All right, Day three. Day three of meditating on, "Rejoice always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances" (I Thessalonians 5:16, NIV). Another day slogging through the scripture in the grip of depression.
I'm going to try and write without playing to an audience as if this is just between God and I and not something I will be posting on the internet. God knows my aim in writing this was to sort through this scripture in a way that was not only beneficial to myself, but also might be beneficial to others. Prayerfully, through the use of a public forum, I can connect with someone else and infuse in them the reality that they are not alone.
We are not alone.
My more cringe-worthy moments this week come from talking with people who started out the conversation with, "How are you?" The question itself is appropriate as a conversation starter, but makes me cringe when asked in a tone best reserved for patients in full body cast who've been on the receiving end of some intense trauma. It's asked as if the asker is afraid that I might break into a zillion pieces, or worse, as if I might lose all control and begin to babble incoherently. More than likely, my pride is kicking in, but I want to remind people that I'm the same Chaka they were dealing with last week and the week before – before they knew I was struggling with depression. Don't handle me with kid gloves, it isn't necessary.
And don't spout spiritual platitudes at me. I don't want to hear about, "claiming healing in Jesus' name," or "having enough faith to heal," or "rebuking the depression." Intentions may be good, hearts may be sincere, but platitudes are not helpful. As a matter of fact, none of the things you tell a depressed person will magically lift them from the grip of the beast, but spiritual platitudes are among the things that have a negative return and are therefore best kept to yourself.
That being said, there are things you can say or do that might be helpful:
1. Tell a person you love them and they're not alone when the bottom sometimes falls out of things. 2. Talk to them like they are regular people who are struggling through a problem like regular people do.
3. Don't just tell them they need to get out, go and pick them up and take them shopping or out to lunch or out to the gym.
3. Don't shun them. As long as you're not spouting trite nonsense, simple encouragements go a long way. You can ask, "Do you need anything?"
4. And lastly, please, try not to take it personally! There are times when a person is dealing with situational depression and if you are part of the situation, then perhaps you have some control over changing it. But if depression is caused by a chemical malfunction in my mind (usually brought on by winter in my case), it has nothing to do with you, so please don't take my well-being upon yourself. The most you can do is walk alongside me as I wade through the muck.
And for all who fight the good fight with me, my hope is that you'll take good care of yourself, be patient with yourself, and get yourself to a health care provider if the funk doesn't lift.
Today, I didn't want to write anything. Today, I'm home with four children because school is out for snow. I actually got down on my knees and cried to God in prayer for a little while because I desperately wanted to go back to bed and wouldn't be able to because I was needed.
In deference to the scripture, I thanked God for this situation and continue to lift up prayers to him for his strength to carry me through the big and little tasks necessary for the day (algebraic word problems are seriously difficult with a muddled brain).
I didn't exercise yesterday and I should have, I do believe I'm paying for that today. Exercise doesn't cure, but it definitely helps.
So that's where I am. Not feeling particularly eloquent, but rather, spectacularly exposed. May God be glorified in the midst of it all.