The Anonymous Pastor with the Anonymous Disease

I struggled mightly on whether to make this an anonymous blog or not. Friends and colleagues basically convinced me to make it anonymous. I generally don’t like anonymous comments and statements, because I don’t like the idea of hiding behind a “nome de plume” in order to say what needs to be said.

Upon further reflection, though, it actually makes sense for a blog dedicated to mental illness. Pastors with mental illness generally hide it. They hide it from their children, their parish, their friends, even their wife. (Wives, it should be noted, usually know anyway.) But perhaps most importantly, they hide it from themselves. I know. I’ve done it.

Why is that? Why do we hide such things from ourselves, refuse to recognize that things are not right, that our lives are sort of collapsing all around us? I know that for months, perhaps even years, I couldn’t see it creeping into my life. I would put on the “super-pastor face” (this will be a topic for another post), and would refuse to let anyone, even my own family, in on my pain and trials. Unconsciously, though, I started to let things slip. Things that I couldn’t handle, I simply stopped doing. Little things at first, but it got to be so that some of the bread and butter things that pastors do became impossible. Hospital calls, shut-ins, even writing sermons and more. I wouldn’t return people’s phone calls. I would hide from my own flock.

That is, of course, the nature of depression. It creeps in unsuspecting, unnoticed. It takes over, so that you don’t know it’s even done so.

But you can’t see it. And when you do finally see it (most never do), we are ashamed. Guilty. Unworthy of others company. What can’t I just force my way through this? Why can’t I turn back the clock, make myself the way I used to be? So we hide it from others, until there is nothing left inside.

I suppose that this may be true of many diseases and illnesses. But unlike a heart attack, it is much easier to deceive yourself (and sometimes others) that there is nothing really wrong.

So for the time being at least, this blog is anonymous. For those who suffer alone. For those whose names and trials are hidden from others. We are anonymous for the sake of the One whom we hid from (Isaiah 53), because he is the One who knows our every weakness, every suffering. We are anonymous, but none of us are ever alone.

The Anonymous Pastor with the Anonymous Disease

I struggled mightly on whether to make this an anonymous blog or not. Friends and colleagues basically convinced me to make it anonymous. I generally don’t like anonymous comments and statements, because I don’t like the idea of hiding behind a “nome de plume” in order to say what needs to be said.

Upon further reflection, though, it actually makes sense for a blog dedicated to mental illness. Pastors with mental illness generally hide it. They hide it from their children, their parish, their friends, even their wife. (Wives, it should be noted, usually know anyway.) But perhaps most importantly, they hide it from themselves. I know. I’ve done it.

Why is that? Why do we hide such things from ourselves, refuse to recognize that things are not right, that our lives are sort of collapsing all around us? I know that for months, perhaps even years, I couldn’t see it creeping into my life. I would put on the “super-pastor face” (this will be a topic for another post), and would refuse to let anyone, even my own family, in on my pain and trials. Unconsciously, though, I started to let things slip. Things that I couldn’t handle, I simply stopped doing. Little things at first, but it got to be so that some of the bread and butter things that pastors do became impossible. Hospital calls, shut-ins, even writing sermons and more. I wouldn’t return people’s phone calls. I would hide from my own flock.

That is, of course, the nature of depression. It creeps in unsuspecting, unnoticed. It takes over, so that you don’t know it’s even done so.

But you can’t see it. And when you do finally see it (most never do), we are ashamed. Guilty. Unworthy of others company. What can’t I just force my way through this? Why can’t I turn back the clock, make myself the way I used to be? So we hide it from others, until there is nothing left inside.

I suppose that this may be true of many diseases and illnesses. But unlike a heart attack, it is much easier to deceive yourself (and sometimes others) that there is nothing really wrong.

So for the time being at least, this blog is anonymous. For those who suffer alone. For those whose names and trials are hidden from others. We are anonymous for the sake of the One whom we hid from (Isaiah 53), because he is the One who knows our every weakness, every suffering. We are anonymous, but none of us are ever alone.

Topics

I’m working on some topics that ought to be covered here in the next 2-3 months. Here’s what I have so far:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • OCD
  • Relation between Faith and illness
  • Mental Illness and Stigma
  • What can pastors let go and what CAN’T they let go and why
  • Pastors as Supermen
  • Hiding weakness
  • Drugs Drugs Drugs
  • Counselors? We Don’t Need No Stinking Counselors! (not)
  • Hope when there is no hope in your heart

So those are some of my ideas. What would YOU like to see covered?

