The Love of a Woman

I am blessed beyond measure to be married to the greatest wife in the world. Okay, I’m obviously bias, but it is the love of a woman that has kept my grip on reality, stayed with me through thick and thin, virtually been a single mom during my darkest hours, and has shown patience and steadfastness when many would have left. She is a gift beyond price and a treasure I do not deserve.

As I look at my illness and ongoing recovery, this is one piece of the puzzle I have not blogged about. I don’t know. It’s almost too private even for an anonymous blog. But I believe a little introspection might be in order.

People who suffer from depression or other mental illnesses are what in our day we would call “high maintenence.” That may not even be strong enough. When you can’t move, can’t get out of bed or bother to eat, it requires help from others. Serious help. That help may come from lots of sources (doctors, counselors, pastors, friends, etc.), but the rubber really hits the road with the ones you live with every day.

For many (though not all) that will mean a spouse. I’m going to speak as a husband and a father, because that’s what I know best. Most households are a hodgepodge of shared responsibilities, bearing one another’s burdens, centered in Christ and in the family that He has created. This is good, right and salutary. In the “normal” phases of our marriage, that has been the case.

But when I have been on the dark road, she has often been alone. Family and friends don’t understand, and she has been left holding the bag on everything from breakfast to bills to mowing the lawn or whatever else there may be. I truly don’t know how single moms do it. Then on top of all of the household matters, there is our children and me.

I don’t write this to hold her up as the model wife or to demonstrate how God has blessed me. My point is that the pressure put on the family during a mental illness is staggering. Many families don’t survive. I can understand that, as tragic as it is.

But time and time again, I hear stories of the strength and faith that wives have shown to their husbands who are sick, even sick in the head. I am always in amazement and wonder that God gives such strength, and that we are taken care of day in and day out.

I don’t know how to thank her other than work on getting better. I don’t know how to recognize her. I want to throw her a parade, give her a gold medal or something spectacular. But right now all I can do is keep moving along, a day at a time, praying that God will grant me healing so that I can always be there for her as she has been there for me.

For those of you who suffer as I do, don’t forget those whom God has placed in your path. They are your lifeline and will give you strength when it seems impossible. For those of you whose husband is a pastor (or some other vocation) who suffers from depression and anxiety, I salute you. You are all my heroes.

Finally, to the love of my life (you know who you are), you are God’s greatest gift to me outside of His dear Son. Even if I don’t show it as I ought, it is always true. Te amo.

The Love of a Woman

I am blessed beyond measure to be married to the greatest wife in the world. Okay, I’m obviously bias, but it is the love of a woman that has kept my grip on reality, stayed with me through thick and thin, virtually been a single mom during my darkest hours, and has shown patience and steadfastness when many would have left. She is a gift beyond price and a treasure I do not deserve.

As I look at my illness and ongoing recovery, this is one piece of the puzzle I have not blogged about. I don’t know. It’s almost too private even for an anonymous blog. But I believe a little introspection might be in order.

People who suffer from depression or other mental illnesses are what in our day we would call “high maintenence.” That may not even be strong enough. When you can’t move, can’t get out of bed or bother to eat, it requires help from others. Serious help. That help may come from lots of sources (doctors, counselors, pastors, friends, etc.), but the rubber really hits the road with the ones you live with every day.

For many (though not all) that will mean a spouse. I’m going to speak as a husband and a father, because that’s what I know best. Most households are a hodgepodge of shared responsibilities, bearing one another’s burdens, centered in Christ and in the family that He has created. This is good, right and salutary. In the “normal” phases of our marriage, that has been the case.

But when I have been on the dark road, she has often been alone. Family and friends don’t understand, and she has been left holding the bag on everything from breakfast to bills to mowing the lawn or whatever else there may be. I truly don’t know how single moms do it. Then on top of all of the household matters, there is our children and me.

I don’t write this to hold her up as the model wife or to demonstrate how God has blessed me. My point is that the pressure put on the family during a mental illness is staggering. Many families don’t survive. I can understand that, as tragic as it is.

