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.