The Checklist

Well, by God’s grace I think we have finally found the right medication cocktail. The last couple weeks I’ve had a burst of energy that finally caught up with me, so that now I have a cold. But it’s okay. I have a mental stability that I haven’t had for more than a year, and even though it is a delicate hold, it feels like it is getting to be a firmer grip every day.


So what I have found is that I am making a mental checklist of all the things I need to do in order to prepare for re-entry into the regular pastoral office. Kind of like an airplane checklist before takeoff, there are certain things that I want/need to get done in order to come back and feel like I have a solid footing on things.

Most of the things on my current checklist are household chores. Cleaning, organizing, a little building (odd, because that it totally contrary to my nature), working on finances, etc. It’s kind of a project of finishing unfinished business, so that I can start anew.

My counselor tell me this is normal and healthy, and is a sign of new life and energy. That’s good. I really do feel much better, cold notwithstanding. But there are some dangers involved with this process.

  • The first and most obvious danger is doing too much too quickly. I haven’t had any energy for so long, that to have energy is, well, dangerous. I want to do everything NOW. I’m not always a patient person, so it is tough for me to manage my time so that I am not overdoing it. That’s at least part of what got me here in the first place.
  • Another danger is creating mental roadblocks to certain things that are difficult. It is very difficult, for example, for me to greet everyone after church. Much harder than doing the service. So I have to sort of retrain my mind to know that I am fine, I can do this, and that I love my congregation. It sounds silly, I know. The mind is a powerful thing, one of God’s greatest gifts, and if your mind convinces you that you can’t do certain things, or that you are afraid of certain things, then you are. There has to be some process of desensitization. I’ll chat more on that in another post.
  • Finally, there is a spiritual danger. It is the danger of either pride (I have gotten through this, now I can do anything), or despair (I may feel good now, but I just KNOW all of this is coming back, sooner or later). Pride and despair in many ways are two sides of the same coin. They are both ways of deny God as our loving creator who gives us all things in Christ. Satan uses them both to his advantage, and we gladly let him do so. The antidote to both, spiritually speaking, is repentance and faith. Recognize these within you for what they are, confess them to your pastor, and God will forgive your sins for Jesus’ sake. It is the only way of battling these sins (or great shame and vice, as the catechism puts it).

So these are my thoughts for the morning. I hope they are useful to you, just as you have all helped me on the dark road. I’ll be back again soon.

-DMR

On Signs and What to Do With Them


The downs and ups are more frequent now, rather than just weeks of down and a few glimmers of sunshine. How do you know when you’re going to have a difficult day? What are the signs? Here are some of mine:

  • I feel like a zombie.
  • I don’t want to see or talk to other people.
  • I don’t want to move.
  • I don’t want to be in sunlight.
  • I want to curl up into a ball and just make the world go away.
  • I want to buy things to make me feel better. (they don’t, or at least not for very long)
  • It seems like the world is moving in slow motion, or at least like I am in relation to the world.
  • I find that I really don’t care about anyone or anything. It is very difficult for me even to be civil to my family, far less a loving husband and father (and pastor).
  • I can’t see past the day. The future (which is always bright in Christ Jesus our Lord), fades away to nothing, so that all I can see is the darkness ahead.

It’s not a pretty picture, I know. I think most people suffering from depression and/or anxiety have these feelings and desires (or others) with them most of the time. They are, uh, manageable when it is one or two. But when it is most of them or all of them, that’s when it becomes very difficult, even painful.

What do you do? Here are a few tips, and it really depends on where you are in your medical journey, among other things:

  • Wait it out. Even in the midst of the darkness now, because the light is more frequent, I can cling to that candle and hope and pray that tomorrow will be better. Maybe even this afternoon. If the episodes are hours at a time or a day or an evening, that is much more tolerable.
  • Talk to you counselor. Email them. Whatever you do. (Have I mentioned getting a counselor is a very good idea? IT IS!) They want to help you. Let them.
  • Call your pastor (or friend, or whomever) and ask him to pray for you, and may be ask him to suggest a few psalms or prayers that you may benefit from.
  • If it lasts more than a day, if this is droning on and on and on, go to your doctor. Don’t wait. Don’t play around. Do it. It may be a question of medication, or the “cocktail” you’re taking. If it isn’t working, try something else.
  • Embrace it in a way that isn’t self-destructive or will contribute to your further downfall. Watch movies. Go outside if you can. Indulge in some chocolate (but be easy on the caffeine). Give yourself permission to kick back and not beat yourself up. You can’t control the neurotransmitters in your brain.
  • Write down what the signs are and give them to others who need help.

Those are a few thoughts for the day. What have I missed?

-DMR

On Signs and What to Do With Them


The downs and ups are more frequent now, rather than just weeks of down and a few glimmers of sunshine. How do you know when you’re going to have a difficult day? What are the signs? Here are some of mine:

  • I feel like a zombie.
  • I don’t want to see or talk to other people.
  • I don’t want to move.
  • I don’t want to be in sunlight.
  • I want to curl up into a ball and just make the world go away.
  • I want to buy things to make me feel better. (they don’t, or at least not for very long)
  • It seems like the world is moving in slow motion, or at least like I am in relation to the world.
  • I find that I really don’t care about anyone or anything. It is very difficult for me even to be civil to my family, far less a loving husband and father (and pastor).
  • I can’t see past the day. The future (which is always bright in Christ Jesus our Lord), fades away to nothing, so that all I can see is the darkness ahead.

It’s not a pretty picture, I know. I think most people suffering from depression and/or anxiety have these feelings and desires (or others) with them most of the time. They are, uh, manageable when it is one or two. But when it is most of them or all of them, that’s when it becomes very difficult, even painful.

What do you do? Here are a few tips, and it really depends on where you are in your medical journey, among other things:

  • Wait it out. Even in the midst of the darkness now, because the light is more frequent, I can cling to that candle and hope and pray that tomorrow will be better. Maybe even this afternoon. If the episodes are hours at a time or a day or an evening, that is much more tolerable.
  • Talk to you counselor. Email them. Whatever you do. (Have I mentioned getting a counselor is a very good idea? IT IS!) They want to help you. Let them.
  • Call your pastor (or friend, or whomever) and ask him to pray for you, and may be ask him to suggest a few psalms or prayers that you may benefit from.
  • If it lasts more than a day, if this is droning on and on and on, go to your doctor. Don’t wait. Don’t play around. Do it. It may be a question of medication, or the “cocktail” you’re taking. If it isn’t working, try something else.
  • Embrace it in a way that isn’t self-destructive or will contribute to your further downfall. Watch movies. Go outside if you can. Indulge in some chocolate (but be easy on the caffeine). Give yourself permission to kick back and not beat yourself up. You can’t control the neurotransmitters in your brain.
  • Write down what the signs are and give them to others who need help.

Those are a few thoughts for the day. What have I missed?

-DMR