**I wrote this a few weeks ago during a relapse in my depression and anxiety. It’s a touch snarkier than usual and raw. But sometimes honesty is all we have.**
Switched meds on Tuesday. I was only on a very low dose of anti-anxiety medicine but because the anxiety had become so severe, my psychiatrist was curious if there was an underlying mood disorder. And with my family history of bipolar, would anyone be surprised? No. So, onto a mood stabilizer I go.
That was a Tuesday night. By Thursday, not only do I have nary a smidge of a relief from anxiety, all my depressive symptoms are back.
And by all, I mean all, expressed through rage and all-encompassing despair. I poorly predicted how low long it would take for a pork loin and some veggies to cook in the oven, and when I pulled them out almost entirely raw after, the world ended. Flames raged out the window. Sirens blared, windows crashed.
I tried to recover and went to yoga as planned but hated everyone, every second. The instructor chose very un-yoga-esque music to accompany our practice and she kept mixing up her rights and lefts, and I hated her for it. I hated the random dude in front of me who had approximately two percent balance, and I hated the lady next to me who flailed her arms like a crane on crack at the slightest change in asana, and I definitely hated the beautiful girl with perfect poses dead center. Give me a break. (And let it be known, all four of those humans are wonderful and kind and I am the broken one, at least the one with broken vision for the time being…)
You see? Within 24 hours, the medicine we had hoped would stabilize this crazy roller coaster of anxiety had not only left the anxiety untouched, it reversed what the TMS machine had been able to accomplish a year ago in putting my depression into remission. Thursday night, I fought back ideation, dark thoughts of hopelessness, and worthlessness, and general despair.
And there it was, a random article in my feed (well, I say “random” but with the number of Google searches I’ve been doing about anxiety and depression and a sundry of mental illnesses, there ain’t no random in my news feed). Anyway, it was one of those lovely articles about anxiety, written by someone who loves Jesus very much…and who I very much wanted to strangle. With these hands right here, the ones typing this. Because the article said what most articles of this genre say: Anxiety is hard. Depression is hard. But then, I kid you not, within three lines, the author already had the “light breaking through the darkness.”
Now, let’s be clear. I like light. Ask my eternally patient husband how much his prone-to-depression wife loves light as he follows me around turning off every light in the house I have left on.
But, the author’s light felt false. Because, forgive me if this has not been the case for you, light is elusive. Light is slippery. Light slides out of view right when you thought you had it cornered. Unlike darkness. The darkness can persist. It is sticky, like too wet dough or the molasses on the jar lid. I can’t get there in three lines. From light to dark. It feels dishonest.
But, the article got worse. The well-intentioned author (I’m making some generous assumptions on paper that I do no feel in my heart right now…) went on to highlight all the ways in which anxiety is ungodly and inconsistent with trust in God. Because that’s what gets me through a tough bout with depression: a thick schmear of spiritual shame, right on top. Delightful.
She went on to talk about the ways in which God has brought about good from her anxiety and offers some verses to offer words of comfort to the anxious and hurting. And I appreciate that.
But I also strain against it. I strain against the implied shame, the implied “you’re just not doing it right” suggestion lists. I find myself internally thrashing against this poor, innocent blogger, just trying to put a good word out in the world, because I hurt so deeply.
And I cannot get from darkness to light in 3 lines.
So, please don’t. You with your encouraging memes and verse calligraphy. I’ll get there, eventually. But today, I am sitting in ashes, with sores and wounds, with twisted vision, waiting for the light. It will come, as surely as the dawn. But in the meantime, I refuse to pretend.
Come Lord Jesus. And bring a flashlight.
In case anyone should think depression is a romantic, existential crisis, let this picture disabuse you of that notion right now. It hurts.