A few weeks ago, a friend casually asked “How are you?” I dismissed it with “fine, thanks”, but I wasn’t. I said “I’m sorry, I lied. I kind of want to dig a hole and lay down in it”.
Like most people, I have battled depression. Winston Churchill called it his “Black Dog”, and King David penned Psalm 6, which is a short but pained lament. For me, it’s not constant, very intense, or long-lasting. I’ve never seriously considered hurting myself, but is still there, and it’s an extra burden to shoulder in addition to the existing pressures of life. Several of my family members have struggled with depression, and many of my friends have.
For me, when I start “getting dark”, I need to refocus, or it’ll take root and fester. I might work out, make a list of things I’m grateful (starting with broad things like photosynthesis and tightening it to the point that I’m grateful I can drink coffee even though I don’t live in a tropical region, or that I still have some of that mouthwash I like), pray, play music, get out in nature. I’ve got to do something. That doesn’t always immediately work,but I can’t not try. I’m a really positive person, even when grappling with some heavy blues. I remember one occasion when I was feeling especially afflicted- My family and I were at church, and the band was playing. They were great, but I just stood there. I was unable to get in to it. I couldn’t bring myself to clap, which is not usual for me, with my background being a kinetic worship specialist. My wife asked why I was just standing there, and I said “because I feel dead inside”. I can’t just snap out of it. Depression is not a mood.
Still, I kept going to that church, and kept pushing forward. My depression lifted. This bout was especially long. My focus was able to no longer be on myself and my situation. It’ll still come and go, but what’s important for me to remember is that IT WILL GO. I’m a healthy person. I am loved by amazing people and have a life of adventure and beauty, and I will not be able to forever neglect the fact that I have been endowed a unique position. The Black Dog may visit, and I might indulge it in a game of fetch, but I refuse to serve as it’s boarding kennel.