There is a secret carried by many, many Christians. I know that many is the correct term, because I, personally, hear from such a large number of them. That secret is depression. We’re depressed. Not blue. Not in need of a spa day or a good night’s sleep. Depressed. At times, we’re even suicidal. We cry ourselves to sleep at night and can think of no good reason to get up in the morning (even though there always are good reasons). This depression is not lessened, somehow, by the fact that we know Jesus. Actually, it’s amplified, because we know that our depression is selfish and inwardly focused. We know that depression is diametrically opposed to our God and our salvation.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
But we don’t always feel that way. And when we don’t feel that way, we’re flooded by thoughts of guilt.
For me, my two battles with depression have both been initiated by something big. My first battle began in my late teens after a few years of suffering from a painful and debilitating illness. I have a fairly decent pain tolerance, it seems…both for physical and emotional pain. But once I lose my footing and succumb to the waves, I find it very difficult to get back up. At that time, depression climaxed in a downed handful of little blue pills. God saved my life that night without so much as a trip to the hospital, and I wasn’t surprised. Deep down, I think I knew that I wasn’t swallowing enough to kill me. Maybe I hoped that an ER run would reveal the weakness that I was carefully bred not to speak about. But a quick meeting of my head with the toilet solved the problem, quietly and discretely, and I continued to hold my desperation to myself. I eventually surfaced from the waves, just a very short time before God chose to heal me, in fact. And I’ve had little more than a really bad day, maybe even “a really rough week,” until just a few months ago.
About two months ago, maybe closer to three, I went underwater. I didn’t see it coming, as I’d had days of bobbing and thrashing but had always found my footing in Christ and had never fully submerged. But after several weeks of drowning and yet somehow remaining alive, I feel that the only thing left to do is to talk about it. So here I am.
Yesterday, I woke up sick. I decided to drive the kiddos the forty-five minutes to McDonald’s as a way of saving all of our lives. I’m exaggerating of course, but only slightly, because my mothering style could have been described as monstrous. A straight jacket or a seat belt, sometimes their uses are the same.
I ended up driving all over town because I was determined to find dressers for my bedroom. I didn’t find anything in my price range, but I did succeed in wearing myself out and coveting some really gorgeous antique pieces that I never even knew I wanted.
Before McDonald’s, we stopped by Wal-Mart. I snapped and growled in front of perfect strangers for the first time in my entire parenting life. And I wasn’t even embarrassed…though I was having an out of body experience and yelling, “WHAT is wrong with you?!?” down at the weary mother whose face closely resembled what I’ve always imagined I’d look like around sixty.
Of course, the faster I approached insanity, the more my children scattered in different directions and transformed into the children that I’ve often witnessed in Wal-Mart but have never had the distinct displeasure of escorting. By the time we reached McDonald’s, I was parking and entering for one reason and one reason alone: iced, sugary coffee.
I pointed the kids in the direction of the PlayPlace, and I went to the counter to order parfaits and chicken nuggets. There were a couple of people ahead of me in line, and about the time it was my turn, I turned toward the glass to see Baby Bear, one shoe off and one shoe on, tugging at his diaper and yelling, “Poopoo! I have to go poo poo!”
He’s not completely potty trained, but he has developed an understanding and excitement for the potty treat. I ran to him, hoping I’d made it in time. He was still screaming and not stinking; so, I scooped him up and ran him toward the bathroom. There was a sign on the door indicating that it was out of order. This caused me to panic, because the other bathrooms are not in view of the PlayPlace. All of the big kids were inside the tubes, so I made a quick decision and I ran toward the back of the restaurant.
As it turned out, those seconds of agonizing were for naught, because all of the bathrooms were out of order. The manager approached me and explained that someone had hit the water main and there wasn’t any water. No water. No bathrooms. No coffee. No soda. No happiness.
I carried Baby Bear back to the PlayPlace, and I sat down on the playground floor. He begged me to take him to the bathroom, but because I was unsure of how far I’d have to drive to find a working one, I begged him to go in his diaper. Tears ran down my face as I repeatedly offered him a potty treat for not going in the potty.
A happy woman seated directly across from my meltdown explained that her two year old daughter was in the same boat. Her daughter was not panicking, however. The woman handed me a postcard for her church on her way out the door. Being witnessed to has a funny way of making you feel terrible about yourself…when you’ve been a Christian for nearly thirty years. Still, I was grateful that someone was in McDonald’s doing right.
I don’t know what it’s going to take to snap me out of this spiral, but I think admitting that it’s happening is probably key. This morning, I scrubbed down my entire kitchen and I didn’t sleep as late as I could have.
Perhaps confession and old fashioned bootsrap pulling will do some good.