A Reflection on Depression


Dear Everyone,

As it has for a lot us, the tragic loss of Robin Williams has caused me to reflect. I think what’s cutting us to the core on this one is not only that we lost him, but also how we lost him. It has me thinking a lot about my own struggles with depression over the years, and I wanted to open up a bit about it and share. I know I am one among many afflicted. For those out there, you should know that you’re not alone. I am no expert in a field of study, but I know what it’s been like for me. I will share based on my own experience. Feel free to share based on yours.

Depression doesn’t have to be reasonable, logical, or rational. From the outside perspective, it can appear to be unwarranted. That’s part of what makes it so difficult to understand at times. It’s like seeing people with the worst circumstances in the world, yet they display strength, courage, hope, and even joy. Then you have people who are comparatively blessed beyond measure… who are tormented within their own heart and mind. It doesn’t have to be real to anyone else to be a devastating reality to the one experiencing it.

My depression was something that my ex-wife had to deal with. I know that wasn’t easy. We didn’t live together before we were married, and it is one of those things that can be managed enough at times to keep it unknown… enough. I never intentionally hid it, but it wasn’t who I wanted to be, so when at all possible, it wasn’t who I was. After marriage, she would see my times of withdrawal, of unexplainable sadness, of feelings of hopelessness and unbearable weight. When I was at that point there was nothing she could do, despite her best efforts. It wasn’t because of her or about her, but it surely effected her. I know it broke her spirits as well and caused her to feel inadequate in the sense that… she couldn’t fix the way I felt. I’m not meaning to speak for her. These are just things I’ve realized in hindsight, but are still coming from my perspective.

God has opened my eyes to the extent that I have realized what, for me, had perpetuated my depression. For me, it had been the disappointment of being failed by my idols. I am speaking of idols in the Biblical sense. The things I looked to for hope. The things I made my salvation and my source that never could’ve been those things for me. It was my misplaced and misguided expectation and ways of seeking for redemption. When people or things would fail me, fail to be what they were never intended to be, I would become disillusioned. I would withdrawal. I would unravel. I did this in lots of ways at different stages throughout my life, often seeking ways to escape the things I could not face, the most recent case being in my ended marriage.

You see, she was that savior from a home environment I didn’t know how to escape. She was that love that I never thought I’d deserve. She was that hope for a future away from a life of hidden pain. She was my grace for a life I never thought I’d get to have… and that was wrong. That was all wrong. It wasn’t fair to her for me to expect her to be something that no one could ever live up to. It caused me to only see and create who I wanted her to be, instead of who she was. I was in love with a version of her I created in my mind, and I deprived her of being loved for who she was. When reality broke through, when I was let down by my idol for being human as she was, I came undone. I could not be all she looked for me to be, just as she could not be all that I looked for her to be. We are not Gods and we were never meant to be.

I have been to the edge. I have been to the brink. I have come closer to leaving this place than I care to elaborate on. I am still paying off debt for medical bills from a panic attack and break down trip to the ER… but, I am lucky. Not all are so lucky. I have such loving, such incredible people in my life that reached out and reached into my life. They wouldn’t let me fade. They wouldn’t allow me to disappear. They wanted more for me than I did… they wanted me to live, and not to simply exist, but to take hold of that life that is truly life. God is good. God alone is God. God alone will never leave, forsake, nor fail. It is unfair to everyone involved to place someone else on the throne. They will only be burdened to live up to unattainable expectations, and you are only destined for disappointment by seeking perfection from the imperfect. The people who’ve loved me out of the darkness I was in have afforded me the opportunity to learn these things, seek healing, and begin again.

When you’re in that place, you don’t have the strength to reach out. You can’t even find the energy to expend. So I beseech you all, if know someone struggling, withdrawing, spiraling… reach out to them. Pray for them. Don’t ever try to rationalize away what they are experiencing. Let God’s love flow through you to break into their lives, for it’s that very love that will save them. It’s that very love that brings the hope, strength, and purpose to step out and live again. I thank you for your time, and I open the door to you as well. Let’s not be silent. Let’s not isolate or hide away. Let’s call this what it is, and throw ourselves on grace. I love you all and God bless.

Sincerely,

Me

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Thoughts and Observations on the Other Side of Marriage


I’m a loyal person. When things start to progress in any form of relationship, roots begin to grow. Roots have never gone as deep as they had when I crossed into the realm of marriage. They are roots that I never thought would be uprooted. So, being on the other side of marriage, I’m finding that God’s going to have to be the one that fully digs them up. I’ve been continually healing, growing, and progressing, but there are just some depths that I cannot reach.

