“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.
Photo from Pixabay