Third Watch

"It seems like it comes out of nowhere," my husband remarked. To him, my depression must be like an anvil falling from the sky, with me being the unlucky Wile Coyote. I think most people are unaware of the mental gymnastics I go through on a daily basis to stay functional. Depression isn't an anvil, it's a bowling ball that I've been asked to carry across the desert. Some days, it's quite manageable. Others, I can barely grasp it in my sweating hands. But it is there, every day, a weight that grows heavier until my muscles give out. So when I'm crushed beneath it, it doesn't feel random or surprising. It feels inevitable. It's simply not possible to keep such a force at bay for long. 

That being said, I still hate feeling this way. I hate the sound of my own voice as I repeatedly tell my children to be quiet. I hate knowing that I'm being unfair in all my interactions, treating people like burdens instead of blessings. I hate having to talk myself through every minute of the day, forcing myself just to get out of bed. I hate that my emotions seem to be reduced to either sadness or anger. I hate that I usually choose the anger, knowing that it's easier for me but harder for those around me.

I also know that it won't last forever. For better or worse, depression is old hat at this point, and I've developed something of a recovery routine. I ignore all of my own depressing thoughts, no matter how reasonable or real they seem to be. I make myself get out of the house, if only to allow my children to interact with someone healthier than I. I work out. Running seems to be powerful as preventive medicine, but by no means curative once I'm already in the depths of depression. Still, the endorphins help for a few hours. I pray. And then one day, I feel a little better. 

I used to think that if I paid attention, I could pinpoint some activity that did the trick- that brought me out of it. But that isn't the case. I've learned that for me, it's more like the story of Jesus on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus and his disciples were on the Sea of Galilee when a sudden storm arose. Jesus slept while the disciples labored all through the night to keep the vessel from sinking. It wasn't until the third watch that Jesus awoke and calmed the seas. When things are really hard for me, I tell myself that this is the third watch. That if I labor all through the night and have faith, He will come and calm the storm. So for now, I labor and wait.  {image via}


Janae said...

Wow, this is a beautiful yet painful post to read. A part of me just wants to make it all go away for you. But then, I know that for some reason depression is there for you, and that God wouldn't give you trials you couldn't handle. I commend you for looking to God for help. I know that He can heal us.

That being said, I feel like I'm learning more about myself through you--maybe because we're related, maybe because you write/describe so well. All I know is, I have a tough time having a positive attitude. But if you can keep going through depression, than I can keep trying to change my thoughts to be better. Thank you for inspiring me to keep trying.

Roderick Hansen said...

Janae, you said that beautifully, that's exactly how I felt reading her post. Sad for her and proud of her. And I must say, getting to know you as an adult thru your blog and your comments here has been a delight. You've grown up into a beautiful, strong and intelligent woman. I always knew about the beauty, but your consistant calm and spiritual strength has been a wonderful discovery. I like seeing you so steady in the wind. You've turned into someone I'd want to get to know, even if we weren't related. ~ (Tosh's mom)

Marcee Lyn Ballantyne Foster said...

I'm really at a loss for words, which, unfortunately and sometimes embarrassingly, is pretty unusual for me. I don't think I talk too much as a general rule, but I know that I NEVER lack for something to say. And when I get nervous or embarrassed, I always say too much. That being said, I had to let you know how heart wrenching this last 30 minutes has been for me. I got your email with a link to the info on buying running shoes. At first I was a little confused, but as I explored a little more, I realized it was your blog! Suddenly I was lost in this world that I had no idea existed. I felt like I knew you and it seemed that we had grown closer over the past few years but this... I guess there isn't much time for intimate discussions during the insane extended family gatherings; especially in a family so devoid of emotional sharing. Don't get me wrong- I absolutely adore our new shared family. But there is no denying the lack of intimate, spiritual conversation.

A few months ago, when I was privileged to attend the blessing of your third baby, I did get a tiny glimpse of the things that you deal with as you shared your beautifully poignant testimony. I felt so much more of a connection with you as you opened up to the whole congregation. I was surprised because so often you seemed to be so withdrawn and even very closed at times. I also felt shame; shame that I could have been so close and yet have been so unavailable to you through the difficult times that you alluded to. I felt a strong desire at that point to be more of a sister to you than I had been in the past. But then I walked out of that church building and life happened again...

Now, as I have pored through your entries and finally gotten to this one, I feel the shame rising once again. So I wanted to tell you how sorry I am. I'm sorry that I haven't been a real friend, a sister, as I should have been. I'm not sure how I can make up for all of the lost time but I will try. Please know that I am always here, with a willing ear and a compassionate shoulder. I know that we are so different in so many ways but I also know that often two very different people can be very good friends. We are sisters (whether by blood or by marriage, there should be no difference!). So if you are ever having your moments where you just need someplace to go outside of your own walls, come here! Come and let the kids play and we can sit and talk. Or if you don't feel like talking about it, I am always up for a field trip with the kids! I'm even up for babysitting if you really need a break! Please don't ever feel like I am too busy. Despite the fact that my life is a serious whirlwind right now, I will always make time for you.

There is one more thing. About the last cabin trip... Lance and I were talking it over on the drive home and I was telling him how I had felt like it wasn't the best bonding trip. It seemed that there were more silly issues than normal (or maybe I was just more irritable). Whatever the case, I was more than ready to go home when the time came. Then that whole incident of cleaning the bathrooms cropped up. I wasn't angry at Mark for asking me to clean that bathroom; I guess I felt more picked on than anything. I felt like he had asked me of all people because he knew that I wouldn't say no- even though in all reality, it really wasn't fair. So when I walked into that bathroom and saw you cleaning it, I really did almost cry. What a beautiful, selfless act of kindness that was! I would've left the cabin with a bad taste in my mouth but you changed all of that. You didn't have to do it. Nobody had asked you to. You could've done just as everybody else did and just told me how unfair it was but not do anything about it. I never would've thought anything of it. So THANK YOU! You inspired me to be more giving, more helpful, and more thoughtful. You really did change that trip for me.

Well, now I am emotionally exhausted from this outpour. :) Let's get together soon.

R-E said...

wow this is a really amazing post. it left tears in my eyes, especially after reading your comments. how are you so able to describe depression so well? i have a really hard time putting it into any words. i'm really amazed at your faith as well. that is one of the hardest things for me.i am SO happy i found your blog!

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