by C Michael PattonMay 2nd, 2010 58 Comments
My life is now divided into two categories: AD (After Depression) and BC (Before the Crash).
Don’t get me wrong, I am not recovered. So “AD” does not mean that it is in the rear view mirror. The best way I can put it is that I am not the way I used to be. Many things are different. I cannot think of one event in my life that has had such a dramatic impact as this depression that I have been going through over the last (…how long has it been?) six or eight weeks.
I wrote about it a couple of weeks ago in a post titled “Broken.” Since then I have been “in and out” of the hole. I don’t really know how else to put it. I have come to use these terms to describe it: a hole, black hole, spiral, vortex, matrix, ”the darkness”, and black cloud. Some days I am sane and some days I cannot hardly move. Some days I am paralized with fear due to the mere memory of the previous day’s terror and some days I am at no loss for thoughts on how this is making me a better person and how I am going to change the world because of it. Don’t think bi-polar, as my good days are not THAT good. Today has been good. But as the inaguration of AD slowly distances itself from today, even the dark days are more tolerable than they were before.
One thing is for certain, I don’t have half as much figured out as I did in the past. My world is a bit more confused than it used to be. I think this is good and bad. It is bad because it hurts so much. It is good because I hurt so much more for others. I am sure I will have more to say about this soon (on one of the good days).
Seeking counsel is a funny thing. I know what I would have said to someone who came to me with this type of depression before. Now it is all different. I can now divide the world into two types of people: those who have been through this type of depression and those who have not. And you know what? I can now tell within 38 seconds of talking to someone whether they have really been here. Before, I would have empathized. I had been down before. I had been down for days before. Sadness, hurt feelings, insecurity, being overwhelmed, stressed, and even a bit of despair. I knew what they felt like. The depression that I have had for the last three years sitting with my mother was serious enough . . . so I thought. It is different now. This is different.
On Monday afternoon (don’t remember the date) at 12pm after reading a scathing email from one of those who was mad that a Christian like me was asking for money and not trusting in the Lord the way he believed I should, I broke. Now, now . . . it was not really that email that did it. I get those all the time. Have for years. It was simply one of many catalysts that facilitated the crash. This crash was like nothing I had ever experienced. My unfamiliarity with this type of thing multiplied the terror that ensued. Suddenly, at 12:01 I was a different person. I felt like a part of my mind tripped a breaker. It was the part of my mind which kept me in reality. It was the part of my mind which stabilized my emotions. It was the part of my mind that allowed me to deal with sadness, hurt, pain, and grief in a semi-productive manner. The rational side of my mind simply did not work.
It is different now. This has been unlike anything I have ever imagined. It has been more painful than anything I have yet experienced. And if there is something worse, Maranatha, come Lord Jesus. I was watching 24 the other day (on a good day when I can actually enjoy something) and thinking about the torturing of suspects that they always center on. You know, to torture or not to torture for information and confessions. Well, morality and politics aside, I had an epiphany. Don’t shoot them in the knee cap. Don’t tear their finger nails off one at a time. Don’t make them listen to loud annoying music all day. No more wash-boarding. Just inject them with something that makes them severely depressed. Send them into the black hole that I have been in. If you could do that, they will confess and tell all within 3 minutes and 44 seconds. I promise. They would be happy to go to prison for their secret crimes as long as they don’t have to be depressed. It is different now.
Crying. I have rarely cried in my life. It is not something that I am necessarily proud of. It is just the way I am. I figured it showed some emotional strength, but I also knew it was not really a choice. I just did not cry. Now, when I am “there” in the hole I can cry over anything; I do cry over anything. I look at my kids and think that they are just going to grow old and die. What’s it worth? And I cry. I think about writing or teaching and I say to myself, “You don’t have a clue what you are talking about anyway. Why bother?” And I cry. I think about things I enjoyed before and find it utterly depressing to even think about, much less do. And I cry. I even cried about the canceling of 24! (Although, that is legitimate!) I have a constant ringing in my ears that started that Monday. Sleep cannot be a better friend, but I can rarely find it. It was kidnapped from my life the day this began.
And you know what? When I am “there,” there is no way to talk me out of it. There is no way to think yourself out of it. Now I get it. I wish I did not, but I do.
“Snap out of it.” That is what I would say in a frustrated moment to Angie (my sister who killed herself after a 1.5 year battle with depression). I am sorry Angie. I now know you could not “snap” out of it.
Angie’s “fall” was not so much different than mine. In fact, so much of it was just the same. Thursday night she went to bed fine. She was not the emotional type. At least in this way. She was strong and stable. I remember at her wedding seven years before saying a toast where I mentioned that her and I were alike . . . not effected by many things emotionally (I did not know how well that went over with her—that’s why I remember it). She just did not get depressed. At least not significantly. Very strong and very stable. However, that Friday morning she woke up and said that her mind broke and she had gone crazy. I had no idea how to take it, but I knew something had changed in a big way. She was flipping out, trying her best to explain it to all of us. She was continually trying to convince us that she had suddenly gone insane and that it was never going to get better. Monday afternoon, after finding no comfort, she attempted to kill herself the first time.
They say that there is a much higher chance for suicide for those who have had a family member suffer such. I now know why. Not that I have gone there. I have not. But I do know how someone in this state could leave everything behind, even their children, to relieve their pain. I get it now. I did not get it. Now I do.
AD is much different than BC. This much is true. However, this is going to sound really odd (and, mind you, I am writing this on a “good day”), but I don’t really want to go back to BC. I would not wish this upon anyone and I do not necessarily count such an experience as a badge of wisdom, courage, or otherwise. But there is something about this that I need. I say this because I know that God is in control and I sincerely believe that he wants me right here. This is why I have yet to take any anti-depressants, even though they have been suggested to me many times. Please don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for the drugs that can heal the problems of the mind that are outside of people’s control. This qualifies. However, I simply feel like I need to be here. God is sovereign over my depression and my depression is not a sin. I am not saying that if this continues and does not let up that I will not go that direction. I am simply saying that for me, right now, I need the AD. While I don’t understand as much as I used to, this I hold on to with all my strength: God’s sovereignty in this is the only hope that I have. I am certainly not saying “Bring it on Lord!” Please God don’t hear me saying that! I am simply of the opinion (today) that God is working something in me that could not have ever happened outside of this. I am different now. I think it is for the better.
I live in fear of the next day’s weather, but I live in the hope that the forecast is in God’s hands. I will never be back to “normal” as normal finds itself bashful of the work of God in me.
I will give you more updates later. Thank you all so much for your prayers.
- My Depression Nearly Two Years Later
- I am NOT a Depressed Person
- On Losing My Joy
- Dealing With My Depression #1: Muffling Its Voice
- Not Alone