FRIDAY’S JOURNAL

One man’s journey from depression to remission.


October 23-24, 2014

Bad dreams again last night. I forgot to take my Trazadone. The day was spent putting in applications and mowing the yard. There were three other jobs that came up on my site, but I lack the motivation to do anything about them. I think my brother is gettingDeskJournal_Acadia_Tan_5625x7875_029402 impatient with my inability to find work.

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THE LANGUAGE OF DEPRESSION

There is a character in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible that understands me. He experienced deep grief, severe depression, dark despair, and a crisis of faith. My loss has no comparison to his, but he uses the language of my pain.

Last week I wrote about Job’s (pronounced “Joe-b”) grief. Today I want to focus on his language of what is now called “complicated grief” and severe depression.Image result for job in the bible

First, let me highlight the similarities of and differences between grief and depression. Both include intense sadness, insomnia, poor appetite, and weight loss. Complicated grief often includes anger, irritability, difficulty with acceptance of the loss, and excessive focus on or complete avoidance of the object of their pain.

Depression, however, differs in that it does not dissipate with time and is not relieved when surrounded by friends and family. Depression is persistent. Grief occurs in cycles of intensity and is often triggered by memories and reminders. Depression is constant. Pervasive.

Depression also includes guilt not associated with grief. Suicidal ideations apart from thoughts of wanting to join the deceased. Feelings of worthlessness. Interruptions in or difficulties with activities of daily living.

Job had both the characteristics of complicated grief and severe depression. Hear him speak.

“May the day of my birth perish, and the night that said, ‘A boy is conceived.’” Job’s mood was so depressed that he wished he had not been born. He goes on to say he wished the day of his birth would turn to “darkness” and “no light shine on it.” He doesn’t want his birthday celebrated. He would rather it be wiped off the calendar never to come again.

In his depression he wishes his days could be shortened because they “end without hope.” He feels like his “eyes will never see happiness again.”

Severe depression robs the light, the sparkle from your eyes. Recently, my son bemoaned the fact that I was not there for him during his growing years. He is right. My body was there, but my spirit was, at best, on life support. I spent all my energy going to work and trying to stay alive. When I got home I had nothing left to give.

More than once Job’s testy mood is demonstrated by lashing out at his friends with sarcasm. “Doubtless you are the only people who matter, and wisdom will die with you!” he says. Sadness, emptiness, hopelessness dogged his days.

Job speaks the words of a depressed mood: gloom, clouds, blackness, barren, cursed, vain, trouble. He speaks my language.

“I despise my life; I would not live forever. Let me alone; my days have no meaning,” Job utters. All interest in life is gone. Pleasure is but an allusion to him. His days are spent with pain in body and spirit. His days go by, “without a glimpse of joy.” For Job, life has become a withering flower and a passing shadow. What time remains will be “full of trouble.”

There is no purpose in living. All is sorrow. What joy, what pleasure, what happiness may be present is hidden beneath the anguish of his pain.

My father shattered his left hand and forearm and broke his back in an accident in 1981. He was 55. His injuries were so severe that he was forced to retire on disability. It broke him. For the next year he sat in a chair thinking that life was over. He eventually recovered his spirit. But from time to time he would say, “Son, do you know how much money I’d be making if I was still working?” Part of the life he loved was dead. And years later he still mourned its passing.

Job speaks the language of a man who has lost interest or pleasure in life and in life’s activities. He speaks my language.    

For Job the days are long and his nights are longer, “How long before I get up? The night drags on and I toss and turn until dawn.” Insomnia robs him of the rest he needs to cope and recover. There is no comfort to be found in his bed. What little sleep he gets is troubled by frightening dreams and terrifying visions.

I suppose I have expressed about every emotion in my sleep – fear, anger, sadness, joy . . . I have cried. Laughed. Kicked. Punched. Preached. Screamed. Pled for help. Defended. Been aggressive. Just this past week my wife had to wake me because I was fighting in my sleep. At times my family can be quite entertained by my night-time antics. At other times it is frightening and dangerous.

Job speaks the language of a man with insomnia. “My face is red with weeping; dark shadows ring my eyes.” He speaks my language.

“I am guilty – woe is me! . . . I cannot lift my head, for I am full of shame.” Feelings of worthlessness and guilt burden the spirit of Job. “When I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness. The churning inside me never stops; days of suffering confront me.”

Guilt can actually be a good thing. But this is not the beneficial kind of guilt. It is excessive. Inappropriate. Self-loathing.

Job speaks the language of a man tortured by the pangs of guilt and the sting of shame. “My days are past; my plans are shattered.” He speaks my language. 

Fatigue and loss of energy have taken their toll on Job. “What strength do I have, that I should still hope?”

