Living in Darkness
I want to share something with you. Two weeks ago my GP diagnosed me with depression.
We can’t control how we feel and the thoughts we get. The average person will typically have more than 6,000 thoughts in a single day, and the brain can process these thoughts. However, I wasn’t able to think straight because of certain things that had happened and I wasn’t in control of it.
This goes back to Autumn’s Synod in the London District. I put my name down to attend the Methodist Conference as a presbyter. The London District had two spaces for Presbyters and three applied. I came third and the other two Presbyters were chosen fairly. Some reading this might think this is trivial and it’s only a conference but don’t forget we can’t control our thoughts because we average about 3000 thoughts per hour or 50 per minute, just under one per second.
I have taken this badly. I struggle with ministers who have attended the Methodist Conference before because it stops other ministers like me from going for the first time. I struggled that Helen would be away at a conference on my birthday. I felt rejected and let down by a denomination I’ve worked for since 2008 as a lay worker and ordained minister. The thought of spending my birthday alone with family living miles away made me feel lonely and unloved. I have decided to attend the conference at my own expense. At least I get to spend time with Helen.
This was only the beginning.
When looking back, things were happening, and I felt doors were closing in my face. During Holy Week, I witnessed losses that included saying goodbye and a death. I was worried about losing the people I loved. Who would be next?
I also felt that social media was making me feel anxious. We are more connected than ever, but we are more lonely. Sometimes we worry more about the relationships on our screens than the people we have physically around us.
Questions and doubts came to my head; am I good enough? Do people love me?
This last month I have felt like I’m in a black hole and I don’t feel myself. Darkness is scary! I have felt rejected, unwanted, lonely, unloved, and useless. I feel worried about things out of my control.
On the cross, Jesus cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Matthew 27:46 & Mark 15:34). Jesus’ cry from Psalm 22 would have been of a suffering Savior facing death for the most noble cause. These words by Jesus have been such a comfort to me because I felt distant and forgotten and I’m trying my very best to get out of this hole.
Sadly, there is a stigma when it comes to depression in our churches. People think as a Christian, we should always be smiling because we have Jesus on our side. People look at me as a minister thinking I should always be alright because I have a direct call to God, but if only they knew. I have often cried out “Where are you, God”. A minister devotes themselves to giving so much of their time to people and we get called for having time off or if we are off sick. The church can be a lonely place if you suffer from depression. We need to do more work on Mental Health in our churches.
Helen recently gave me a book called ‘Honesty, Over Silence’ by Patrick Regan. Patrick has recently suffered from depression. In his book, he mentions a blog post called 10 lies depression tells us. Here are the ten:
- Depression tries to convince us that we are not ill.
- Depression tells us that everything is our fault.
- Depression tells us that nobody cares about us or likes us
- Depression tells us that we’re not good enough.
- Depression tells us we don’t deserve things.
- Depression tells us that we’re a bad person.
- Depression tells us to be quiet.
- Depression tells us that we’re a burden.
- Depression tells us that we don’t deserve help and support.
- Depression tells us there is no hope.
I can relate to these 10.
I was going through all the emotions, crying, quiet, not feeling myself, fed up, and distant. On my worst days, I thought everyone would be better off If I wasn’t here. I know this isn’t true, but that’s how I felt and sometimes we are not in control of what the mind tells us.
I’m on antidepressants and getting the correct support. I want to do this blog to share that it’s OK not to be OK. The best thing that we can do is reach out to each other. I hope by doing this blog will help. From now on I will sharing on my blog about each of these triggers.
Thank you for understanding.