by C Michael PattonJanuary 5th, 2012 42 Comments
It is hard to believe it has been so long.
Two years ago my mind broke. I wrote about it while in the darkness. I can’t believe it has been two years. No, no. This is not a “recovery letter.” This is not a testimony of victory. You know, a testimony: where I was before, what happened that changed me, and how great things are now. I don’t have too many of those. This is simply a journal of my depression, two years after it began.
It is important to note that the darkness is no longer there. It lasted for a time, but the clouds broke and the black hole of sadness has lost much of its gravitational pull. Or maybe I have just learned how to cope. I don’t really know. I had a lot more answers three years ago than I do today. I am stable, yet somehow not so stable. Before I went through this depression, I prided myself on how emotionally stable I was. Well, maybe “prided” is not really the right word. I am not trying to be too self-debasing, so let me say this: I was thankful about how nothing could break me emotionally. A hard marriage, the loss of my sister, and the paralysis of my mom were no match for me. But suddenly, without warning, it broke. My mind broke. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it was the pain meds I was taking for my back. Maybe it was just that so much had built up in my life. Maybe it was missing some bill payments for the first time in my life. Whatever the case, something broke. For six long weeks I entered into a vortex of darkness and “other-worldliness” that, in my own thoughts, rivaled whatever hell must be like. For six long weeks I felt what my sister felt that eventually took her life. For six long weeks I had no wisdom, knowledge, or hope that could lend a helping hand. For six long weeks I finally learned what it meant to be depressed.
Two years later I walk with a limp. I respect depression. I fear what the mind can actually do to a person. What an incredible thing to know, that things can fall apart so dramatically without my action or consent playing a conscious role. “Bring it” is not something I say to depression. Two years later I am like a glass that has been broken and glued back together. I have hope again. I can smell again. I can notice things again. I see colors and people walking around like trees. But I don’t think my sight has fully returned and I don’t know if it ever will. I can walk again, but the angel touched my hip and I can’t walk so well.
Two years later, there are still times when driving down the road, playing a video game with my kids, or drinking a Coke out of a bottle, I notice that recovery is ongoing. “Oh, yeah,” I say to myself. “That is what it is like to notice good things.” During these times I want to call out to God and say, “Time out!” Whatever made me notice again what I had previously taken for granted needs to find its way to the shelves of the store.
Two years later I know there are places I cannot go in my mind. Two years later I look through the peep-hole in the door of my emotions before I let anything in. Two years later I long for a glory that knows no tears in a way I had not longed before. Two years later I am stable but scared. Scared that it might happen again. Two years later, my heart does not know how to respond to others who are groping for hope in a dark mind. I want to grab their depression by the neck and kill it, burn it, smash it, and choke it. I hate it.
Many end these type of messages with the “But I am glad I went through this” type stuff. My sister says she is glad I went through it. Okay, fine. Gotcha. Neat. But I don’t know if I am. I think I would rather not live with the haunting memory of that time. At least not now. To know that this actually exists in this world . . . Really? That? Torture, hunger, blindness, poverty, even holocaust are things I gawked at before. But depression is from a planet I could not imagine existed. A dark planet. A cold and lonely planet that no telescope can see, no pictures can describe, for which no analogy can be found. It only exists in theory before you have been there. But I think I would have rather seen it through the telescope. When I returned from that world, a part of me was left behind. I think I would rather not have had that passport stamped.
But I serve a God who is sovereign and does not have the word “meaningless” in any dictionary he has signed. In this, I suppose, you can pull my teeth until I say, “Okay, it was good for me to go there. Better to go to the house of mourning than the house of feasting. Okay. Yeah, okay.” In glory, you will not have to pull my teeth to say this. But for now, you still do.
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- After Depression: An Update on My Broke Mind
- Not Alone
- On Losing My Joy