go of the green light he would’ve lived. So forgive your past, it didn’t know any better, and move on.
9. Leaving home will hurt, but soon you will learn that home isn’t a place but a feeling, and that there is a compass on your heart that points directly to that feeling. Follow that compass. Don’t get sidetracked by boys who don’t care or alcohol that doesn’t forgive. If you follow that compass, no matter how lost you get, you will always have a home.
10. The hardest lesson you will ever learn will be to love yourself. But you can do it. There will always be days when you hate yourself, days when you wish you had never been born. But darling you are beautiful, and if Shakespeare had met you you would’ve inspired his 18th sonnet, and if Monet had known you he would’ve given up painting water lilies and chosen to paint you instead. I know it’s hard to love yourself, but sometimes it’s okay to be a little selfish with your love.
11. When you begin to feel worthless, remember that the stars died for you. You are made of elements that are thousands of years old, elements that make up every atom of your being. When you want to cut your wrists, remember that the souls of stars live in your veins. Don’t kill them. Don’t be selfish.
12. Some days will be beautiful. Live for those days. Live for the days when the sun shines on your soul and the smile on your face isn’t forced. Live for the days when you don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks because your scars are a part of your story and you don’t need someone else’s approval to wear them with pride.
Live for the life you always wanted but were too scared to pursue.
Live for you. Live for me. Live for every person who has ever loved you, for the people who have come before you so that you may be here today.
Live for the fire that burns in your soul, that tells you: keep going, you’re almost there, just a little farther. Because when Rome burned down the emperor didn’t run away, he stayed and he sang for his people. Stay. Sing for your people. Sing for us. Are you listening? Because this is your life, singing a siren song to capture your attention and steer away from the rocks, to guide you back home.”
-The Twelve-Step Program for Life, by M.K.
For more helpful everyday tips, here are some notes from a DIY blog I follow of a woman who deals with severe depression. She is great and I love her sharp, sometimes dry, wit. 🙂
*I prefer Mick McAuley and Winifred Horan’s cover of this masterpiece.
I don’t necessarily listen to this song with a romantic notion of love in mind, although in some cases that would be an accurate interpretation. I genuinely feel this way about all of the people I care deeply about. I have “no doubt in my mind where you belong.” “There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do to make you feel my love.” I feel that intensely about the people in my life and I hurt when they hurt.
We’ve been discussing Lamentations and lament psalms and laments in the prophets and I have felt like it’s the most relevant thing I’ve ever studied. I see so much pain and suffering in the world, particularly amongst my loved ones, and it makes me angry! It makes me question where God is at in all of it sometimes and reading the Old Testament tells me that that’s ok. It’s ok to ask questions. It’s ok to lament and be angry, because I am not the first person to blame God. You are not the first person to blame God. And yes, I have faith that God will do something good with all it and I will keep praising him, but right now I just need to put my emotions out there and it’s my job to let those who are hurting know that they have a resource to use when they cannot find the words to express their anger and sorrow. I’ve been there, you’ve been there. Sometimes we have so much to say, but our language is limited.
Well, turn to Jeremiah. Turn to Lamentations. They are beautiful in that they are so harsh and honest. Jer. 20:13 says that the LORD has enticed Jeremiah. The footnotes there in the Harper Collins edition say that this is typically read as rape language, that this is the most blasphemous curse in the Bible. And he was the LORD’s prophet! This was a man that God loved. If he can make such a harsh statement and still speak to the people on behalf of God, well, then I’m not doing too bad. Better yet, it must be ok to angry with God sometimes.
What beauty! What grace I feel knowing this, because sometimes I DO blame God for my situation. I often identify with this particular passage, because, like Jeremiah, I was enticed into ministry at a young age and as a result I do not have other training. I am solely equipped for ministry and sometimes that means dealing with the weight of the world, sometimes it means working myself ragged to pay the bills or to get a necessary education. It is God who gave me a heart the size of the Pacific Ocean and it is God who has convicted me to take care of the lost and the broken. Sometimes, I feel I may be torn in two as my heart leaps from my chest. Sometimes, what awaits me is terrifying.
But I am not alone. We are not alone.
So let it out. Yell and scream and cry and, yes, curse, because we have Biblical examples of that and God is listening to the hearts of honest men and women.
The title of this post makes it sound so much more glum than things really are. I really am doing quite ok. I’ve had the opportunity to have short conversations with Bestie and last night I spent two hours on FaceTime with Big Sis. I haven’t had much of a chance to talk to The Nerd(aka Little Sis), but I know she’s busy experiencing college and spending time with her boyfriend. I do miss her, though. Also Little Man. He’s gotten so busy with boy scouts and soccer and choir and band and theatre, and the list goes on, that he’s never home when I call. I try not to feel sad about that, though, because I’m so proud of him. He’s growing into such an amazingly talented and SMART, geeze is he smart, young man. Sometimes I can’t believe he’s only 12.
Anyway, I didn’t really mean to blab on and on about my family, but they’re just so amazing. I came here to fill you in on what’s been happening in my life!
Well, first of all, I was in a car accident a week and a half ago. I’m ok. The car is going to be ok. The other driver is ok. It was a pretty wretched way to come back from my short visit to MO, but it could have been so much worse. Today was my first day back to work at PPL and I definitely feel the soreness and stiffness, but it was good to be back. I do a surprising amount of thinking while I’m at the library. The kind of thinking I used to do when I shelved at Smiley or when I would spend hours a week driving back and forth from Grandview in high school.
I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. I’ve felt the weight of the world. All the sadness and pain I see in the news and in the people I interact with. I don’t know, it’s like my undergrad experience and my experiences working in ministry have taught me to be aware of what others are facing and dealing with and I feel so convicted to do SOMETHING that it’s becoming a problem. I love school and I believe in an educated ministry, but it’s so hard to do seminary when I’m wading through the issues of the world. I can’t sleep at night, my social skills are suffering, I don’t have an appetite, I can’t focus in class…
Again, this makes it sounds so much worse than the situation is. I’m still going to class everyday and doing my homework and doing fairly well, I think, I’m just distracted. And I need to figure out a way to refocus very soon, otherwise it will be a problem.
I’ve also been fighting some of my own demons, but if ministry has taught me anything it’s that our demons never really go away. I just have to trust in the God who loves me to help me make it through. And also take proactive measures against myself. It’s really easy to get trapped in my own head space, especially when I’m so far away from the people who can get me out of it.
Hot tea helps. 🙂 I think hot tea might be able to solve the world’s problems. Maybe not hunger. I’m still working on that one.