Thursday, April 10, 2014

When Joy Won't Come

How are you, friends?

The oppressive, shivering winter has been dismissed by the grace of God, at last. There is much to celebrate; new sights, smells, delights. Sunshine, blue sky (not most days...this is still Ohio), and the promise of tulips soon.

I should feel exuberant, I've told myself, yet the last three days have been headache-infused; depression has been my unwelcome companion. Darkness attaches itself to me during on-going physical pain, or when my days are hormone-colored. Usually, these come as one package, creating an overall wretchedness (and a woman named Eve is my enemy).

For me, depression is hopelessness; a perception that the heaviness will never lighten; a sudden lack of energy and drive; an inability to look beyond the present or my own feelings.

Having to cut my mother out of my life has brought many depressing days, as I fight the guilt that inevitably plagues anyone who disowns a parent. I think I've made progress at times, but then someone will say something that brings the guilt and doubt rushing back into my psyche.

Alcoholism--any drug addiction--is the gift that just keeps on giving. Forgiveness isn't the hard thing. It's in trying to break every tie the dysfunction has to you; that is the difficult part. A dsyfunctional family past needn't define us, but neither can it be ignored as a negative force in our lives. Over and again, we have to lay it down before the Lord, asking for relief.

When I detect depression in my heart and mind, I am sure of one thing. Depression must be fought. It's a war--sometimes a spiritual war, sometimes a physical one.

In trying to find relief, I've come across some helpful Scriptures and interesting facts.

Moses, Elijah, David, and Job all dealt with some depression, as did Abraham Lincoln, who sometimes refused to carry a knife to protect himself from suicide. Glowing portraits of Abraham Lincoln usually leave out his profound melancholy. But, this formidable thorn in the flesh inspired him to greatness, as he leaned on the Lord for his strength.

Greatness is...what? What makes a person great?

I think we approach greatness when we've fought our battles with courage, whether the world is in on our story or not (there are many great unknown people with stories just as inspiring as Abe's).

When our choices have allowed God's glory to rest on us, we come to share in his glory. In human standards, that's greatness: we've forsaken our ego for God's, allowing his greatness to overshadow us. When we're willing to let it be about God, instead of about us, we become great.

Whatever our cross to bear is, we've not resorted to bitterness, but have leaned on the Counselor and surrendered our pain to God for his use. 

Some of us have monumental battles and others have smaller ones that feel no less enormous. With the Lord as our shield and our strength, we cannot be defeated. He who stands before us in glory, has already won the battle.

We fight with Scripture; it's a good time for a topical study, or many days in the Psalms. Delve in, read the verses aloud, pray them over your heart. Pray them with conviction and force, as though they're arrows destined for the enemy's Achilles heal. You may need medicine too in some cases, but that cannot replace the Scripture arsenal.

I have a few verses posted below, but this fine lady has posted many more, along with her story of panic disorder, depression, anxiety.

Psalm 43:5 – Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God.

Psalm 34:18, 19 – The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (19) A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.

Psalm 55:22 – Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall

Psalm 62:5 – Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.

Psalm 126:5 – Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy

Are you sometimes gripped by depression? What has worked for you in fighting the battle for joy?


Anonymous said...

I do wonder if depression is linked to traits such as compassion and courage. I didn't realise I was depressed until I started taking medication for IBS. My lovely doctor said to me "It's not a physical problem. We need to look at the whole picture not just keep trying to fix the body." So she put me on anti-depressants which also worked as anti-anxiety and my symptoms virtually disappeared overnight. I knew I was anxious but I hadn't realised that I was depressed because for me that was normal. I couldn't remember not feeling that way, and I could remember times when I had felt so much worse. I'm not saying that this would work for you, or that it wouldn't, but is it worth seeing a doctor?
Bless you, you have so much on your plate - and I know you always try to do your best for people. You also have the situation with your mother and the deep wound that that brings. I hope you are able to give yourself a break and that you don't feel obliged to be strong all the time. It's ok to be human - and what you feel is not wrong, it's perfectly natural in your situation. I will keep praying for you and your family.
I also think God wants you to know that you are NOT a failure (forgive me if I'm wrong, I don't claim to know what God is saying but I thought what if I'm right but I don't say it and you need to hear it?).
Will keep you in my prayers.
Sandy x

Christine said...

THank you, Sandy. Depression may be more prevalent in people who are introspective, I wonder? Because we think things through so thoroughly that our brains can get stuck, so to speak? I don't know. I don't know very many people who admit to being depressed, so it is hard to say.

I just turned 48 and have the depression primarily because of hormones, but the daily struggles just fuel it--the stress from son's OCD and the stress from the situation with my mother.

Doctors do sometimes put women in perimenopause on antidepressants, and if it gets worse I can go that route, but the problem is that my cycle is still like clockwork and some months I feel fine. Perimenopause right now is just a worsening of what we would normally call PMS. I didn't even get PMS badly until I hit about 44. The migraines worsenened in my forties as well so I know they are hormone-related, but after tough periods of the day with my son I can definitely get one from that too.

I don't feel like a failure, but I do think people who come from dsyfunctional homes struggle with feeling less than. I have always felt that way, and the only thing that combats it is developing a talent or something that I can gain confidence from...though I've learned that our propensity for certain talents come from God's plan for our lives, so he gets the credit.

Perhaps in all of us confidence comes from accomplishment, I don't know. Can just the genuine love of two healthy parents instill confidence, or does everybody need to work out their confidence by their hardwork? Interesting question.

It is possible that everything an unsupported child accomplishes is harder fought because they do it without the support of a healthy family who is cheering them on and loves them genuinely. Unhealthy people often feel jealous of their children's accomplishements and end up sabatoging them.

Adversity builds strength and character, that is for sure. Bitterness is the enemy for anyone dealing with an unfortunate past or present. That is why I think we must be willing to let God use our unfortunate circumstances for his glory, instead of getting mad at God for not healing us completely right now. The Bible helps us fight bitterness and encourages us to offer up our pain for God's use.

Are the antidepressants helping and do you struggle with side effects? Some women go through ten years of perimenopause before things settle down, so I don't know what is ahead.

Bless you today!

Anonymous said...

That's exactly what it's like - your head gets stuck. That's exactly what I would say to my dear Frank sometimes. That's what happens with OCD too, but in a slightly different way (I have an embarrassing form of OCD which has also been made so much better by these tablets). I'm doing so much better on the anti-depressants. Come to think of it the PMS has mostly gone, too.
I pray for you every time I think of you, which is often, and you are also on my prayer list.


Christine said...

You are a dear friend and I thank you for the prayers. I am glad to hear the medicine is helping you so much. Praise God for breakthroughs in medicine!