The title of this post doesn’t make sense, does it? I had three different ideas for titles and decided to just smush them together:
Like an animal
So, LikDepUnrec. (My version of clickbait.)
Right now, my life doesn’t make much sense, either.
The other day, I weighed myself for the first time in a long time and discovered that I’m just under 160 pounds. I believe this is the lowest I’ve weighed in all of my adult life. (When I was borderline anorexic in college, I think I weighed 170.) I saw myself in the mirror later that day and didn’t recognize myself. For months, my clothes have been very baggy on me, and I’ve had to wear my belt on a tighter notch. Clothes in my closet that were too tight for me are suddenly wearable.
This is all good news, and people tell me that I look good; except if you’ve been following my blog lately, you know that I’ve lost weight due to poverty. (I’ve kept it off with exercise and more poverty.) But looking good isn’t a bad thing. As a 42-year-old woman, I think it’s cool that God has renewed my youth Psalm-103-style so that I feel like I’m in my 20s again.
I feel healthy, but not all the time.
A few weeks ago, I had a strange health scare. For several days in a row, the limbs on the right side of my body felt tingly and numb, as if they were falling asleep. At first, I thought maybe I was having a heart attack or a stroke. Then I wondered if it was a version of restless leg syndrome due to high blood pressure.
Whatever it was, it was uncomfortable and scary, and it almost felt like I was becoming paralyzed. It affected how I walked, typed, and gripped my pen to write. I didn’t visit a doctor due to lack of applicable health insurance, but I am 100% better now.
While I was going through it and praying for myself, I felt like God said that I was stressed and tired (due to a ridiculously crazy schedule at the time), so I treated myself by resting. God also told me something profound: “You can’t expect to live through what you’ve lived through and it not to affect you physically.”
Indeed. I think it’s affected me emotionally as well.
“Thus my heart was grieved, and I was vexed in my mind. I was so foolish and ignorant; I was like a beast before You.” (Psalm 73:21-22)
Lately, I’ve often felt more like an animal than a human being. As I’ve struggled to just make it and survive, I feel triumphant, and yet I don’t really feel like I’m living much differently than a stray animal in the street. I feel like with each passing month, I have to find something new to live without just to make ends meet. (For example: For a period of time this summer, instead of eating a sandwich for lunch with bologna and bread, I ate a sandwich/taco thing with part of a Slim Jim and one or more corn tortillas. I do not recommend the latter unless you are otherwise starving.)
But I’m amazed at how simple acts of humanity can suck the animalistic-ness out of me. All it takes is one thoughtful friend to say something like, “Hey, I’m trying to get rid of some extra food, and I know you could use some,” and I feel human again.
So, I don’t think it’s a mystery as to why I’ve been dealing with depression... again.
I’m REALLY glad I’ve overcome depression in the past, because I know how to fight it. And I know how to deal with it when I feel too weak to fight it. For me, I know that it isn’t a formula. Sometimes it’s spiritual warfare, and I ask God to inflict the same punishment on them that they intended for me. (They’re demons. There’s no need to be nice to them.) Sometimes I listen to praise/worship music. One night, I felt like I needed a very deep cry, so I dug out my journal (which I rarely write in anymore) and I wrote in it as a way of pouring out my heart to God.
Incidentally, pouring out my heart to God is how I usually end up getting out of a depression. It’s a way to untangle the internal knots, and it’s a way to connect with God... which is what the devil tries to prevent us from doing in the first place.
Sometime last year, God told me something else that was profound: “When you have a bad day and you don’t talk to Me about it, it insults Me.” The tone in His voice wasn’t condemning or shaming. He was just talking to me like a concerned Friend or Father, maybe whose feelings I had accidentally hurt, as if He were saying something like, “Hey, I heard you were in trouble. Why didn’t you call Me? I would have helped you.”