But time and time again, I hear stories of the strength and faith that wives have shown to their husbands who are sick, even sick in the head. I am always in amazement and wonder that God gives such strength, and that we are taken care of day in and day out.

I don’t know how to thank her other than work on getting better. I don’t know how to recognize her. I want to throw her a parade, give her a gold medal or something spectacular. But right now all I can do is keep moving along, a day at a time, praying that God will grant me healing so that I can always be there for her as she has been there for me.

For those of you who suffer as I do, don’t forget those whom God has placed in your path. They are your lifeline and will give you strength when it seems impossible. For those of you whose husband is a pastor (or some other vocation) who suffers from depression and anxiety, I salute you. You are all my heroes.

Finally, to the love of my life (you know who you are), you are God’s greatest gift to me outside of His dear Son. Even if I don’t show it as I ought, it is always true. Te amo.

On C-3PO and Clinical Depression: Is there a Connection?


I recently picked up the original Star Wars triology at Goodwill for $4. I love a good deal. So I’m watching the shows I watched when I was growing up. But this time I’m focusing on a different character than normal: C-3PO.

C-3PO could have been suffering from clinical depression. I know, I know. Droids don’t have bio-chemical imbalances or situational disasters that send them down the rabbit who so many of us experience. Duh. But run with me on this.

C-3PO has the miraculous way of always looking at the worst in any situation. “We’re doomed.” “I’m going to regret this.” “Oh he excels at that.” Most of C-3PO’s statements follow along these lines, especially in the first movie (or fourth movie, depending on how you’re counting).

Now from a cinematic point of view, he serves to ask the question and express the fears of the audience. “How are they going to get outta THAT?” It’s a part of what makes his character fun, expecially in contrast to the irrepresively happy R2D2. (I hate R2D2.)

But what really is intriguing is looking at C-3PO as a character. His view, frankly, could be the view of someone clinically depressed. It’s like your brain is hard-wired never to see the future, to dwell on the impossibilities of today, and to only imagine that things will get worse. (Confessional Lutherans, btw, are in general susceptible to this.)

This is how I often feel. It’s certainly how I have felt in my darkest hours. In the midst of the fog, the darkeness, the wet blanket of life, I can’t seem to get out of it. I can’t see past it. Things will collapse. I will never get better. I get mad at myself, I zone, I get angry at my family, lash out at anything and everything, if I have the energy to be angry. Often I just mentally implode, where nothing is moving and I can’t get out of it.

It does remind one of St. Paul’s words from I Corinthians:

7But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

This of course is the balance we all seek. Recognizing the trials of this life (including mental illness) are not forever. God does heal, and He does use people as his instruments. Doctors, counselors, psychiatrists, pastors, friends and family, all of these may be used in different ways to bring about healing, both on this side of the grave, and certainly in the day of resurrection.

Be at peace. Christ is here, in His Very Word and in your very mouth and heart through his holy sacraments. Even if your attitude is that of our friend C-3PO (as is mine often enough), God’s promises remain sure.

In Christ,
-DarkMyRoad

On C-3PO and Clinical Depression: Is there a Connection?


I recently picked up the original Star Wars triology at Goodwill for $4. I love a good deal. So I’m watching the shows I watched when I was growing up. But this time I’m focusing on a different character than normal: C-3PO.

C-3PO could have been suffering from clinical depression. I know, I know. Droids don’t have bio-chemical imbalances or situational disasters that send them down the rabbit who so many of us experience. Duh. But run with me on this.

C-3PO has the miraculous way of always looking at the worst in any situation. “We’re doomed.” “I’m going to regret this.” “Oh he excels at that.” Most of C-3PO’s statements follow along these lines, especially in the first movie (or fourth movie, depending on how you’re counting).

Now from a cinematic point of view, he serves to ask the question and express the fears of the audience. “How are they going to get outta THAT?” It’s a part of what makes his character fun, expecially in contrast to the irrepresively happy R2D2. (I hate R2D2.)

But what really is intriguing is looking at C-3PO as a character. His view, frankly, could be the view of someone clinically depressed. It’s like your brain is hard-wired never to see the future, to dwell on the impossibilities of today, and to only imagine that things will get worse. (Confessional Lutherans, btw, are in general susceptible to this.)

