I wanted this blog to be one of encouragement to those who have in the past or currently do struggle with depression, as well as to those who love someone who is battling this illness. Where I could share my thoughts and experiences, and point to Christ. So readers could see that He was – and is – always with me. Even if I don’t feel Him, He’s there. That’s His promise. That’s truth, despite what I think or feel. He never leaves me.
But what do I write when I’m the one struggling? It’s not depression, not even Adjustment Disorder. I’m dealing with grief due to loss and loneliness, those emotions that come from change, from moving across the country. Still in the stage of getting settled and adjusting to my new home, environment, routine, and relationships (which are few).
A good friend once told me, “Just start with where you are.” This was when I was facilitating a peer-led Christian depression support group, and going through my own personal time of difficulty – wasn’t sure I’d be able to “lead.” My friend/advisor reminded me that I could model transparency if I just shared from where I was. So that’s what I did – I shared honestly and vulnerably. God used that evening to remind me that the group wasn’t about me, nor was it important for me to “have it all together.” In fact, to share honestly encouraged others to do the same, and pointed them to Jesus’ presence and His strength in our difficult times.
Over the past 7 years, I have consistently journaled – almost every day – especially during depressive episodes. Most of my entries start or end as prayers though there are some that are just thoughts. But I consider those to be prayers, too; they are usually written thoughts directed to God. That’s praying without ceasing, right? Heaven-directed thoughts? Now I need to journal, and I find myself avoiding it – not sure why. Forced myself yesterday, wrote a few pages. But the intense emotions I’m experiencing right now (mostly grief and loneliness) – I think they are scaring me, and I’m not writing them out. And I know it would be helpful, but I’m not doing it.
I’m not blogging with the frequency I want. I had hoped to be at once a week, but it turns out to be 3x/month. I know that’s okay. It’s just that I have lots of topics I want to write about, but I’m not writing much at all. Self-imposed demands that I’m not meeting – have to fight the self-talk that says I failed because I didn’t reach my goal. It’s harder to see the victories of three blog entries rather than the failure of not writing four.
I think not writing is coming from fear – fear of facing these emotions of loneliness and loss and grief head on. Even as I write this, I can picture myself physically turned and facing a tangible orange blob labeled loneliness, and tears fill my eyes, threaten to spill over. Maybe next week, when my daughter has returned home and my husband is traveling. Maybe I need to plan time to experience those emotions, so I’m stuffing them until I can give them the attention they are going to require.
They really hurt. I’ve often dealt with emotions like this is the sanctuary of my previous therapist’s office. Somehow, though, I know I need to do it just with God. And I’m afraid. I’ve prayed about it some – shared them with God as I’ve cried, usually as I’m getting ready to sleep. I’ll tell Him, “I’m feeling lonely.” And whatever comes after that. But those times have been short, because I’m falling asleep. I think what I need to do is share them with Him when He, and they, have my full attention.
My new therapist gives me great assurances and wise instruction. She said I need to blog. She encouraged me to use this as a time to grow in my relationship with God – letting Him fill the voids in my heart. To spend time with Him, letting the Holy Spirit comfort me as I face the loneliness and loss, the grief. She reminds me that I’m doing ok. I can release all the self-imposed stuff, all the “shoulds.” I should be writing this much. I should be making more connections, should have more friendships, be in service at my church (we don’t even have a church home yet, so why am I imposing that upon myself?).
So for today’s blog post, I’m just sharing where I am. Starting with what I’m feeling and doing now.
And I’m reminding myself, and anyone reading, that I am not here alone. God is with me. He promised, and He always keeps His promises. So we’ll face the grief and loneliness together. Who knows? Maybe I’ll blog on that next week!