Topics

I’m working on some topics that ought to be covered here in the next 2-3 months. Here’s what I have so far:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • OCD
  • Relation between Faith and illness
  • Mental Illness and Stigma
  • What can pastors let go and what CAN’T they let go and why
  • Pastors as Supermen
  • Hiding weakness
  • Drugs Drugs Drugs
  • Counselors? We Don’t Need No Stinking Counselors! (not)
  • Hope when there is no hope in your heart

So those are some of my ideas. What would YOU like to see covered?

In God My Faithful God

In God, my faithful God,
I trust when dark my road.
Though many woes o’er take me
Yet he will not forsake me.
It is his love that sends them;
At His best time He ends them.
(Lutheran Worship 421, stanza 1)

This site is dedicated to pastors and others who suffer from mental illness, particularly depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Let me tell you a wee bit about myself. I’m a Lutheran pastor with a family, and, like many others, have suffered from depression and anxiety. I don’t intend for this blog to be like a cyber-AA meeting (“Hi. My name is darkmyroad and I’m a recovering mental case.” “Hey dark!” CLAP CLAP) My point rather is to provide a forum where the Gospel predominates, where hope can be found for suffering pastors and others, and where frank discussions may be had.

Depression and mental illness can be utterly debilitating, be seen as a stigma especially for pastors, and that can destroy a man’s ministry and his family. Many suffer alone, and it truly is a dark and lonely road. I have been there.

But we are not alone. Christ our dear Lord suffers with us, and provides the healing balm which we need. First and formost there is the forgiveness of sins, and the healing which only His Holy Word may provide. But that is only one kind of healing (even if it is the chief one). Our Lord’s blessings comes from many places. Depression (for example) is in my opinion certainly biochemical, as well as situational and sometimes spiritual. But it is also a tool which Satan may use to lead us to false belief, despair and other great shame and vice. So as with all disease and the results of a sinful world, there are physical and spiritual elements involved. Medication, therapy, confesssion and absolution, the Sacramental life of the Christian, all of these (and perhaps others) have their place. How is the Christian to weave through them, keep them in their proper place, and see the light at the end of the dark road?

Lots of things to talk about.

Sometime after we get things off the ground, I’ll probably invite some others to contribute. But we’ll keep it a small table for now.

So welcome to the coffee shop. Pull up a chair, have some decaf mocha latte, and let’s chat.

In God My Faithful God

In God, my faithful God,
I trust when dark my road.
Though many woes o’er take me
Yet he will not forsake me.
It is his love that sends them;
At His best time He ends them.
(Lutheran Worship 421, stanza 1)

This site is dedicated to pastors and others who suffer from mental illness, particularly depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Let me tell you a wee bit about myself. I’m a Lutheran pastor with a family, and, like many others, have suffered from depression and anxiety. I don’t intend for this blog to be like a cyber-AA meeting (“Hi. My name is darkmyroad and I’m a recovering mental case.” “Hey dark!” CLAP CLAP) My point rather is to provide a forum where the Gospel predominates, where hope can be found for suffering pastors and others, and where frank discussions may be had.

Depression and mental illness can be utterly debilitating, be seen as a stigma especially for pastors, and that can destroy a man’s ministry and his family. Many suffer alone, and it truly is a dark and lonely road. I have been there.

But we are not alone. Christ our dear Lord suffers with us, and provides the healing balm which we need. First and formost there is the forgiveness of sins, and the healing which only His Holy Word may provide. But that is only one kind of healing (even if it is the chief one). Our Lord’s blessings comes from many places. Depression (for example) is in my opinion certainly biochemical, as well as situational and sometimes spiritual. But it is also a tool which Satan may use to lead us to false belief, despair and other great shame and vice. So as with all disease and the results of a sinful world, there are physical and spiritual elements involved. Medication, therapy, confesssion and absolution, the Sacramental life of the Christian, all of these (and perhaps others) have their place. How is the Christian to weave through them, keep them in their proper place, and see the light at the end of the dark road?

Lots of things to talk about.

Sometime after we get things off the ground, I’ll probably invite some others to contribute. But we’ll keep it a small table for now.

So welcome to the coffee shop. Pull up a chair, have some decaf mocha latte, and let’s chat.