Each day is a fight, to varying degrees. A fight for joy? A fight to stay afloat? A fight against this silly black dog, who I forget about even though he’s always skulking along behind me. Some days I don’t notice the struggle, it’s just part of the momentum of the every day. And other days it feels like to even see beyond the next five minutes is impossible, like I’m stumbling around in fog.
I’ve been sick for a while with some coldish thing, got better, went away for the weekend, then got sick again. It’s been dragging on for weeks now, with headaches and nausea and aches and pains and the blah blah blah of symptoms that are so boring to describe because they are just so mundane. They sound, even to me, like excuses, like hypochondria, like psychosomatic nothings.
But today I woke up feeling much more okay than I have for a while. I felt like moving. I felt like doing something. So I did some yoga to ease back into things (not that my exercise is ever what you’d call strenuous!). I felt great. Had some yummy food for lunch. I was starting to feel like just blobbing at home but no, had things to do! I was up and energised! I could achieve them! I got in the car and drove to the inner west…
And then my brain kicked in.
“What are you doing? Why are you at college? Why did you think you could do this? You’re only part time now, what’s it going to be like when you’re full time? You shouldn’t be at college. You shouldn’t be at college. You haven’t even done the readings for the last couple of weeks. You’ve only been to half the lectures. You shouldn’t be at college.”
And on. And on. And on.
Eventually my common sense kicked in and went “hey that’s the depression talking, snap out of it.” So I rang my mum for a reality check, and wise as ever, she reminded me I’d been sick, run down and tired from the weekend away. And that whenever I felt like that I had to look after myself and remember that I needed lots of rest.
But by the time I was sitting in my class at college I felt the nausea and headaches start to hit again. I thought I could tough it out. I mean, it’s only two hours, right? But at the mid-class break one of my friends walked past and said “Bec! You look terrible!” and I thought “right. I’m going home.”
The drive home seemed to take forever. But eventually I got home, put on my trackies, got out my Old Testament textbook and did the readings for class while in bed under my blanket. After a couple of hours I still feel a bit blah but much better than I did.
Sometimes depression feels like a tangible enemy, to the point where I feel I can echo David’s words in Psalm 13 and cry to God, wanting to know when this season of my life will end. It’s been years now! Will I always feel like this? Maybe, maybe not. Will I ever have boundless energy and stamina and ability? Maybe, maybe not (though all signs point to no…I mean who does, right?). Does suffering depression mean that God loves me less? Of course not!
As much as the enemy is prowling around, the closing stanza of this psalm is ever true. May I ever trust our gracious God, and go wherever he leads me. He’ll give me what I need to do the work he wants me to do.
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?How long will you hide your face from me?How long must I take counsel in my souland have sorrow in my heart all the day?How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.I will sing to the LORD,because he has dealt bountifully with me.
(Psalm 13 ESV)