ELUSIVE REMISSION

I am in my fifth clinical depressive episode since 1999 and have been for more than 10 months. There are a few things different about this experience than the others.

It is not as severe. The lines between mild, moderate, and severe depression are blurry atImage result for yo-yo best. For example, in the DSM moderate depression is defined as somewhere between mild and severe. Dah! Like that really helps. For me, the line that defines severe depression is consistent thoughts of death and/or suicidal ideations. Thankfully, I have not traversed that boundary this time.

A second difference is that it is up and down. Not in a bi-polar sense of extreme highs and lows, but in the sense of better and worse days. My journal is full of yo-yo like recordings. In one entry my mood is improving, three days later it is depressed. Stable. Down. Lifting. Dark.

Another difference is the fixation with what might have been and what ought to be. In previous episodes I have been occupied with staying alive and putting one foot in front of the other. Now, however, my mind spins with credentials lost, relationships broken, spiritual abandonment, and incongruous Christian walk. Although the former is far more frightening, it is also much simpler. You have one thing to think about – staying alive.

These thoughts are filled with neglect, regret, failure, unimportance, anger. It is the unrewarded effort. The untouchable soul. The rejected logic. The dismissed rebuke. The futility of revelation. When the house is quiet and everyone is asleep or gone, it the roar that screams against my peace.

Just this evening (June 19, 2018) I was telling my counselor that there was this persistent feeling that my life was a mistake. Oh no, not that I should not have lived, but that I should not have done with my life what I did. From the time I was 14 years old, I sensed that I was called to be a pastor/teacher. Now, however, with the way things have turned out and my inability to handle stress, I wonder if the “call” came from God or was it me wanting to walk in the footsteps of my father and brother. Perhaps I should have focused on the teaching part of ministry rather than the pastoral side. Can a series of mistakes made at 14 derail his life for the next 40 plus years? Leaving him to wonder in the desert? Uncertain? Detoured? Lost?

This episode has had its physical dimension. Sleep has eluded me night after night until I am so exhausted that I sleep for 12 or 14 hours straight. Nightmares are abundant. For 10 months this cycle has not abated and little has helped. “There is no long-term remission without sound sleep,” one entry in my journal states. Physical exhaustion results in mental and emotional depression.

I have gained weight and although it is currently stable I seem incapable of losing. I’ve had three cancer scares. Diagnosed with second stage kidney disease. Gall bladder surgery. A bad case of the flu. And a knee and a back that just won’t heal.

Please! Please. I’m not complaining. It’s the old warning about the straw that broke the camel’s back. Most people can handle one thing or two things or even three things. But, even a healthy person will eventually break if enough pressure is applied.

Hence, remission has been elusive. On May 31 I wrote, “I think I’m in remission.” On June 3, “depression.” It’s almost humorous. Remission is stalled. Short-lived.

Letting go is the key to my recovery, but it is so very painful and difficult. I asked my wife tonight, “Do you think I am less than the husband and father that I could be because of my inability to let go of the hurts of my past?” It was an unfair question, but I could see the answer on her face. My past is robbing me of my present joy and my future happiness. This cannot, must not, continue.

I have a challenge before me. The way is unclear. I’m not sure how to proceed. But I am determined to face it. Defeat it. Be victorious. By the grace of God.

 

The LORD be with you.

Advertisements

MONDAY’S PRAYER

Prayers for our children from the book of Proverbs.


O Lord our Father, teach my children to praise You. To praise You for Your character of holy love. To praise You for Your attributes. To praise You for Your creative work in making heaven and earth with wisdom and knowledge. From the depths to the dew let them appreciate, respect, and care for Your design, and acknowledge and praise You as the Designer. May they also praise You for Your work of redemption. That from the love of the Father, the sacrifice of the Son, and the administration of the Holy Spirit reconciliation between God and humankind is accomplished. May they practice and teach repentance. Proclaim and example faith (belief) in Jesus as the only way of eternalRelated image salvation. Help them to humble themselves to confess their personal sins, sins of their families, sins of their community, and sins of their nation and world. Empower them to confess boldly the name of Jesus Christ. Let them not settle for anything less than knowing that their sins have been forgiven, they have received the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit bears witness with their spirit that they are children of God.

