For several weeks, I feel like I am in a slow-motion time warp – everything around me is moving at regular speed, and I am moving through glass, seeing everything flash by while I fight to just get one foot in front of the other. I honestly felt so defeated after fighting with my tiny human about tooth brushing tonight, that I just sat down and cried. Because everything feels like a fight. I’m spinning my wheels in so many places in my life, that the only thing moving me forward right now may be time itself. As in, I have to have the tiny human at school next week, on time, and it’s just a matter of the calendar. That happens on Wednesday whether I’m ready or not. Tomorrow will come because time is moving at regular speed whether I move or not.
I can feel the depression brain whispering that I should just give up because I’m not accomplishing anything I’ve set out to do, and no amount of work is making a dent in the house getting cleaned. No amount of work is going to get me caught up at work or on my writing or on the dozens of projects dawdling in craft purgatory on my dining room table or on getting back in shape or…. The list feels infinite, and I feel incapable and overwhelmed. Depression brains tells me to just sit down and eat, maybe watch some television or go to bed.
I recognize that depression brain is a liar. I’m not stuck, and I’m not incapable of change or progress. Depression brain is literally a voice from hell, and tonight, it felt like Satan himself was whispering to my soul. The difference in tonight and so many other times is that I could see it for it was: a lie designed to stop me. Stop me from what? I’m not sure exactly. I don’t know if it’s pride or just the same clarity of vision that told me tonight’s depression brain was whispering directly from Hell itself, but I feel like it was to try to stop me from writing. I have had a gazillion important things to get done that have taken my focus and time away from writing. The time warp is happening because I am overwhelmed by the things that keep stacking up on me at home and at work. Satan doesn’t want me to move, which must mean that God has something important for me to do, someone important for me to reach. I have no idea what that is or who that will be, but I do know that if I sit down and eat and shut off my brain, I won’t be doing anything except dying slowly and painfully and miserably in the clutches of depression brain.
That won’t be happening tonight because God heard me when I cried out to him and showed me the truth that depression brain is a liar and that I can get up and get moving. It still hurts like hell. I want to quit, and I want to move forward. Right now I want to move forward more, but that doesn’t stop the part of me that wants to quit. No matter how badly I want to ignore depression brain and just get going, it’s still there, and I still have to fight it every day. I want to fight, and I need to fight. I also desperately need to remember that I’m not fighting alone because God is with me, in me, and fighting for me. He has already won the only battle that matters, but this battle is still important to him because I am important to him. Tonight I could see that this particular battle with depression brain was a spiritual one.
If you have read much of anything I’ve published on the blog, you know that I am not often going to speak about spiritual warfare because it sounds a little crazy, and we humans, especially church attending humans, tend to give the devil a little more credit than the devil is due by attributing everything negative to spiritual warfare. I’m also never, ever going to say that depression is a spiritual battle than one can overcome with enough prayer and faith – that is malarkey on a level I can’t express with mere words. God can absolutely heal anyone of any disease, but he most often doesn’t without the use of earthly medical interventions.
If you have depression, you are not suffering with the disease because you weren’t faithful enough. You may or may not be able to pray hard enough to get over your depression, just as someone with cancer probably won’t merely pray and be made healthy. I do believe that illness of every kind exists because the world fell into sin with Adam and Eve, and we will only be made whole and healthy in the presence of God. So very clearly understand that not all of my depression has been this “easy” to fight. God gave me the tools to get to a healthier place through counseling, medicine, and strong relationships, and those are the tools that made it possible for me to see Satan at work on me tonight.
It’s not overstating it to say that he was the voice in my head telling me to just give up. I would be overstating his power if I decided to listen and quit. Once I could see the truth, the decision was mine and Satan’s power was gone, even if I made the wrong choice. I would certainly have been enlarging his influence over my depression brain if I gave up, but I couldn’t have said, “The devil made me do it.” I’ve given up plenty of times. Only recently do I seem to be standing up more quickly more often.
I wish with all my heart that God would take my depression brain completely out; just take it away. Haven’t I dealt with it long enough? This turmoil is so painful, and I don’t make excellent decisions when I’m feeling wounded. I eat too much. I get cranky with the people I love. I stop writing. I stop arting. Sometimes I physically ache. But sometimes I win. I write. I paint. I laugh with the people I love and hug them tight. I exercise and eat normal human portions. I talk to God and listen to him. I’m actually off my antidepressant and not wanting to kick people in the shins all the time.
I know that I will struggle with depression all my life. It’s not because I wasn’t well loved as a child, or because I’m not well loved now, or because some need isn’t being met. None of that is true. I have a chronic mental illness that flares up from time to time but is generally under control now – as long as I keep doing the work to keep me in good mental health. It may at some point in the future require medication again. I can beg God all I want to miraculously take it from me, but I know he won’t. He will provide me with the tools, and he will give me flashes of clarity like he did tonight when I need to see a glimpse of him – to just hold on to the hem of his robe for a moment, as it were. I saw tonight, heard it almost as clearly as if he had spoken the words out loud: my path is to continue to stand up and fight and to keep writing about it.
Years ago I heard him speak the same thing to me in the midst of all of our pregnancy losses, “I can give you what you want now, or you can wait and have exactly what I planned for you.” We have the most amazing tiny human now, and if you’ve ever met her, you know she is something incredible. I don’t know where this path ends exactly, but I trust God to take me to something greater than I could ever have imagined for myself.
If you have depression, how does your depression brain lie to you? Maybe you don’t struggle with depression but you’ve felt like something drags you down, too. What do you struggle with? What things hold you back? How do you recognize that depression brain or whatever is holding you back is lying to you? Do you trust God to fight for you and to lead you to something incredible? If not, what do you think it would take for you to move forward? If you don’t want to comment here but need a friendly pair of eyes to “listen” as you work some of those things out, my inbox is always open at firstname.lastname@example.org.