The Detox Diaries: Grayness

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Gentle Reader,

I wondered if it would come.

That sense of sorrow, so deep it crosses into the confusion of numbness. That pain so awful it pushes with a physical ache into my heart.

Depression.

It always lurks, somewhere in my mind. Some call it pessimism, some call it a melancholy personality. It is both and neither. I have to work, every day, to push the grayness out of my eyes and see the sun. Some days the grayness is splotchy and it’s easy to overcome. Other days I feel like I’m trying to look through a blanket. Those days are hard.

As I lay awake in bed last night, trying (unsuccessfully) to get to sleep, the grayness invaded. I was unprepared for the onslaught. My chest hurt. The tears began.

I wasn’t sad about anything. I was just sad. That’s the difference between situational and clinical depression. And before anyone suggests that I need to deal with some sin, trust me: confession is often the first thing that pours from my lips. When there’s nothing to confess and you’re still sad, the only logical conclusion is that the sorrow is not connected to anything in particular.

The sorrow just is.

A few deep breaths and a, “Help me, Jesus!” later, I reminded myself of what was happening in my body. Without the Cymbalta and the hormones, I am, as Jackson Browne puts it, running on empty.  I don’t go back to the doctor until the beginning of August, so I have to ride this roller coaster for another month. Yes, diet and exercise help. Summer is the worst time of year for me (I hate the heat and always have), so I was just telling Chris that I wanted to make sure we get a walk in this evening when it’s a little cooler. I’ll be eating…sigh…avacado as part of my dinner. (Gross). I’m aware of what I can do naturally.

But you’ve got to understand something. All the diet and exercise, and even all the antidepressants and hormones, don’t make this thing go away. The grayness won’t flee because it’s confronted by some Omega-3 rich salmon. The consequence of living in a fallen world is, for me, a broken brain. I am always going to battle depression and anxiety this side of Eternity, unless God sees fit to heal me. Thus far, He hasn’t.

In a way, that’s okay with me. I don’t relish the feeling of my feet being like bricks, so that every step takes monumental effort. I don’t like crying at the drop of a hat. Honestly, though, I’m over the stigma. I really don’t care what anyone thinks about my being depressed and anxious; anyone who wants to give me some input or suggestions may do so, but I’m going to shrug off any negativity or judgment. I refuse to take that in.

You know why? The grayness pushes me toward the Source of all light. I can’t see clearly, I can’t understand rightly, and so I turn to God, time and time again. If this battle is what it takes for me to stick close to Him, then fine. I am His beloved daughter, and He’s happy…no, He’s delighted to have me around. My struggle and need doesn’t surprise Him or put Him off. He’ll gladly hold my hand.

He’ll even carry me when I can’t see to take another step.

My journey to faith. (15)

To read all the posts in The Detox Diaries series, go here.

The Detox Diaries: Hard

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Gentle Reader,

Yesterday’s post has received a number of comments, and I am thankful for the encouragement and the empathy. This life is hard, whether you experience illness and pain or not.

In this particular season, it’s hard for me to get out of bed. It’s hard to sit at my desk and work. It’s hard not to melt into a puddle of mush, complete with big ol’ tears and hilarious, ugly-cry faces. It’s hard to have a headache for 12 days (tomorrow will be 13 if it doesn’t break). It’s hard to have aching joints, itchy skin and sore, lumpy spots on my skull. It’s hard to have to think about every little thing I eat and drink.

But let me tell you something else.

God is good, faithful and true.

I only missed one day of work this month, despite wanting to hide under the covers each day, and that’s because of Him. He gave me the exact amount of strength I needed. I’ve had a hard time sleeping the past couple of weeks, what with a sore back and sore hips, plus a rush of anxiety that never fails to hit when the lights go out. He hears my begging, pleading prayers for relief and brings me peace every time. Barbs of doubt pierce into my heart. He reminds me of truth. I get nauseated; He grants me the ability to breathe deeply and it passes. There really isn’t a day that goes by in which I don’t see His gracious hand moving in my life.