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, Amen.

From Proverbs 3:19-20

FRIDAY’S JOURNAL

From Depression to Remission 

The recorded feelings and experiences of one man with severe depression. 


September 29, 2014

My sleep was interrupted by nightmares and fighting again last night. I kicked and punched the bed frequently. I looked at some pictures of my beautiful children on Facebook. It was bittersweet. I laid down for a couple of hours today – avoidance. Image result for journal

HE VOTED FOR ME

I wrote this piece some years ago during one of the presidential election cycles. With all the primaries and run-off elections occurring, I thought I would share it with you.


 

Long before I met Jesus, He voted for me. Before the foundation of the world, He voted for me. As a babe born in a manger, He voted for me. Tempted in the midst of great weakness He overcame and voted for me. As Jesus taught His generation and healed them of their diseases, He voted for me. When He prayed in the garden, “Not My will, butImage result for i vote for Jesus Thine be done,” He voted for me. As one disciple betrayed Him with a kiss and another denied Him with an oath and the others fled into the night, He voted for me. While Jesus was tried before a kangaroo court, before religious leaders, a King, and a Governor, He voted for me. With each indignity He bore from the slaps, spittle, and stripes, He voted for me. As He walked down the Via Del A Rosa carrying His own death instrument, He voted for me. When the crowds jeered at the LORD with cruel mocking and laughter, He voted for me.  Even as three nails pierced His hands and feet, a crown of thorns pressed upon His brow, and a spear punctured His side, He voted for me. Forsaken by the Father He trusted still, commended His spirit to God and voted for me. In the darkness of the tomb, He voted for me. Up from the grave He arose victorious over sin, death, hell, and the grave and He voted for me. Ascending into heaven, He voted for me. Sitting at the right hand of the Father making intercession on my behalf, Jesus votes for me. And if I go by the way of the vale with Him or meet Him in the air I know He votes for me. I voted for Him because He first voted for me.

MONDAY’S PRAYER

Prayers for our children from the book of Proverbs.


O God our creator and redeemer, I pray that our children and grandchildren may find their happiness in You. Help them to seek and embrace wisdom and understanding. Remind them that it is wise to seek and follow You and foolish to do anything less. Guide them to understand You in the way that You have revealed Yourself. Cause them to seek to know You as much as they are capable of knowing You. Knowing You, O Lord, is the only way to lasting joy and happiness. Teach them to be wise in understanding others – not condemning, but compassionate; not judgmental, but forgiving; not haughty, butRelated image humble. Save them from the temptation to amass temporal treasure however great or small and help them realize that things do not bring contentment or happiness. Awaken them to the fact that true treasures are to be found in finding and following You with a whole heart and helping others in Your name. Give them long lives of holy living and may their riches, honor, pleasure, peace, and life be found in knowing You. O that they would lay hold and retain this truth all the days of their lives.

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, Amen.

From Proverbs 3:13-18

FRIDAY’S JOURNAL

From Depression to Remission 

The recorded feelings and experiences of one man with severe depression. 


September 28, 2014

I missed Sunday morning church today. I just didn’t have the will to get up and go. The same thing happened yesterday when I saw a couple of job prospects. I just didn’t have the will to apply. The fear that I can do nothing is pervasive.

I managed to fix a meal today and go to church tonight. It is a struggle to face each new day.Image result for journal

MAYBE THERE IS A PLACE FOR ME

For several weeks now, I have been feeling that I needed to find a way to answer the call of God on my heart. It has been there from the time I was a 14-year-old boy. As I read the scriptures the desire to preach and teach still burns in my heart. But, with my present standing in the Church, I have felt disqualified. Then, a couple of Sundays ago a very redemptive thing happened.

