Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Depression

I have dealt with depression for most of my adult life, but only in cycles that are relatively short. It seems a part of my ADD, and I have grown to understand it and to just wade through it. Apparently what happens is I self medicate with adrenaline rushes. This allows me to hyper focus and be somewhat normal in how I operate socially, and mentally. So I live my life in some sort of chaos, this chaos makes my adrenaline surge, and I function very well in this stressed out world I have created. But, since we can't live that way for long, I usually end up in a cycle of depression that lasts for a few days, I can't do much, I lay around, I feel on the verge of tears at all times. Then like magic I pop out of it, and start creating a whole new bach of chaos for myself.

Let me tell you, my wife loves this :)

The only problem is, sometimes it lasts longer. One time I sank into a ten month spot of depression, and the term "dark night of the soul" really became reality to me. This portion of my life was very difficult. I was in youth ministry at the time, I had two very young children, and ofcourse my wife. I felt all alone. I would lay in bed at night, right next to my wife, and feel all alone in the world. I cried almost every night. I had no energy, I had no desire, no passion and none of my usual manic optimism. I never thought of suicide I could not quit, and could not subject my family to that, I just wished I wasn't alive anymore. It was very difficult for me, and my family.

The interesting thing is God never stopped using me. I did not hide my depression, I shared with the kids in my youth group, with the elders from my church, and ofcourse with my wife. I had made a commitment to never be false with the community God entrusted me to. So it wasn't the put on a happy face and pretend everything is okay. But God calls us to be faithful, and honors that faithfulness. I felt no passion, yet God somehow allowed my messages to encourage others and so forth. I learned a valuable lesson at this time. How we walk in the midst of these hard times is what defines and refines our charecter. We are called to be open, honest, and faithful.

The only thing that makes my "cycle" a bit hard, is my fear that it won't go away in a few days. Because I remember the one time it didn't go away, for ten months. And then it only went away after I fasted for 21 days on just water. That a story I can tell at another time.

Well about three and a half weeks ago, I felt the familiar cycle start to hit its bottom, a few days later it had not risen, and I was scared. I asked people to pray for me, and I began examining the different stimuli that may cause the extension.

Part of the problem is my body. My fight training really helps me to deal with both the ADD and the depression, but lately I get hurt so much I can't train as intensely as I need to for my medicinal needs.

Another part of the problem is being alone. I am not good at it. I have for the last sixteen years always had people in my home. My wife home schooled the kids, so the family was always there. Our church was always an open door policy so usually some of the church members were there as well. And often we had people living with us, for a variety of reasons. But now, when I am working at home as I often do, the wife is at the cafe working, the girls are at school, and I am by myself. I am a very social person, and this has been hard.

And the last part, well I do think there is a spiritual element to it all. I feel a bit under scrutiny if you understand what I mean.

These things added to my usual cycle, had caused me to have a bit of a lengthy dip. But as I have learned before, I ask for prayer, share my situation, and keep doing as I am called to do. It isn't fun, or easy, but I just keep walking. At the FORGE intensive I was at the two and a half week mark. It was a bit hard, but many there prayed for me. I heard some brilliant messages by Mark Sayers, Mike Frost, Al and Deb Hirsh. And the Sunday night service was quite enjoyable. I spoke on Monday, and I think did okay. But the dark cloud still had not lifted. But God still used me I believe. And He always does.

My desire is to be an example of God's faithfulness, by being faithful myself. To share the good, the bad, and the ugly with those I journey with. I refuse to come across as the got it all together God man, the fact is, I am as stuffed up as you, or anyone else. I have doubts, fears, and depression and I walk with God through it all. With the help of my community, and the Spirit of God, I am faithful, and so too can you be.

By the way, it appears I will not need to fast, which is good, the food here in Melbourne is too good to go on a long fast :) Thanks to those that have prayed and encouraged me along the way.

the rev

4 comments:

Christop said...

Hey John, I've had similar experiences with depression, and I cope with it in similar ways. So I'll be praying for you.

(Don't know if you remember, but I talked to you at one of the intensive open nights end of last year, when you were recovering from an injury to one of your eyes.)

Kitty Cheng said...

hey John and Christop, i've had a few depressive episodes in my life too. So let's support each other in prayer. I've added your names in my prayer list already.

The Rev said...

thanks guys, I am doing much better now, but wanted to share a bit of the darker side of my journey.

I will pray for you also, but I do think depression, is a pretty common problem, many of us just don't accept it, or recognize it.

the rev

Kitty Cheng said...

i've actually written about bipolar disorder in my blog (also known as manic depression)
welcome to have a read:
http://kittycheng.blogspot.com/2005/03/bipolar-disorder.html