So, yes, this life is hard. I won’t tell you it isn’t. I won’t pretend. Yet somehow, in the hardness, I see God more clearly. I don’t have any choice but to fling myself at His feet. I have to depend on Him for everything. Without Him, without His truth, I will go crazy. All the questions and nausea and pains will get to me and drive me to hopelessness. And hopelessness? It’s soul- (and sometimes body-) killing.

Been there, done that.

I know what will happen to me if I don’t keep myself steeped in the presence and truth of the Lord. I know precisely what choices I’ll make and where they will lead me. Not this time. I don’t want that. Yes, I am frustrated. Yes, there are answers I search for. I work out that frustration in front of Him. I ask Him the questions, knowing that, one day, there will be answers.

His timing and plans are good. Wonderful, even. I stand on that.

My journey to faith. (15)

To read all the posts in The Detox Diaries series, go here.

The Detox Diaries: I’ll Never Be an Academic

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Gentle Reader,

Dude.

I love me a good commentary. I’m really glad that there are people way smarter than me who can help me to understand what a Biblical texts says or means.

But academics think too hard.

And that’s coming from someone who thinks too hard.

I remember having this problem when I was in college, studying theology. I did well in the classes that required a straightforward analysis of the text. Of course this required taking context, both historical and literary into account, but there wasn’t a whole lot of fuss and bother about it. For example, if a Psalm’s superscription read “of David,” then it was either written by David or by a school of musicians who styled themselves after David. No further discussion was necessary.

There were a few classes, however, that were very difficult for me because the thinking I had to do was…fuzzier. That’s the best word I’ve got for it. The words got longer and the concepts loftier. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand the language or the ideas. I did. I still do. It’s that I found the whole thing frustrating. Why take five paragraphs and use words that contain more letters than the alphabet has in total to tell me that Jesus is cool? Why not just say that Jesus is cool?

I didn’t do so good in those classes.

I’m not bashing the academics. We need them. They’re the ones who know the ins and outs of the original languages. They’re the ones who “do” theology. They have gifts and talents from which we can all benefit.  I’m just not one of them, so this blog isn’t going to get “smarter” any time soon. Sorry if you were waiting for that.

To me, “doing” theology and knowing all the right, complicated, Latin- Greek- and Hebrew-derived words doesn’t mean squat if you can’t bring it down to a practical, simple-as-possible level. That’s where I’m living right now. I’m not “doing” theology. I’m “living” theology. Give me the hard-and-fast basics about God, the things I can absolutely count on. I think of my journalism professor, who constantly told his students to cut out the “fluff” and boil the story down to the core. The essence.

There was a time when I enjoyed debating things like Calvinism vs. Arminianism vs. Somewhere-in-the-Middleism. I tried to unravel the mystery of why God created everything in the first place. Maybe I’ll enjoy that kind of stuff again one day, but right now, just tell it to me straight. Tell me about Jesus. I don’t have time or energy for the finer points.

Thankfully, God knows that. He speaks to me rather bluntly. Always has. I don’t experience my relationship with Him as some esoteric thing. He’s to-the-point. He’s direct. What’s funny about this is that I’ve started studying the book of Ezekiel, with it’s freaky-deaky visions and bizarre, symbolic acts. But in all that I see God pointing at His prophet and saying, “This is what’s wrong and this is how it can be fixed.” God cuts through the garbage and gets to the heart of things.

That’s what I want. That’s how I think. That’s how I view life, the universe and everything else. Not that it’s all strictly black-and-white or that many things aren’t hard to understand. Just give me Jesus. Just give me the One who can break through all the chaos and make it all so beautifully neat.

My journey to faith. (15)

To read all the posts in The Detox Diaries series, go here.

The Detox Diaries: Stupid Dumbface

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Gentle Reader,

First things first.

