the monster

I heard some words yesterday that I have not heard applied to me before: Major Depressive Disorder. They were not directed to me – the doctor had to ring for permission for my medication and was asked for the diagnosis, “Major Depressive Disorder”.

Is it a little like giving a name to a monster? “But you look ok”.

To be honest, I feel like a fake. All of this is my choice and I am simply lazy. I am waiting for the moment that someone sees through it all and calls me out of it. I wondered if the doctor was going to do it yesterday.

So change in medication and see. That is my life now – change and wait and see.

hope?

Hope is a passion for the possible.

Fear and Trembling

While I think the above is from Fear and Trembling, I cannot actually find the quote. So, any help is welcome!

I remember once reading that the cruellest thing one human being can do to another is removing hope. To never see anything changing, to being stuck. Not stuck in the present as a good thing but rather being stuck in a deep dark hole without the possibility of ever escaping. Tomorrow – or the next moment – is simply more of the same.

At the moment I know what that feels like. I am acting and praying. But I know what it feels like to have all hope for tomorrow removed. The cruelty of it. All by the free choice of another, simply to hurt. I have taken my anti-anxiety tablets, tried to sit still and read, but the feeling is still there. I feel like I am falling into myself – into the black hole that is within me. And I cannot see it changing.

waiting

I was thinking yesterday, while in church, I am waiting. I am waiting to get better, to find some balance in life. I am waiting for people to act and react, for life to progress beyond the stalemate of the moment. I am waiting for things to become clear in my life, where I am going and what it is God wants from me.

I am not a person blessed with patience. My tablets, which offered so much help and comfort, have become burdensome. Yes, I sometimes forget to take them and then remember at the most awkward moment. My doctor has suggested moving to a different type of medication but I am terrified of the transition. Counselling has been a great help – I may say, life-saving – but I feel like I am simply going round in circles. I feel a sense of not being able to move beyond the past. Maybe I am just a ghost that is ignored?

So I am really not sure where I am at the moment. Writing this blog without aim? Grand schemes that never amount to anything? (That Pink Floyd line, “Plans that either come to nought or half a page of scribbled lines”.) I think if the Olympics included sleeping as a sport, I could win something.

I do not enjoy this “holding pattern” way of living. I know that I should live in the present, the now, but at the moment that is just a little too hard. I know people are using my stress and pain to their advantage. I know betrayal. But knowing and living are two different things.

So, anyway, life goes on.

vegan?

So I have been trying to eat vegan. Ok, I live in a house which is European and so I eat what is set before me which often includes lots of meat. But when I get to choose for myself, when I pick the food or the drink, I take the vegan or vegetarian option.

Nothing life-changing about that! I am no better or worse for making a choice of my food intact. But I have noticed that I think a lot more about the food I eat. I do not snack as much as I used to and I do not eat mindlessly to pass the time. And I think that is the spiritual side to it – I reflect before I eat rather than after. I think the “water and bread” diet of Medieval anchorites is a little too ascetic for me. And I do not live alone as yet so I still fit into the household.

I reflect and I notice the emotion before I eat. Yes, I am an emotional eater. I have a long list of comfort food – none of which is any good for me. Maybe this is all part of a change of life for me? More aware of who I am and what I do? I gave up alcohol more than a year ago. It reacts badly with my medicine. But, I admit, I sometimes still think about it with a hint of regret. I do not miss trying to hide the hangovers!

Yes, it is all about emotions for me. I would like to have a balance but I feel like it is just beyond reach at the moment. Yet naming it and facing it without the help of food (or alcohol) is part of maturing. And part of truly being me before God.

As long as I can still have tea!

resolution?

The conclusion of belief is no conclusion but a resolution, and thus doubt is excluded.

Kierkegaard.

Have I shared that SK quote? I feel I have.

I have been thinking about resolutions. Not the New Year’s resolution that I never keep. Resolutions that motivate life. I think the above is true for relationships in general – with Jesus and with others. A resolution may not always end in action (or appropriate action) but it will always try again. Is resolution an act of the will? So is a resolution related to love?

Anyhow, it is Saturday and I need to do something!

more?

I heard this song in the car on the way home from youth last night. I remember listening to it on repeat about this time last year. I was thinking it was a good(ish) Easter song!

I was thinking (in the car) that it is one thing to say you desire only Jesus (for the exclusion of others) and actually living it. I guess that is why it is a “sacrifice” in the Romans 12 sense?! And, in being alone for Jesus only, to love people for themselves and not for their usefulness.

I think it is Cassian who talks about the motivation behind people joining religious communities. Some for fear of the past (penitence), some waiting for a future (salvation), and a small number for the love of God now.

