Living with depression

A week ago I came to the realization that I will be open about what it means to live with depression. And, for me, with extreme anxiety. I am on medication for both but that only levels me out – it is not a cure. I have tried for years to hide it – to put on the happy face and, unfortunately, let the people whom I am closed to suffer from my hiding. I have treated the people I love worst of all because I was completely me – a horrible person out of control. No intent but I naively thought that I could be me with these people.

So … depression hurts. Life is dark, painful, lonely (not in the sense of being physically alone but being misunderstood). I rarely have any idea what I am feeling and often have completely opposite feelings at the same time. My mind is full of ideas and feelings that battle inside my head. It is a little like someone yelling at you in your head while outside you are smiling. Everyday things are a battle – getting up, eating, taking care of myself. And, unfortunately, those closest to me have taken the worst of it. It has taken time and space for me to see that and to be fully, truly, sorry for my behavior. And that makes me cry!

I have no excuse! I have no reason for my behavior. And I will be honest that often there seems only one way out. (I have a very understanding counsellor and some incredible friends whom I have made a deal with to not hurt myself without speaking to them.) I do not want to die (death is very final) but I want the pain to stop. I do not want attention or sympathy but I want to be open about every aspect. And when I was open about it (to my doctor and to my counsellor) life changed.

There are other aspects that I will write about some other time. Except to say that in the midst of it all there is always people who encourage me and take care of me (spiritually and physically). Random people who encourage, people who smile.

So I am going to keep writing about it.

God’s mercy

The thief on the cross certainly did not receive
the Kingdom of Heaven as a reward for his virtues
but as a grace and a mercy from God.
He can serve as an authentic witness
that our salvation is given to us
only by God’s mercy and grace.

John Cassian

Yesterday’s word was “love” for me, today it is “mercy”. God’s mercy towards me and also my mercy towards me. I like the Cassian quote. God gives Himself in His mercy – the thing I cannot do, He does completely. There is lots bouncing around my head but I want to come back to God’s mercy.

The Chosen

So I am a little late but I just finished watching the first season of The Chosen. And while I am not normally a fan of religious movies and TV – I often find them overly pious and idealised – I loved the humanness of The Chosen.

The disciples are real – real problems, real relationships, real concerns. Jesus is very human – dancing, eating, cooking, walking. I think the strength of the series is the way it shows real people struggling with their faith in real contexts. These are not white-washed saints without spot. Simon’s sin are opening and his struggle is real. And it shows confusion and questions. For me it shows a person-to-person relationship with Jesus as the center of a life of faith. The disciples are human when they and Jesus travel together – “Follow me”. I identified with Matthew’s confusion and “weirdness”. Faith does not take you outside of life but allows you to enter into it fully.

So I am looking forward to more. And I might watch it again!

Solitude – hidden in Jesus

Life has drastically changed for me in the last month. I find myself alone a lot of the time. I am not saying that is negative – I am alone but rare lonely. I have come to embrace this solitude as a way of life. I enjoy when I am with people – I like being of service to other people, especially in their walk with Jesus. Yet these times drain me. And I return to the hiddenness to recharge with Jesus. I enjoy people but I also needs the moments of solitude and silence.

There is something about solitude and silence that means I am hidden in Jesus – not visible to the world, not engaged in the world’s desires and passions. I have my own passion – faith. I have my own time – prayer. I am flexible in how my day moves but it always has the same elements – prayer, meditation, reading, physical needs.

I have stopped listening to music as much. I eat alone – sometimes listening to an audiobook, sometimes simply listening to the birds and the trees. I take a walk alone. Is it a vocation? I do not know.

Morning Prayer

I thank you, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.

Luther’s Morning Prayer

Prayer and Solitude

I have had a lot of time by myself. Sometimes I read, sometimes I listen to Thomas Merton’s talks to the novices, and sometimes I just sit and pray. I have enjoyed the simplicity of life. I have been trying to use APBA for Morning and Evening Prayer, and also Compline. I like the simplicity of it. No long readings and complicated prayers, with page turning and confusion. Simplicity and now-presence.

Tonight we start our online Lenten Study. It is a journey through the First Epistle of John. I know God has called me in a special way to witness to Him – not so much “teach” but to share with others insights on the spiritual life – to share the simplicity of Jesus. I like getting along-side people and journey with them. Yes, my anxiety and depression make it an overwhelming experience but God has placed people in my life to help and encourage. And, together with other people, always to journey to Jesus!

I have been reading some articles on Kierkegaard and imitation and contemporarility. Again presence of Jesus – “Given for you”. A relationship of person to Person. A relationship in the “now”.

So I am using the gift God has given me – solitude – to love. And to simply rest in Jesus.

Australian Daily Prayer

I just wanted to share this website:

Australian Daily Prayer

It has Morning and Evening Prayer from the current Australian Prayer Book. It is a useful introduction into praying using the Prayer Book. It also has a solid selection of Scripture readings.

After many years of trying, changing, adjusting, Prayer Books to suit me I have come to the conclusion that it is much more important to pray – and using a Prayer Book suits me – than ‘how’ one prays. God hears the heart!

Welcome back?

I have not written in quite some time. Life moves pretty quickly sometimes and it gives little room for reflection. So I am hoping to use this a little to reflect on life. And to reflect on what I am reading. I know Kierkegaard would hate my use of “reflect”! What I mean is to subjectively explore what the meaning for me is of what I read. The force is for me and for me alone.

So here is a quote from SK I read in a book on Carthusians at Parkminster:

“Of this there is no doubt, our age and Protestantism in general may need the monastery again, or wish it were there.  The “monastery” is an essential dialectical element in Christianity.  We therefore need it out there like a navigation buoy at sea in order to see where we are, even though I myself would not enter it.  But if there really is true Christianity in every generation, there must also be individuals who have this need…”

Christianity needs individuals who stand against the crowd. And if this standing against the crowd involves some form of monasticism – some form of separateness for Jesus – than Christianity has need for this. I want to think about that more!

Collect for Feast (Sep 8)

This is the Collect by the Episcopal Church:

Heavenly Father, whose beloved Son Jesus Christ felt sorrow and Dread in the Garden of Gethsemane: help us to remember that, even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death and desolation, thou art ever with us; that, encouraged by the writings of Soren Kierkegaard and others, we may believe where we have not seen, trust where we cannot test, and so come at last to the eternal joy which thou hast prepared for us, through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever.

Wish List

Here is my wish list of Kierkegaard books in order.

  1. Kierkegaard’s Writings, XV: Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits
  2. Kierkegaard’s Writings, V: Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses 
  3. Kierkegaard’s Writings, VII: Philosophical Fragments or a Fragment of Philosophy/Johannes Climacus, or De omnibus dubitandum est (Two books in one volume)
  4. Kierkegaard’s Writings, XXII: The Point of View
  5. Kierkegaard’s Writings, X: Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions 
  6. Kierkegaard’s Writings, XIV: Two Ages: ‘The Age of Revolution’ and the ‘Present Age’: A Literary Review 
  7. Kierkegaard’s Writings, XXI: For Self-Examination / Judge For Yourself!
  8. Kierkegaard’s Writings, XXIV, Volume 24: The Book on Adler
  9. Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy)