When you live with depression and anxiety you live with danger.
Well it’s been almost a month since my self-perception was seriously interfered with. Since I took a punch so hard I was left in an emotional stupor, staggering from emotional incapacitation to emotionally numb in a deluge of invisible bruising and pain. Left to reflect, I’d say that it’s not a time I’d care to re-live, but regardless of my desire to forget, I find myself ruminating over facts, massaging painful memories and wondering how I let myself become so naïve and vulnerable.
In the past month I’ve behaved in ways that left me shocked. In a life of almost unnatural calm, patience and tolerance (of others), I was reduced to a screaming, punching, sobbing animal. A breed so unfamiliar to me I almost failed to recognise myself in the swampy bog to which I’d descended. And, I’ve been left with the seemingly irreconcilable questions of who am I? And what future awaits?
These questions have become permanent companions as I think my way through seemingly endless days and nights. Sickening feelings churn in my stomach disguised by thoughtless transactional discussions and meaningless busy work performed to distract rather than accomplish.
Perhaps this is the way life is meant to be. An overwhelming mess of emotional upheavals without the benefit of time-out. A confused, tokenistic life dedicated to that one undetermined day that I’m ‘feeling better’. Like a heavenly eternity teasingly available and yet for some reason unobtainable.
So what is it that can release me from an agonizing dilemma? Where is the place that all this can be dumped, buried, burned, dead? Where is it that I can find forgiveness to offer when I’ve been emptied and abandoned? When my strength has been drained and I’m limp and withered, how can I raise myself up to take another terrifying step into an unidentifiable future? And, why do I want to?
Frankly, I should give myself a biblically based pep talk. A series of carefully worded sermonettes constructed to give me a God focused approach to life’s problems. An over-sold expectation of an instantaneous ‘cure’. A trite and simplistic view of God’s willingness to provide comfort and rest. But to what end? Why pursue an invisible, possibly non-existent being to step in and do what I, if I were stronger, could do for myself. Is my weakness my fate?
Sadly, for too many people living with depression and anxiety, this is where our journey ends. The strength required to live with ongoing and unresolved emotional anguish is too, too much. Our ‘fate’ consumes us in a fire of hopelessness and despair where we accept our fruitlessness and inadequacy by a measure conceived in the humanist beliefs of self-actualization and purpose. Beliefs that would have us know we are nothing more than an accident of nature. A life in preparation for death.
From my current vantage point (at the bottom of a bog) I’d be willing to accept my uselessness and despair. I’d be willing to admit defeat in a life filled with overwhelming challenges and adversity. And yet even here in my bog I have not forgotten that my purpose is perhaps not yet fulfilled and that beyond this place, there is hope.
Hope; from which I can draw unnatural strength. Hope; that is the source of forgiveness my heart cannot find. Hope; that this day will pass, and that all the days just like it will also pass. Hope; that I will find peace and safety.
Romans 8:24-25 Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
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Deb Shugg is an awarded businesswoman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety.
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If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor.
(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)