I was thinking that the desire to be alone can come from very selfish motivation. Either I am so bad that no one wants to be with me or I am so good that no one can come close to me. I often do things for completely wrong motives, even the good ones. How do I desire Jesus alone in a real sense in reality?

I am happiest alone: reading, praying, thinking. I have really discovered that in the last month or so. It makes me act different around people. (Ok, even more awkward than usual!) But is that self-defence because of chemicals in my brain or is it a spiritual calling?

anxiety?

So I have made some changes in my life. I think (maybe?!) I am ok with those decisions. But yesterday afternoon I had an anxiety attack. I know the signs and I know how to get through it without too much pain. I have strong physical symptoms (shaking and a sense of confusion) but breathing and being “real” normally restore some sense of balance.

I was reflecting on fear and anxiety. I once heard a sermon that stated (with much authority) that anxiety is just a stronger form of fear. It went on to speak about anxiety as a choice that people make and they can make an equal choice to simply not fear. I really struggle with that thought and the theology that backs it. In one sense, my anxiety is a physical response to chemicals in my head. In another sense, my anxiety is not like my fear.

In my experience anxiety is unfocused. Fear has an object – I am afraid of mice! But my anxiety is a general feeling of foreboding. It is not a fear of something but simply the feeling of being afraid. And, unlike my fear of mice from which I can walk away (that is, the mice), my anxiety is something inside me from which I cannot simply walk away.

So I am stuck with me. And that is the fundamental problem – me. Maybe at the root, my anxiety is all about my fear of people working out who I am? Or maybe it is simply my fear of me working out who I am? No matter what happens in life, one problem remains – me.

love?

Today’s sermon text was 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. I think the Vicar did a good job in trying to get her point across. It is one of those texts in which assumptions push their way into interpretation.

On the way home I was reflecting on the sermon. And I was struck by a pretty simple point: has love been a positive experience for me? In the sense of a human relationship that is truly human, has love been something that has shown God to me? The assumption when people speak about love – no matter how they may define it – is that it is a positive experience. The assumption is that being in love, being loved, is an experience that a human being would find fulfilling. I have felt love for other people but, on reflection, has it been love or infatuation? I have been, to quote a really poor song from the 80’s, “in love with love”?

I think I need to learn to love. I am not sure I have ever really known love in the sense of 1 Corinthians. Intellectually I understand that the love St Paul is speaking about is embodied in Jesus. And to Him I look! But in the sense of a human relationship, the paradox of being loved, I am not sure I have ever really experienced love.

Sorry if that is a bit of a downer. I know I will see things differently tomorrow – I always see things differently tomorrow.

feelings

So here is an insight to me – I feel things very deeply but I rarely tell people how I feel. I think I have been conditioned to act that way but also I am not comfortable or confident enough to express myself. Interestingly, with word confident comes from two Latin words, “with” and “faith”. In the end, I do not have enough faith in myself – in the mystery and paradox that is “me” – to freely express my feelings to others.

I think that is also true about religion. I have tried to explain it rather than feeling it. Or rather, I have believed in something rather than someone. Maybe I am conditioned by a culture that elevates the intellectual over the emotional? Maybe I am too self-involved to see past my own nose? All the rational arguments for the spiritual does not make it a religion.

I was thinking today that the religion I have tried to enact and live is a pseudoscience of the metaphysical. Maybe a Hegelian version of the spiritual? Nothing is real but the rational and since God is real He must be rational. But that takes away the paradox and with it faith.

This morning, as I was looking through the Imitation of Christ, I was struck by this:

I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it.

Imitation of Christ, Chapter 1

Oh wow!!! Yes! There is an experimental side to religion – to Jesus – that I have dismissed as charismatic or pentecostal. But, in the history of the church, it is present in mysticism and contemplation. As a person who lives in their head, I want to get out of that space and feel Jesus in my experience. The paradox of Christianity is that it is a human relationship with the God-man, Jesus. So it involves all the elements of being human – mind, heart, spirit, physical, emotional, psychological. There is a part to every relationship between two people that is paradoxical – it is real but not rational. I still that very hard. My head tells me that no person would want a relationship with me but my feelings reach out to people.

There are still parts of me that have not even started to heal. The way I relate to others is one. Escaping that part into some form of solitude would not be healing but simply running away from the problem. I need to find that part first.

so …

Yesterday I saw a relative on the way home from the doctor and … this morning I had to stand in line for a Covid test. My first Covid test. So I am in isolation for 7 days with another test on day 6.

Somehow I think this is a blessing. Time to breathe, pray, and step back. I started my new medication today so I am glad for a little space for it to begin working.

It has not escaped my notice that when life gets tough, I seek solitude and silence. Work, especially in the afternoon, is extremely loud. It is sensory overload!

So I am simply waiting for things to unfold.