One of the pastors on staff at our church and I have talked from time to time in a veryImage result for invited into a group informal way about my situation. Recently, I sensed the need to make that conversation more formal and detailed. I caught him outside the worship center right as the service was getting started. We were alone in the hall, which for a church of 3,000 is very unusual.

I poured out my heart to him about the calling for which I still carried a burden. Tears came to my eyes and my voice broke with emotion. That was quite unexpected. In the brief time I had to open my soul to him, I noticed he looked at me with compassion and understanding. He then said, “We believe in redemption around here.” I wanted to shout.

A few days later I met with him in his office and told my story. Again, the same words poured from his heart from his lips through my ears and to my heart. He was open to the idea of me teaching a spiritual growth section in the future and we tentatively scheduled a time. I left rejoicing in the amazing grace of God.

I am well aware that some sins and offenses are permanently disqualifying from the ministry a person had before their fall. In my case, it is doubtful that I will ever pastor again. But, does that mean an individual may never again use his/her gifts and talents in some type of ministry? I think not.

Although I have read II Corinthians multiple times during my time following Jesus, I failed to notice Paul’s successful use of church discipline.

The person that Paul told the Corinthian church to “deliver” to Satan (See I Corinthians 5:1-5) had apparently repented and been restored to fellowship with Christ. Paul takes note of this and tells the church “to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow.” And they were to reaffirm their love for him. (II Corinthians 2:5-8)

I wonder how many repentant people have slipped away again after experiencing suspicion and rejection at the hands of their church.  Too many times we forget that the aim of church discipline is never to punish, but to be redemptive. We, of course, feel sorrow at the need for discipline, but we do not regret it. And we are to rejoice when that discipline results in repentance and restoration to fellowship with God. We need to hear and see more rejoicing.

Since that meeting with one of the church pastors, my mind has been racing with ideas for promotion and lessons. I am so thankful that there is a church that chooses to rejoice over me. And I am rejoicing over this ministry opportunity.

 

The LORD be with you.

MONDAY’S PRAYER

Prayers for our children from the book of Proverbs.


Our good, great, and almighty Father, God, and King, I pray that our children and grandchildren will accept Your correction. Help them to understand that You discipline those whom You love. And that while it may be unpleasant for a moment it is for their good. Rather than despise or detest Your chasing let them embrace it and welcome theRelated image lessons they will learn, the character they will develop, the growth in grace they will experience, and the pain they will avoid in the future. May they always sense Your love and know that You take delight in those who obey You. Remind them that obedience is a condition of discipleship and fellowship with You. Give them willing hearts to follow the whole counsel of God and not just that which is easy or convenient.

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, Amen.

From Proverbs 3:11-12

 

FRIDAY’S JOURNAL

From Depression to Remission 

The recorded feelings and experiences of one man with severe depression. 


Journal entry for September 27, 2014

It was a rough night. I had several nightmares accompanied by crying and talking in my sleep. I relived my mother’s death.

Image result for journal

LETTER’S FROM JAIL #9-B

Suffering from severe depression, experiencing extreme paranoia, and during a dissociativeletters from jail 6 episode I committed some crimes. Although I don’t remember much of what I did, I took and take full responsibility for my actions. I accepted a plea deal that resulted in a 360-day sentence served in the Hopkins County Jail in Kentucky. These letters are a record of my journey and recovery both mentally and spiritually. They are offered to you as written with only minor editing. It is my prayer that through my experience you may find hope and help.

Began June 27, 2013

Dear F__________

6/28

I value your friendship. The person I knew back in high school is still very much at the core of who you are today. I admire your spirit, appreciate your wisdom, wonder at your resilience, and enjoy your letters.

