Once you have gotten your medication under control, the disability people to believe that you and your doctor actually want you to get back to work, then at some point down the road (weeks, probably months) you will start to be ready to come back to earth.
This presents its own sets of challenges. If you are at the beginning of the journey, it may be hard to fathom being at this point, so I’ll try to describe it a bit. Any or all of these may apply. You are
- Bored with sitting around the house all day.
- Anxious to get moving, even if it is just a little.
- Start to feel jealous of other people being in your pulpit, and taking care of other pastoral duties for you.
- Longing for normalcy in a much more concrete way before. You can remember what it was really like.
- Not despairing over every event that takes place. You can start to do tasks, face responsibilities, and do some of those things you enjoyed before depression.
These are just a few. I’m sure a dozen more clinical answers could be provided. Here are a few things to consider on the way:
- DON’T GO TOO FAST. After two false starts at returning to work, I know of what I speak. Trust your doctor and your therapist. I’m not sure if you could move back too slowly. This is hard. Really hard. At least for me. My therapist, in their lovely non-directive sort of fashion, has had to head me off at the pass many many times.
- Trust your instincts. Now that is a very un-Lutheran thing to say, but in this case, it really is true. If you feel like you’re getting overwhelmed or that you are about to turn into a zombie (so to speak), you probably will. So stop before you get there.
- Start with easy things before the tough stuff. This too may appear obvious, but it is critical. Start with the easiest things for you, things that will give you satisfaction and confidence in who you are and what your Office is as pastor of the flock. For me, that means starting with doing the liturgy. It is the most natural thing for me, like breathing. After that comes Bible Class and Preaching. Those two are more exhausting, because they require more creativity, but on the other hand they are very satisfying, and they are two things I do pretty well (at least according to others). The hardest things for me parish wise are still making calls, conflict, and sort of general socializing. Those will come last, I expect.
- Focus on what is good and right, and recognize that the bad hours or days will pass. At the risk of misuing St. Paul, he speaks of this in Philippians four. I know how hard this is. It is a habitus of prayer and being soaked in the Word. But by the mercy of God, it will come in time.
That is what’s on my mind. What’s on yours?