Job speaks the language of a man robbed of his vigor and struggling in the morass of exhaustion. “My life ebbs away; days of suffering grip me. Night pierces my bones; my gnawing pains never rest.” He speaks my language. 

“Yet the desires of my heart turn night into day; in the face of the darkness light is near.” Somewhere in the depths of complicated grief and severe depression, a candle of hope is still burning in the soul of Job.

If it were not for hope, I could never walk in my shoes through the many precipices of recurring clinical depression. Hope keeps me alive.

Job speaks the language of a man with hope. However dim. However small. Hope shines. He speaks my language.

(Next week I will write about The Language of Despair.)

Thank you for reading

The LORD be with you.

Jay

MONDAY’S PRAYER

#Prayers for our children from the book of #Proverbs.


From #Proverbs 6:12-15

O Lord my God and my King, You are worthy to receive praise and honor and glory forever. Let my children and grandchildren stand before You. Save them from worthlessness. From wickedness. From perversity. Cause them to not wink at #sin or be dismissive of its risks or effects. Keep them from shuffling their feet in indecision when it comes to doing wrong. Rather than pointing their finger in notice of and enjoyment in transgressions, help them to turn away strongly and swiftly. Keep them from trifling with or playing around the edges of #sin. Deliver them from a perverse heart, evil devices, and seeds of discord. Open their eyes to both the immediate, long term, and eternal consequences of wickedness. Preserve them from the calamity and brokenness of #sin. If #sin, God forbid, should overtake them and/or breaks them. Convict them. Hear their confession. Acknowledge their repentance. Redeem them from the gates of hell. Restoreboy-prayer-dad them to fellowship with You.

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

FRIDAY’S JOURNAL

One man’s journey from depression to remission.


October 22, 2014

It was nice not to have any bad #dreams last night. Five straight nights with bad and violent #dreams doesn’t give me much confidence for the day. We talked about #values atDeskJournal_Acadia_Tan_5625x7875_029402 group today. I couldn’t help but feel that an awful lot of my #values have been compromised because of my #depression.

THE LANGUAGE OF THE GRIEVING

There is a character in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible that understands me. He experienced deep grief, severe depression, dark despair, and a crisis of faith. My loss has no comparison to his, but he uses the language of my pain.

I know I have read the book of Job (pronounced “Joe-b”) multiple times during the 44 years I have been a Jesus follower. And I am certain that I have read it several more times as a whole since my depression went clinical in 1999. But, my most recent reading that ended a few weeks ago left the most profound influence on me.

I was struck by the deep grief he experienced at the loss of his children, possessions, and prestige.Image result for Job in the bible

One day a servant breathlessly ran toward Job and announced that all his oxen and donkeys were stolen and the farmers attending them killed. While he was yet speaking another servant rushed in with a declaration that all Job’s sheep and shepherds were destroyed in a fire. Standing in line was a third servant proclaiming that his camels were taken and his camelestrians slain. Finally, a fourth came and announced the worst news of all. Job’s five children were dead as a result of the collapsed structure they were in. A mighty wind off the desert was the cause.

In the time it took for four men to report their tragic tales to Job, he went from being the wealthiest man in his community to the poorest. The most respected citizen to the most ridiculed. And from a happy father to a one in great mourning.

In this pathetic state Job was further afflicted “with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head.” Our minds can barely fathom the catastrophic emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical crisis such events would cause. Job describes the events as “dreadful” and expresses his “anguish of spirit” and “bitterness of soul.”

Although most of us have never and will never experience this kind of tragic devastation, we have all lost. Loved ones have died. Careers have ended. Marriages have dissolved. Dreams have been crushed. Health has ebbed away.

Personally, I went from respect to disdain. A comfortable living to abject poverty. A healthy savings to literally, not figuratively, literally not having two pennies to rub together. A house full of possessions to fitting everything that was left into a 2000 Ford Mustang convertible.  My marriage dissolved. I went to jail. Gone! It was all gone.

Job speaks the language of the grieving. Dreadful. Anguish of spirit. Bitterness of soul. He spoke my language.

Beyond this, Job lost his standing in the community. He cried, “People open their mouths to jeer at me.” He was treated with “scorn.” Citizens used to “step aside” when they saw him. They “rose to their feet” when he passed. Listened when he spoke. Commended him for his gracious work among the poor. But now he is “mocked.” “Disdained.” He has become a “byword.” Residents “keep their distance” and “spit” in his face. Society has decided “no one can help him.”

Do you know how embarrassing it is for an educated man with two master’s degrees to have to ask for food stamps and shop at a food bank? How humiliating it is to need medical assistance with no means to pay? How devastating it is to beg for a job at minimum wage? How degrading it is to have to take a driving test because you have been hospitalized in a psychiatric unit? How lonely you are? Hiding your illness because people do not understand mental health.