It’s my 8th wedding anniversary today! Woot woot! Let me tell you, God gets all the glory here. Chris and I have gone through some tough times. It’s not all puppies and roses today, but we’ve come so far. Every bit of that is due to the fact that Jesus hasn’t given up on either of us. On the days when quitting seems like an option, He reminds both of us of our vows. He reminds both of us of our love. When that isn’t enough, He lets us throw a big temper tantrum or cry in frustration until we can see the good again.

We celebrated this past weekend with a fantastic home-cooked meal (prepared by Chris; I’m spoiled) and the movie “God’s Not Dead.” There were absolutely some cheese-tastic moments (like, every scene Cassidy Gifford was in), but I really enjoyed it. Tonight he’s at the shelter loving on some little ones and I’m dealing with doggy resentment because they stank to high Heaven and thus suffered the indignity of bath time.

I’m the worst dog mom ever.

I’m also in the throes of a nasty headache, thankfully in the waning moment currently. But that leads me to the title of this piece.

The alarm went off this morning and I was so mad that I had to go to work. Since I’m not supposed to take painkillers, I’m trying really hard to tough this headache out. Slept with a large bag of ice on my head, but that didn’t take away those awful sore, knobby spots across the top. So I couldn’t put my hair up, which is what I usually do when I don’t feel good, so I had to actually style my hair, which was dumb. And it’s raining, so the hair is frizzy. (See the above picture for a point of reference).

Then staring at a computer screen. For 8 hours. Under fluorescent lights.

I mean, come on.

Knowing that I was probably going to bite someone’s head off, I tried to keep speech to a minimum, but I’m guessing my utter lack of patience and caring screamed loudly through my body language. Don’t mess with me. In fact, don’t even talk to me. Just pretend that I’m not even here.

Every noise was like the sound of a burly man pounding on a timpani. Every question was stupid. I tried to listen to the Bible because Max McLean has an awesome voice and Scripture is always comforting, but Ezekiel is just to wild and freaky when you’ve got a migraine. Music was an equally bad idea. But I kept my earbuds in place, hoping that would deter any would-be chatterers.

Please don’t take that the wrong way. The vast majority of the time, I like my coworkers. Just not today. And that wasn’t their fault.

By the time I drove home, I was so tired and frustrated that I went into what my family calls “commute mode.” Not exactly road rage, but more than aggressive driving. Some guy in an annoying little blue car had the nerve to cut me off, so I tailgated him. Perfectly normal. I even came within a hairsbreadth of flipping him off, although I’m never entirely sure which finger is the “bad” one. Thankfully, the Spirit reminded me to breathe and I prayed for the guy in the annoying blue car. It went something like this:

“God, please bless him. Not because I want You to, because I think he’s a twerp. But bless him because You bless me when I’m being an idiot, like he’s being right now. Like I’m being right now. Okay, okay. Bless this guy in this annoying blue car because You’re good and holy and true. You are a good God. You give us what we don’t deserve.”

The guy in the annoying blue car sped away and took some of my anger with him.

I had to pause writing this a minute ago when the doorbell rang and someone from Scott’s Lawn Service informed me that I’ve got Japanese Clover in my front lawn. How annoying. Why are you bugging me? Then she commented that it’s quite wet out and she’s got to work until 8 p.m. The poor woman is stuck walking door-to-door in the rain for another hour. I took her flyer. She took some of my anger with her.

Today was a day of stupid dumbfaces, but maybe I was the worst offender of all. I could have simply told my coworkers that my head hurt. I could have taken my stress to the Lord immediately, instead of letting it build up all day. I certainly didn’t have to tailgate and the people who ring my doorbell are just trying to earn a paycheck so they can feed their families. Nobody actually did anything to me today. It’s not a crime to breathe.

This is the second low-serotonin headache I’ve had since beginning the withdrawal process. It’s different from any I’ve experienced before. I’ve had headaches that last for days, even weeks, behind my eyes for years. I can handle that. I’ve had a few migraines that knocked me out. But this? This is sharp, needle-like pain, poking into the deep recesses of my brain. It makes me restless and extremely short-tempered.

C’mon, body. Let’s be done with this now.

My journey to faith. (15)

To read all the posts in The Detox Diaries series, go here.