This is how I often feel. It’s certainly how I have felt in my darkest hours. In the midst of the fog, the darkeness, the wet blanket of life, I can’t seem to get out of it. I can’t see past it. Things will collapse. I will never get better. I get mad at myself, I zone, I get angry at my family, lash out at anything and everything, if I have the energy to be angry. Often I just mentally implode, where nothing is moving and I can’t get out of it.

It does remind one of St. Paul’s words from I Corinthians:

7But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

This of course is the balance we all seek. Recognizing the trials of this life (including mental illness) are not forever. God does heal, and He does use people as his instruments. Doctors, counselors, psychiatrists, pastors, friends and family, all of these may be used in different ways to bring about healing, both on this side of the grave, and certainly in the day of resurrection.

Be at peace. Christ is here, in His Very Word and in your very mouth and heart through his holy sacraments. Even if your attitude is that of our friend C-3PO (as is mine often enough), God’s promises remain sure.

In Christ,
-DarkMyRoad

The Things People Say…

I’ve been trying to think about all of the crazy, unhelpful, annoying, or just plain (ahem) depressing things that people have said to me since I’ve been struggling with depression. Here’s a first crack at the list:

  • You know God still loves you.
  • If you would spend more time outside, you would feel better.
  • Have you considered dieting?
  • Do you have an unconfessed sins that are weighing you down?
  • Things will get better eventually.
  • Have you tried acupuncture?
  • It’s all in your mind. If you decide to be happy, you will be.

There’s a long list of them, but I’m tired this morning. Can anyone help me out to fill this list in? What are the crazy and unhelpful things people say to you when they find out your depressed?

-DarkMyRoad

The Bad Day

I am having a bad day today. I won’t go into why, but everyone has bad days. I can mentally recognize that overall, things are good. My medication is working, counseling goes well, and I am moving along in many other areas, which makes me very happy.

But today stinks.

Now of course, everyone has bad days. Things don’t go right. You’re stressed. You’ve messed up or someone else has messed upon you, whatever. We all have our bad days. This is what we on planet earth call “life”.

But not for the depressed person.

For someone suffering from depression (or it’s kissing cousin, anxiety), bad days aren’t simply bad days. In depression you cannot look past yourself, your problems, and you can’t look into the future. In other words, depression sucks away hope. It can often attack faith itself. Other things may do this as well, but I know depression does it.

So for someone suffering from depression, a bad day becomes an event, with a whole host of questions swirling through one’s head:

  • How long will this last?
  • What can I do to get out of it?
  • Has my medication stopped working?
  • What if things go back to the way they were?
  • What if I am always like this, slowly turning into a vegetable that has been overcooked.

There may even be darker questions about life and death asked. I’ve been there. It stinks.

So what do you do when these questions won’t go away, when you stay up at night fretting over what may be nothing, but even over things that may be a big deal? This isn’t rocket science, but here are a few ideas:

  1. Remind yourself that Tom Cruise is an idiot. That always makes me feel better. Depression exists. It’s a medical condition and not a question of willpower. Sometimes things will be worse than others. But because you’re depressed, you look at these things under a microscope and forget to ever look up. It’s kind of the ultimate incurvatus se (turned in upon oneself).
  2. Give yourself a break. Take a nap. Sit in the sun. Go some place quiet for a while. But DON’T beat yourself over the head with it and try to “work through it”. In all liklihood, that will make it worse.
  3. Pray and sing. Nothing long or fancy. A kyrie may be all you’ve got. Check out a few cross and comfort hymns.
  4. Trust that the God of comfort, who takes care of all things, continues to take care of you, even when you feel like your world is crashing down.
  5. If it persists, call your counselor or doctor and/or father confessor. Don’t try and fight it alone. God has given these people to you. They want to hear from you if you need help. There is nothing more satisfying that giving to another person. They are waiting for your call.

Those are the few thoughts off the top of my head. What have I missed?

Now let’s see if I can take my own advice….