I’ve remembered that. So, if I’m struggling during my day with depressed, angry, hopeless, or just otherwise crazy-bad thoughts, I won’t vent on Facebook or text a friend like I used to do. I’ll try to remember to talk to God about it first. Then we’ll work through it together. Sometimes He’ll speak something profound right away, and I’ll feel better quickly. Other times, I’ll spend a large portion of the day venting to Him, maybe whining like a little girl; He’ll listen, correct me, listen some more, and speak some wisdom that I desperately need in my situation. We’ll bond. We’ll build relationship. We’ll enjoy some intimate time together. And THEN, if I feel like it, I’ll talk about it to a friend or maybe write about it on social media (including this site right here). But that’s just my new process.
The classic definition of depression is “anger turned inward.” If I keep the angry stuff that’s been churning inside me just on the inside, it can fester and become depression. Or if I’m constantly discouraged, it can become depression. Either way, it’s important to keep the flow going -- pouring out my heart to God, especially the anger -- or I’m in trouble.
The other day, I was fighting suicidal thoughts... again. I thought I was done with that crap. But the way that it hit me and suddenly spiraled downward reminded me of another time that I was fighting similar thoughts. I think it has something to do with my financial situation and the feeling of hopelessness attached to it.
I don’t mean to dishonor anyone when I talk about this, but just to be honest -- I also think perhaps these particular suicidal thoughts are rooted in at least one conversation that occurred while I was in my mother’s womb. It involved a certain impoverished couple who were faced with the news that they were expecting a baby, and an idea was presented to them that the pregnancy could possibly be terminated. I wonder if perhaps this couple did not dismiss this idea appropriately. I wonder if perhaps a certain impoverished college student considered his offspring to be an inconvenient financial burden. And I wonder if perhaps a certain part of my soul has believed the lie that the termination of life would be a convenient way to solve the problem of poverty.
That is why I need psychotherapy... again. I’m looking forward to getting some professional help sorting through this kind of thing.
Over the past several months, I’ve felt anger and bitterness churning inside me, and they would bubble out in ways that would embarrass me and hurt people. They still have been, and I’ve been working through that. But it looks like now is another time in my life to intensely work through something that just needs to be taken care of. You can’t sweep stuff like this under the rug. If you do, it’ll just balloon out of control, and the next thing you know, you’ve got a huge monster that’ll threaten to eat you alive. Along with everyone else around you.
Overcoming depression. Let’s do this... again.
This time around has been interesting so far. I’ve noticed things about myself that this year of brazenness has created in me. I think I’m fiercer than I’ve ever been in my entire life. For example, I’ve caught myself killing bugs with my bare hands, like a cat would. Why reach for a Kleenex or a napkin? Just aim your hand at the intruder and THWACK, all gone. (I sort of do spiritual warfare like that, too. Maybe that’s one reason why the devil hates me?)
I feel the need to talk about something obvious. I’m on a worship team where they point a camera at me while I sing into a microphone. I smile, I dance, I praise God, and I encourage everyone in the room to join me. How could I possibly be depressed if I look so happy? Well, I think the Bible says it best...
“In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)
I really AM happy when I’m on the worship platform. I’m in God’s presence. I also feel right at home. The way I see it, God is my Father; if church is His house, then the worship platform is like His living room. We host guests, we enjoy His company, and we bond over special moments. I’m in His family, so I belong there. I’m at peace there, even in the midst of the battle.
And one reason why I’ve broadcast all of this personal information on here is, of course, because I like to slice my soul open from time to time and let you have a looksee. (Not to mention, mental health has been in the news a lot this year, so I don’t think it hurts to share my two cents about it.) Another reason is because the worship platform is a crazy-interesting place where you get to show people what it’s like to live out a dream. When you’re in the congregation, it’s easy to think that the people who are singing into the microphones have perfect lives. Um, no. Far from it. I think maybe one reason why God lets us hold microphones is to show the devil, “Hey, remember her? You tried to take her out, but she’s still here.”
I think maybe another reason why God puts people like me on a platform is so that He can gently nudge somebody and say, “See? If she can do it -- if that crazy woman who’s going through psychotherapy for the third time can put herself out there and worship Me with every fiber of her being -- so can you.”
Because He’s worthy... always.