I stopped writing here for awhile. Well, fourteen months actually.
The psychiatrist who suggested that I share my reflections on my journey through anxiety, depression, and the auto-immune disorder called lupus, retired, and I started feeling uncomfortable “laying it all out there.” I no longer wanted to stress out family and friends with every bump in the road, every negative thought, and every fear and struggle. This gave me the choice of being less honest in my writing or not posting at all. So I just stopped.
Maybe I was just suffering with the personal mental health blogger version of “The Sequel Syndrome” as Blogger Miriam Neal writes in her blog “writing/art/etcetera” in tackling the subject for novelists. https://mirriamneal.com/2017/06/07/sequel-syndrome-and-how-to-avoid-it. How do you get back writing again? She suggests first taking a break. Checked that block.
After 14 month I have come to the tentative conclusion that reflection and posting and interacting with others here is helpful. Worth the risks to all involved. Is “good for me.” So here are words collected together in another blogpost. For me. For you.
Like a great prologue to a sequel, let me summarize these past 14 months in shorthand: The medication for my depression stopped working and it really sucked.
There is no test that will warn you that the efficacy of your depression meds is waning. No dipstick you can use (“Looks like I am a quart low on happiness today.”) No light that starts flashing or turns from green to yellow then to red. No siren that goes off. No futuristic robot that cries out “DANGER! (inset your own name here).” I concluded the failure of my medication because one part of my mind was still functioning enough to connect the dots of not feeling emotionally mellow as I had for nearly four years; of not wanting to do anything, particularly anything new; of being defensive, being anxious, snapping back; ED (some day I will be able to write those two letters and crack an actual joke. Some day); and then finally, a biochemical-induced despair so sudden and severe that another moment of living could not even be imagined: One starts to contemplate sharp objects on an on-going basis. Except. Except for that small corner of cognition that says: “Yea but what about your family; all of the people you are blessed with, the activities that give you such joy.” Somehow that lone spark had not been extinguished. I headed off with honesty to the psychiatrist and asked for an alternative. We agreed on one and built up its dose and weaned of the first medication and stood back to check on side effects. Side effects are those things that announcers read at the end of drug commercials at a rate of speech approaching the speed of light. My unscientific review of said commercials has led me to conclude that the more likely that death is involved, the faster they read. HOWEVER, the side effects for my new medication could have been spoken slowly by any fifth grader (who we must assume is smarter than most of us), but still I harbor doubts that they would have understood what they were saying. I hope so, any way. In the game of life that includes depression medication, I will be waiting another month to see if I adjust to it to the point where side effects diminish or disappear. Or not. Rinse. Wash. Repeat (as needed).
I confess that I am broken and wonder if I will ever be whole. I am wounded and wonder if I will ever be healed. Faith declares the answer to be Jesus, the great “yes.” However, in the test of life, I’m beginning to think that this particular question is more essay than short answer; and a multi-parter to boot. Maybe struggles and doubt and pain make me a better pastor, maybe a worse one. I really don’t know. And I’m ok with that. I “pastor on” because it was what I know how to do, believe that I am called to do, and I can’t imagine another vocation, which is comforting. I pastor on because every time self-doubt creeps in and occasionally brings self-loathing along as a date, God (and I believe with all of my heart that it is God) tosses them out with signs and wonders that open my eyes; eyes that I didn’t even know I had shut to what is taking place around me: the beauty, the spirit, the joy, the love.
And that is more than enough.