If you are anything like me you fear the expectations of others. Do they expect perfection? That is only in the future for any of us. We panic. We worry. We do dumb things. We raise our voices in anger. We have fears, insecurities, and questions about ourselves. Obviously, I am not flawless as my current situation testifies. But, it is good that we know our weaknesses and are able to admit them. That is the only way we can begin to grow in grace and maturity.

I’m thankful that you are not a shallow person. There is a depth to you that I greatly admire. Some people are a mile wide and an inch deep. You, on the other hand, have deep pools of wisdom, experience, faith, and spirituality. Although the core of who we are today is rooted in our childhood, we are not the same teenagers that met in high school.

You asked about what kind of food I like. Well, I’m not real fond of fast food. I will eat healthy when it is offered or available. (I do like chocolate.) I like fish, fresh or salt water, – not breaded unless it is catfish – and salads. Wendy’s is my favorite fast food. Papa John’s is my favorite franchise pizza. I like beef and other red meat. (Do you know why a rump roast is called a rump roast? Because no one would eat cow’s butt.) I like fowl, fruit, cooked and/or raw vegetables, whole grain breads, brown rice, beans, etc. I like baked over fried. I like farmer’s markets and local shops when they are available and affordable. I like to top my salads with fat-free dressings and low-fat cottage cheese. I like skim milk, water, lemonade, and sweet tea. (I can’t stand diet drinks.)


6/29

My timing for renewing an acquaintance with an old high school friend is off, perhaps even bad. But, I’m so thankful you are not repulsed by my circumstances and continue to correspond with me.

I woke up today about 3:00 AM with tears forming in my eyes for my family, especially A_____ and my grandchildren. Will they ever understand? Thank you for your prayers.

One of the men, S_____, lost his mother last week. He couldn’t go to the funeral. He appears contemplative. I’ve talked to him a couple of times. It’s hard to accept that time and life moves on for others while it is standing still for you.

F_____, M_____ is not your failure. You must not shoulder all the burden yourself. Trust in God and realize there is time yet. Don’t feel bad about being tired or feeling overwhelmed. Jesus healed many, but He didn’t heal them all. You can’t do it all. I hear your frustration. I feel the ache of your heart. Look up. God is able. There is hope. Help is available.

They reordered my meds, thank the Lord. I’ve seen them pull people off meds without any exam or reason. So far, I’m doing well.

I got to witness to one of the guys in the yard today. He shared with me his experience. He, along with a couple of others, are first timers. By now, I’m an old veteran.

Time for bed. Four o’clock comes early tomorrow. Good night.


6/30

I went to church today. There were three speakers. It reminds me of my first sermon. There were four speakers – none of us spoke more than five minutes. These guys spoke more than that. The first two were pretty good.

We had communion, too. The chaplain’s communion services take some getting used to, especially for a high church liturgy and solemnity fellow like myself.

A couple of nights ago one of the guys wanted someone to sing him to sleep. I started singing:

Great is Thy faithfulness O God my Father. There is no shadow of turning with Thee. Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not. As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness. Great is Thy faithfulness. Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.

They clapped. (I entertain them talking in my sleep, too.)

Happy birthday. My heart is saddened for you because of your first birthday without G_____. Just feel assured that you are a very, very special person to many more than you might imagine. I pledge to remember you on your birthday as will dozens of others, I’m sure.

From what you told me about your co-worker’s incident, I guess it was a good thing that the police were not called. I called the police in my case, but I didn’t have the strength to hold on until they got there. I broke. It’s a blessing that your co-worker could walk back from the edge. I couldn’t.

Like you, I didn’t believe in divorce either. I tried for 14 years to save my marriage, but only one person wanted to save it. I should of . . . I wish I’d . . . Simply put, I tried to do the right thing, but . . . Tell your co-worker to not lose herself in trying to save her marriage.

Thank you for sharing your heart with me.

Sincerely,

Jay

 

The LORD be with you.