-DarkMyRoad

The Bad Day

I am having a bad day today. I won’t go into why, but everyone has bad days. I can mentally recognize that overall, things are good. My medication is working, counseling goes well, and I am moving along in many other areas, which makes me very happy.

But today stinks.

Now of course, everyone has bad days. Things don’t go right. You’re stressed. You’ve messed up or someone else has messed upon you, whatever. We all have our bad days. This is what we on planet earth call “life”.

But not for the depressed person.

For someone suffering from depression (or it’s kissing cousin, anxiety), bad days aren’t simply bad days. In depression you cannot look past yourself, your problems, and you can’t look into the future. In other words, depression sucks away hope. It can often attack faith itself. Other things may do this as well, but I know depression does it.

So for someone suffering from depression, a bad day becomes an event, with a whole host of questions swirling through one’s head:

  • How long will this last?
  • What can I do to get out of it?
  • Has my medication stopped working?
  • What if things go back to the way they were?
  • What if I am always like this, slowly turning into a vegetable that has been overcooked.

There may even be darker questions about life and death asked. I’ve been there. It stinks.

So what do you do when these questions won’t go away, when you stay up at night fretting over what may be nothing, but even over things that may be a big deal? This isn’t rocket science, but here are a few ideas:

  1. Remind yourself that Tom Cruise is an idiot. That always makes me feel better. Depression exists. It’s a medical condition and not a question of willpower. Sometimes things will be worse than others. But because you’re depressed, you look at these things under a microscope and forget to ever look up. It’s kind of the ultimate incurvatus se (turned in upon oneself).
  2. Give yourself a break. Take a nap. Sit in the sun. Go some place quiet for a while. But DON’T beat yourself over the head with it and try to “work through it”. In all liklihood, that will make it worse.
  3. Pray and sing. Nothing long or fancy. A kyrie may be all you’ve got. Check out a few cross and comfort hymns.
  4. Trust that the God of comfort, who takes care of all things, continues to take care of you, even when you feel like your world is crashing down.
  5. If it persists, call your counselor or doctor and/or father confessor. Don’t try and fight it alone. God has given these people to you. They want to hear from you if you need help. There is nothing more satisfying that giving to another person. They are waiting for your call.

Those are the few thoughts off the top of my head. What have I missed?

Now let’s see if I can take my own advice….

-DarkMyRoad

On Ex Opere Operato and Shining Shoes


This morning I shined my shoes before church. Well, techinically I used the cheater’s shoe shine, but that’s not the point. The point is that I shined my shoes.

This may sound like a little event. But pastors are creatures of habit, as we all are. I have dreaded wearing my collar for a while, but slowly and surely, my pastoral habits are coming back.

What does this have to do with ex opere operato? Well, in reference to the Sacraments, this is a terms that Lutherans typically use to deride those silly Roman Catholics who believe that simply participating in the Sacraments, apart from faith, that a good work has been performed and this you gain points for heaven. (Okay, a slightly sarcastic and overly generalistic view. Run with me here, okay?)

Now the Office of the Holy Ministry has a sense of ex opere operato behind it. We confess that the Sacraments of a Lutheran pastor are effective, entirely apart from the faith in his heart. I remember (but can’t hunt down) the quotation where Luther says that he would receive the Sacrament from the devil himself if he were properly called to do so.

Now this is important, friends. This means that whether I’m depressed or anxious, have some neurosis, or a host of other physical, emotional, and even spiritual ailments, that God is still at work through me, preaching His Word and administering His Holy Body and Blood.

The comfort in this is simple. God is at work in you, pastors, and indeed in everyone according to their vocation. Whether they feel like it or not. Whether they even like it or not.

WHEW!

This is huge, my friends. It gives me the freedom to not be afraid I’m a failure. God is at work. And when I can’t preach and administer the Sacraments, God is still at work. It’s His Ministry, not mine. His Words, not mine. His Water, not mine. His Body and Blood, not mine. His Holy Absolution, not mine. He will alwas care for his people. Where I have sinned, I am forgiven. But it is not a sin to be sick. It’s a result of sin.

And the God who makes all things new will see me (and you) through your travails. So I shined my shoes today. Who knows what God will bring next week?

-DarkMyRoad