I can think that it wasn’t supposed to be this way… but it is this way. There is beauty, risk, and responsibility behind our gift of free will. The free will of another was enacted, so it is now up to me to use mine and choose to let God take me from here. I don’t know what the future holds, but He does and He is good. That is good enough for me.

Give It to Me Straight


Marriage is a hell of a thing to have to experience by trial and error. I don’t want to ever have to learn from it in this way again. That’s why it is so important that I extract every possible lesson from this, allow it to blow open all of my illusions, and let it cause me to face reality and all the ways I need to change. There’s what’s been done to you, but there’s also who you’ve allowed yourself to be and what you’ve allowed yourself to do. What you’ve been given is not your fault, but what you do with it is your charge. You want to know how to learn from mistakes? Allow yourself to feel all that you ought to through the consequences. That is lesson enough to not want to be there again. I am not talking about going to a morbid place, or taking it to an unhealthy extent, but escape, numbness, band-aids, and cutting corners is like pursuing leprosy of the soul. It was when you felt the burn that you learned touching fire will hurt. The draw to want to rush through the lessons is incredibly strong, but when I let myself feel through this time, I know that no shortcut is worth being here again. I only hope that my transparency will be used to help someone else not go through the same.
*This is a draft from 11/30/2013 that somehow got overlooked and not posted. It’s interesting to look back and see when the hurt and angst was still so raw.

Hear My Heart


It’s better for me if I don’t know what she’s up to or how things are going. I just hope they’re going well. I pray that they are. I tried to pray tonight and realized I just didn’t know what to say. So, I just told God, “I’ll always love her… and so will You. That’s a good thing. That’s good enough for me.” Amen.

It’s Time


It’s been a while and I apologize for that. A lot has changed. I spent the last week and a half moving into a new apartment. It’s just another step in the process of separation, as my wife moves to divorce me. I do like it here. It’s a nice home. I went and got a kitten last weekend. He is adorable and has proven himself a wonderful companion during this lonely time. I’m doing ok. I’m accepting what is going on and doing my best to build a new life. Part of doing so is requiring something of me. Something I have ran from for a very long time.

I mentioned before about my history of being sexually abused. It is a demon that has never left me, no matter how hard I tried to muscle my way through life and keep it buried. It is becoming clear that the time has come for me to finally tell my family about what happened. I am beyond scared. I am terrified. I just keep thinking, “God, do I really have to do this?” I don’t want to. I wish this cup could pass from me. But it is time. I can’t keep it buried any longer. This beast has shaped me far too much for far too long. It played a huge role in distorting and ruining my marriage. I have already lost good friends, and now the woman I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with because of how I let my past shape me. I did not choose what happened to me, but what I do now is my choice. I cannot let the damage spill from me any longer. I am shattered. It is time to let the truth pour out and set me free so God can begin to build me into something new.

Years ago, I went on a retreat into the mountains. It was just me and my closet guy friend. Who am I kidding, he is a brother to me. We packed up a couple of mountain bikes and just rode until we found a spot to pitch a tent. The purpose was to get away from the noise and spend time with God– no cell phone service, no television, and no internet. We prepared sermons to deliver to each other. It was awesome. On one of the days, we broke off. We went our separate ways to hike and spend time with the Lord one on one. We didn’t set a time to be back by, and frankly we didn’t have a means to tell time anyway. While I was hiking up stream and praying, I was captivated by a red dragonfly. It seemed it was following me on my hike. I kept going and praying. Finally, I reached an end point at a waterfall. The whole time I was there, this red dragonfly stayed perched on a rock near me. I kept my eye on it. After a while, it took flight headed back toward the direction we came. This time, I decided to follow it. I kept pace with it all the way back to camp. When I arrived, it was at the exact moment that my brother was returning as well. It was awesome. I am not one given over to mysticism, but I believe that red dragonfly was there for a reason. It was just something cool, you know? Something special I believe God did for me. Ever since that moment, I have taken seeing a red dragonfly as sort of a sign. Just God reminding me that He’s with me, He knows where I’m at, and I’m on the right path.

A couple days after moving into this new place, I stepped out onto the patio to have a smoke. It had been quite a while since I had seen a red dragonfly, but sure enough one came flying by from overhead. Out of all of the cars parked in the complex, it went and flew right over mine. It stopped there and just hovered for a while. I couldn’t help but smile. Eventually, it took off but I was left thinking… maybe I’m right where I’m supposed to be. Things have been devastating. Things have been tragic. But maybe I’m here, now, for a reason. Maybe I’ve been brought to this place and time in life to finally face what I am about to. I have been running for too long. As much as I do not want to do this… as much as I just want to keep running, it’s time. It is finally time.