Job mourns for the loss of what he was. His verbs become past tense as he recounts the loss of dreams, peace, influence, authority, reputation, and standing. “I was.” “I thought.” “I had.”  We that have experienced the loss of reputation as a result of our mental illness grieve. Like Job we fear that we will never be at peace again. We will never be the people we were. Listen to our cry for understanding when we join in chorus with Job, “Have pity on me, my friends, have pity.”

Job speaks the language of the grieving. Tormented. Crushed. Reproached. Attacked. Humiliated. Alienated. Estranged. Forgotten. Scorned. Ridiculed. Detested. Loathed. He spoke my language.

Job groaned within at the loss of his children, possessions, and prestige. Then he lost his friends. I noticed the narrative of Job’s “comforters” went from identification – they sat in silence with him for seven days and nights. To gentle persuasion and reason. Then increasingly hostile until their speech is filled with personal attacks. Job is accused of pride, godlessness, ill-gotten gain, oppression of the poor, covetousness, wickedness, thievery, and selfishness.

The quickest way to silence someone is to attack their integrity. Going personal destroys. Like an exploding bomb filled with deadly shrapnel it maims, cripples, and kills. Rarely is there an effective way to defend against it. Job begs his accusers to “reconsider, for my integrity is at stake.” Undeterred they press on.

Tell me, how do you repent for an illness? How do you ask forgiveness for a disease? How do you confess something over which you had no control?

Job speaks the language of the grieving. “You are miserable comforters.” “Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune.” “How can you console me with your nonsense?” “Mock on.” He spoke my language.

Sprinkled throughout Job’s tears of profound grief are glimmers of hope. Faith is still present as he declares, “Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high.” Hope revives in the midst of his pain as he shouts, “I know that my redeemer lives . . . and in my flesh I will see God.”

Job speaks the language of hope. Faith and hope live on. He spoke my language.

(Next week I will write about The Language of the Depressed.)

Thank you for reading.

The LORD be with you.

Jay

MONDAY’S PRAYER

Prayers for our children from the book of Proverbs


Proverbs 6:6-11

Our Father who art in heaven, Your eyes never close. You slumber not nor sleep. You are always watching. Never surprised. Never caught off guard. Always aware. I pray that my children and grandchildren will set a watch over their souls and not let their spirit slip into slumber. Awaken their hearts and minds to the temptations of leisure. Make them aware of the danger of laziness. Aimlessness. And satisfaction with mediocrity. Help them reach their full potential. First and foremost spiritually. In their character. In their relationships. In their service. And in their profession. May they be industrious and do their labors as unto the LORD. Whether their work be menial or great. Unnoticed or renown. Unrewarding or prosperous. In all that they do let them do it to the glory of God. Teach them through nature and good human examples the dignity of labor and theboy-prayer-dad satisfaction that comes with contentment.

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

FRIDAY’S JOURNAL

One man’s journey from depression to remission.


October 21, 2014

I dreamed about break-up sex last night. I hate sex dreams. They make me very uncomfortable. I also dreamed about trying to reconcile with my youngest son. It wasDeskJournal_Acadia_Tan_5625x7875_029402 not successful. I had a job interview today and two calls from headhunters. The doctor increased my Trazadone.

THE KAVANAUGH SAGA: SOME OBSERVATIONS

This first paragraph is a disclaimer. If you expect me to be partisan. Take one side or the other. Castigate either Judge Kavanaugh, Dr. Ford, or any of the other players. Or draw a conclusion. You will be sorely disappointed. With that, I will proceed.

I’m a political junky. My first remembrance of being involved in politics is when my dad took me to watch the returns come in at the Democratic election headquarters at the YWCA in my home town. I was about six or seven. I’ve been hooked ever since.

I watched the entire testimonies of Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. Read and listened to the news. Read Facebook posts and Tweeter feeds. The following are my observations.

Image result for kavanaugh ford

  • THE TRUTH DOESN’T MATTER

Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats were interested in hearing the truth or getting at the truth.

The Republicans spent their allotted time trying to punch holes in Dr. Ford’s testimony. Does taking a plane ride and then not taking a plane ride really determine a person’s credibility? Is a 15-year-old really expected to know dates, addresses, names, and how to get from one place to another in metropolitan Washington D.C.? None of the questions were meant to discover truth. They were meant to trip up Dr. Ford.

The Democrats spent their time asking for an FBI investigation. They didn’t seem to care that Judge Kavanaugh had a detailed calendar of events for the summer of 1982. They dismissed that no one mentioned by Dr. Ford could collaborate the details of her story. The script was clear – hammer the FBI investigation into the ground.

