I knew she was struggling with minor forms of depression. Then I knew it was getting worse and the medications were increased and then she was not responding well to any medication or other help.
Today I learn she has been on medical leave from work for the last several weeks and in a very special program at the hospital. This large and reputable hospital takes only three cases per month and my sister-in-law was accepted.
A major part of the treatment is electroshock therapy, plus a lot of other care. She is able to stay at home, but things are very hard for her and her family.
My brother-in-law is hopeful. He has seen improvements but it will be around Christmas before the doctors can determine to what extent she has benefited from the program.
I'm experiencing quite a few emotions since I received the news.
Partly, I feel sad. Such a bright, intelligent, and beautiful person simply racked with tremendous pain.
Partly, I feel scared. I fear that I may one day be overcome by the same thing. I'm more hopeful than I have been in the last few years. But, my fear is that the darkness will return with greater strength as the years and decades progress. I hope not but...
And partly I feel angry. I hate this crap.
I thankful for my psychologist, psychiatrist, pastor, and friends, but I remember where I've come from. I know the difference between a bad day and a disease ridden mind that cannot cope with most situations.
I'm most especially thankful that I have a Savior who was tempted in every way, even forsaken by His Father, but through it all did not despair. All that He did for me, my sister-in-law, and a great many others.
I've been sticking to a fairly stable daily itinerary recently.
A little work. A little conversation with my wife. A little play with kids. A little progress on a few household projects. A little time to read a few books. A little bit to eat. A little exercise. A little rest.
I've been expecting to fatigue and need several days downtime. But it hasn't happened.
I have to say I feel a little better than I did a few weeks ago.
My brain doesn't feel as broken. Nor my body quite as fatigued.
The only out of the ordinary thing that happened today was that I received a phone call from a friend during the lunch hour. Thanks friend. You know who you are. Let's talk again soon. It made my day.
It's what I knew all along. But somehow when a professional gives a diagnosis after hours of testing over several weeks it is not the news I wanted to hear. There is more to the diagnosis but they are just details to be addressed over time.
I am use to trying to tell other people I have a problem and getting nowhere. I can still moderately function. I can give a positive impression when I want to or on a good day. But I think it is similar to an alcoholic who can still go to work and pay the bills. It doesn't mean he doesn't have a problem, it just means that he can still go to work and pay the bills.
Now the tables are turning for me. My psychologist raised the issue of suicide to a higher awareness. She asked me to be aware of dark thoughts and death thoughts and their frequency. We talked about that a bit. Dark thoughts are common. Death thoughts are not. If anything I am afraid of being pulled into rationalizing away self-harm/death thoughts like happened to me several years ago. I didn't hurt myself but scared myself that I could.
I am still trying to line up a psychiatrist. I had a short but wonderful conversation with an intake nurse referred to me. She asked me a few questions but was so positive. I couldn't get to see a doctor until after the new year but gave me several names of good psychiatrists in the area.
"You are going to feel so much better!" She was so positive and encouraging. She gave me hope.
I have heard there is such a thing as a cure to depression. It takes effort. It takes time. But it is possible.
I want to know and experience that kind of hope.
Strange emotions have hit me since the diagnosis last Friday. I have a greater hope for healing than I have ever had before and yet that great hope is coupled with a great fear. Fear of the unkown. Fear that I will never feel better. Fear that as I get older this will get worse and worse. Yet like I said before I have never been so hopeful either.
I am being cared for by very competent people. I don't have to convince them what I'm going through. They listen and are supportive. They break problems into smaller chunks and provide realistic options for me.
Listen, then, to what we are saying to you in God’s name; Rejoice in Christ, who is your gracious Lord and Redeemer. Let him bear your burdens, for he assuredly cares for you, even if you do not yet have all that you would like. He still li.ves. Look to him for the best. This is the greatest sacrifice in his eyes, for as the Scriptures say, no sacrificing is more pleasing and acceptable than a cheerful heart that rejoices in the Lord.
When you are sad, therefore, and when melancholy threatens to get the upper hand, say: “Arise! I must play a song unto the Lord on my regal (be it the Te Deum laudamus or the Benedictus), for the Scriptures teach us that it pleases him to hear a joyful song and the music of stringed instruments.” Then begin striking the keys and singing in accompaniment as David and Elisha did, until your sad thoughts vanish. If the devil returns and plants worries and sad thoughts in your mind, resist him manfully and say, “Begone, devil! I must now play and sing unto my Lord Christ.”
Ed. Theodore Tappert, Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel (Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 2003), (pp. 96-97)
I am a Lutheran pastor recently diagnosed with clinical depression. This is an account of my soul's journey to healing.
What is a soul? You do not have a soul, rather you are a soul. You are a soul enfleshed with body, emotion, and mind. All of you is your soul.
The red heart with a black cross at the center should remind us that the righteous live by faith in the Crucified One. The heart rests in a white rose, to show that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace. The rose is white, not red, because white is the color of the heavenly spirits and angels. The white rose stands in a field of blue, the color of heaven, to show that joy in the spirit and in faith in this life is only the beginning of future heavenly joy. Surrounding the sky-blue field is a gold ring, to show that happiness and joy in heaven has no end, buts lasts forever, just as gold is the hightest, most noble and precious metal.