Tag Archives: sadness

63: Depressed

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Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 43:5 NIV

I’m very down today. There are a lot of problems in my life and I can’t see past them for now. I’m not even able to enjoy or rejoice in the good things, and the small joys that usually lift me are leaving me cold. Everything seems dark and pointless, as though a greyness of muddy cloud were overhead, recolouring the emotional landscape. Not like a dark cloud or a storm, because that would feel dramatic, with the possibility of some clearance in the offing, a feeling of ions strengthening in power and looking for a way to discharge. No, it is not like that, this clouding. It is a dulling, a numbing of the joy which normally wells up deep inside. I can’t always feel it, but I know that the joy of the Lord is my strength, and so it is today, I am sure and certain of it, I just can’t access it. There is a barrier, a swathing, like my heart is wrapped tight in misery and entombed somewhere unreachable. There is no rolling this stone away today.

Like bad weather, this day will have to be waited out. It will move on, it will pass. And in the mean time, I pray, I talk to my heavenly father about how I’m feeling, ask him to help me, knowing that it won’t always feel like this, that the stony weight in my chest will begin to feel less heavy at some point. I am fortunate, I know, that my depressions are now circumstantial. I very rarely get low with no discernible reason, as those poor souls with clinical depression do. I can point to the things that are crushing my spirits, I can name them and pray about them.

Some people call depression a black dog, picturing it as a shadowy creature that follows them around and comes and goes seemingly at its own behest, without reference to their own wishes or commands. The best thing we can do for those under his paw is to offer understanding, empathy, space. To listen, to hold (if we are nearest and dearest), to believe and take seriously the huge suffering taking place. When you are depressed, you can’t be “cheered up” as you can if you are just a little low. You can’t “pull yourself together” because all the pieces are scattered.

Going for a little walk, getting some fresh air, or some sunshine – all popular advice from those around us at these times – is not going to cut it. We don’t need others to try and lift us out of the perceived hole in the ground, we need others to sit quietly with us down there. Listening is one of the best things a good friend can do, and that is why I feel it is okay to tell God just how I’m feeling and why, even though some of it sounds petulant or irrational, there is a great deal of real misery with good reason, and who should I speak to about it but the one who made me, who loves me and who will hold me until I come out the other side again? Yes, in him I will put my hope, I will think of the tears as hopeful and not hopeless, despite how they feel.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay

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36: Lament

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I will weep and wail for the mountains and take up a lament concerning the wilderness grasslands. They are desolate and untraveled, and the lowing of cattle is not heard. The birds have all fled and the animals are gone.” Jeremiah 9:10 NIV

 

Laments are something we don’t really do in the western northern hemisphere any more. I think this speaks volumes about the illusions we surround ourselves with. We seem to think that because we have more that we feel less. We seem to understand the world and our emotions in terms of satisfied stomachs and libidos, instead of realising that our hearts are deeper and more easily affected than that.

There are a lot of things to lament, and the loss of wildlife, as in the prophecy above, might well be one of them. Our so-called progress has come at a very high price. We might then, sing or pen a lament about the cruelty to animals, the intensivity of farming or consumer culture, or the oppression of the poor that marks our modernity. We might, in the UK today, sing a lament about the way the junior doctors and the NHS are being treated by the government, or about the rise in use of food banks, or about the refugee crisis.

We need also to sing personal laments, songs of our own misery, not to wallow in the sadness, but to express it. We all have griefs in our lives, and our society does not teach us what to do with them. Some will affect us for the rest of our lives, a loss, a bereavement, an assault, these are things that should be lamented, for those powerful emotions stuffed back down inside will squash our inner selves and suffocate the joy that longs to well up to counter them.

Lamenting is healthy and about giving voice to truth. The Psalms teach us the very best ways to lament, for even in desolate sadness they always come back to a hope in the Living God. Our feelings must never rule us on their own, they need to be tempered by reason and love. This is precisely why they need expression. Our stiff upper lips need permission to wobble a bit and let go. There is no sense in pretending all is well, no medals in life given out for telling everyone everything is going swimmingly when you feel like you are drowning. Let it out, let it go, express it, hear it, learn from it. Repeat if necessary, whenever you feel overwhelmed, especially if you are grieving, which is a never-ending process in many ways. But like breath, don’t hold it in.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

public domain photo, the Wailing Wall, Jerusalem

163: Pothole

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Collapsed under the sheer weight of traffic, implosion caused by heavy loads that were never yours to bear, not for you to carry, even for that one moment in which they passed over, rumbling in thundering juggernauts. Now you stand, cracked and broken, dug out to the composite core, fissures filling with rainwater, and see no way out. There is no budget for repairs, no end to the emptiness, and you sink down and spread out in your misery, and even your edges are lost to you.

Road pock now avoided by all, leper of the lane, I pray might you now find a calm in the centre of the highway that you grace. Might you now relax into your frayed borders, new crow’s feet cracks forming as you take the time to laugh in the rain. Might you now, perhaps, sometimes sing of what lies beneath the smoothness and teach all of us how to make ponds and gardens out of the sinkholes in our lives.

 

© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2016