The Product of Yet Another Late Night


I hate finding traces of you here… you come and go as a phantom. Your life, that was once very much a part of mine, has become something left to the imagination. Sometimes I wonder what you are up to. Other times I simply don’t want to think about you at all. You’re beautiful and you kill me inside. I don’t want to know… don’t want to care, yet I’d give anything if I had any hint it would bring you here… next to me, where you once belonged. Next to me, where you once called home. You’re a shadow now and you’re fading fast. I reach to grab you, but nothing’s there. Our love, our life is vanishing. Any proof that it was ever real is becoming harder to find. What once was solid became liquid and flowed right down the drain. All that’s left is vapor now, and all our dreams are dissipating. Was it real? What did we have? Was it only a moment to come and go? Where have you gone? All I know is you are not here and you are not the women that I used to know.

Heartbreak and Empty Pursuits


My wife left me a couple of months ago. I had become emotionally unavailable and had unmet expectations and demands in our marriage. It was selfish of me. I never stopped loving her, but I became unloving and impatient. I said things I did not mean and did not realize how much damage my words were causing. I should have remembered that words hold the power of life and death. At the same time, she expected us to be each other’s everything. It seems as though she thought everything was meant to be happy and fun all of the time. When it came down to it, she was not willing to work on things. This has caused me to question if she ever really loved me, or just the way I made her feel and all the fun things we could afford before we got married. I suppose speculating on this does no good at this point.

Eventually, I caught her starting a romantic relationship with another man. I did not handle that well. My initial reaction was to offer no grace at all. We tried counseling toward the end, but she was already done. This has now become a faith crisis for her. She is claiming to no longer believe in Jesus or the Bible, which is mind-blowing to me. Our faith had always been such a big part of our lives from the very beginning. Obviously, I did not live out the love of Christ toward her the way I should have, but the fact that she has been able to completely turn her back on everything she has ever believed in like this… it has me reeling. Nothing and no one has been able to get through to her now. She is dead set and is taking all the steps to divorce me. It is not what I want at all, but it has become clear that there is nothing I can do. We were together for three years before we got married. In marriage, we have only lasted over a year and a half.

This has been a devastating struggle, to say the least. I am trying to handle it the best way I can. I have continued with counseling even though she stopped going after two sessions. What is crazy to me throughout all of this is the intense pull I feel toward things I know will only harm me in the end. Why do we do that? I have not been a smoker in over six years, and here I am shaking for a cigarette every two hours or so. Then there is alcohol. I used to be able to have a drink or two and it was no big deal. It was relaxing and fun. Now, one drink in and I just want to die. It is like an amplifier for all the sadness within me. Something I could enjoy from time to time has become a danger to me now. There is another thing that has been creeping up too… this desire to just go out and sleep around. I have never been a promiscuous person. I, unfortunately, was not a virgin before my wife. That was due to sexual abuse that I will touch on more down the road. But when it came to my wife and I, we waited until marriage to have sex. I believe that is the right thing to do. Other than my abuser, she is the only woman I have ever been with. So where is this coming from? Suddenly, I just want to lose myself in selfish satisfaction at all costs. That is not me. That is not who I want to be. I am fighting and seeking the Lord for the strength to overcome. I know that through Him, we are more than conquerors.

The point that I want to make with all of this is that none of these self-destructive thoughts or actions have done a single thing to help me through this. They have not helped and they will not help. So why do we do it? Why do we try to fill up our emptiness with empty things and expect to be fulfilled as a result? Those things will never help us obtain what we truly need. Believing that they will is buying into a lie. They placate us just enough to keep us from progress. It may be hard to face the work and pain that we need to go through, but it will never be behind us if we do not go through it. There is no way around it. It is a valley of shadow and death, but our God is with us… so, what is there to fear? There is nothing greater than Him. Nothing is too difficult for Him. Eventually, the valley will open up and we will experience freedom from the cliff sides that surround us. God takes us through these valleys for freedom’s sake. The darkness makes the light shine that much brighter, in contrast. If we did not know pain and bondage, would we fully appreciate the healing and freedom that only He can bring? Do not sell yourself short. Do not capitalize on your own suffering for an opportunity to chase self-destructive and empty pursuits. You are worth more than that. Your heartbreak means more than that. The next time you want to treat yourself like you have no worth, seek the One who thought you were worth dying for– to save.