No one appeared to care a whip-stitch about the truth. What a pity!

TRUTH IS DEAD.

  • DR. FORD WAS CLEARLY TRAUMATIZED BY SOMEONE SOMEWHERE

My impression of Dr. Ford was that she was a trauma survivor. She showed the signs of a person that had been threatened or harmed with death or serious injury. Her demeanor was one of fear. Two front doors on her house was evidence enough for me that she experiences serious anxiety issues. The effort it takes for her to get on a plane was another sign.

Dr. Ford is a trauma survivor.

TRAUMA IS REAL.

  • PEOPLE ARE VERY IGNORANT ABOUT TRAUMA

“Is the woman still traumatized after 35 years? I’m sure she isn’t,” wrote one of my Facebook friends. It demonstrates his lack of understanding of the nature of trauma.

Ask a World War II, Korean War, or Vietnam combat veteran if they still have nightmares after more than 35 years. Jump at certain sounds. Get edgy if someone walks up on them suddenly and unexpectedly.

Ask a rape survivor if they are still cautious after 35 years.

Ask someone who has had a near death experience at the hands of a violent person if they still break out in sweats at night after 35 years.

I am well acquainted with a woman who was molested as a child. It happened nearly 50 years ago. To this day she is apprehensive when she’s around men, especially if they are unknown to her. She continues to have an exaggerated startle reflex. Yes, after more than 35 years, she is still traumatized.

You don’t “just get over” trauma. For some it is a lifetime journey.

THE EFFECTS OF TRAUMA LAST A LONG TIME

  • PEOPLE ARE VERY IGNORANT ABOUT BLACKOUTS

According to the Student Health Services website (Accredited by Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, INC.) a person can slur their words. Stagger. And be belligerent and aggressive. Without having a blackout from alcohol consumption.

According to their alcohol consumption calculator. A 200-pound man would have to consume. Eight 12-ounce beers with 4.5% alcohol content. In a one-hour period. Before getting into danger of a blackout.

This would give him a blood alcohol level of 0.14 to 0.17 (The legal limit for drunk driving is 0.08.) At this point a person “may experience a blackout.”

Judge Kavanaugh drank too much as a teen and young adult. But it is plausible that he did not consume enough alcohol to have a blackout.

Slurred words. Staggering. And hostility. Do not equal a blackout.

DRUNK ≠ BLACKOUT.

  • PEOPLE HAVE CHOSEN SIDES WITH VERY LITTLE EVIDENCE

One post came across my Facebook page saying, “Please pray for Judge Kavanaugh and his family!” I responded by saying we should pray for Dr. Ford as well and gave a few reasons why. The originator of the post took it down. Apparently, there is no compassion for people who threaten to topple your champion.

I have been very disappointed with my conservative and evangelical friends for their lack of empathy toward Dr. Ford and their ready willingness to tear her down in order to advance their agenda. I think I read somewhere that someone said, “Love your enemies.”

The left is no better. They are willing to judge a man on an accusation. Not because he is clearly guilty, but because he doesn’t represent their point of view.

Slay anyone who gets in your way. And to hell with my Christian faith and the evidence.

MY AGENDA IS ALL IMPORTANT AND PEOPLE BE DAMNED.

Oh, my friend, we need desperately to REPENT. And return to CIVILITY.

 

Thank you for reading.

The Lord be with you.

Jay

MONDAY’S PRAYER

Prayers for our children from the book of Proverbs.


Proverbs 6:1-5

Our Father, our God, and our Deliverer who frees us from the debt of sin through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. I pray for my children and grandchildren to be free from slavery to sin and forgiven of their debt of sin to You. Lord, keep them from the love of money. The quest for possessions. And any attempt to find satisfaction through the accumulation of houses, lands, and any other temporal thing. Save them from the servile slavery of debt. Let them not be a surety – a co-signer – for another’s debt. Cause them to stay unyoked to an unbeliever. Train them to be wise and cautious in their business dealings. Should they fall into the trap of debt, help them not to rest or slumber until they are free from its snare. Teach them to guard their words and give a promise or enter into a contract with prudence, warily, and seldom. Give them courage to humbleboy-prayer-dad themselves when they get in over their heads. Learn from their mistakes. Repent of their sins. And determine to never walk the path of indebtedness again.

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

FRIDAY’S JOURNAL

FROM DEPRESSION TO REMISSION

One man’s journey through severe depression.


October 20, 2014

These continual dreams of conflict with my ex-wife and the hopelessness of obtaining employment make for very restless nights. Oh, LORD, help me. I can feel myself startingDeskJournal_Acadia_Tan_5625x7875_029402 to slip. Feelings of worthlessness. Thoughts of death. I’m thankful for a faithful friend that is standing by me. I wish we lived closer to one another.