Monday, July 17, 2017


There's a scene in the movie Ghost where Whoopi Goldberg is holding a seance and one of the "spirits" in the room takes over her body. Her clothes billow out, her face grows grave, and she is no longer herself.

Depression is like that for me. I am suddenly taken over by someone, or something, else, something that is not me, but is in my body controlling what I think, say, and feel. I am there, too, but muted, like an echo or a conscience. I see what's happening, I know it's not right. It's not who I am or who I want to be. And I can't do much but watch and mourn.

The person who takes over when I'm depressed is Angry. Everything bothers her. Everything is pointless. Friends don't understand. Family members do nothing but judge. The children are hopeless and helpless drains on me and, one day, on society. Every choice I've ever made was wrong and my life is meaningless.

From my journal a week ago: Back here again. Screaming and swearing at the children. Watching TV because my brain is dead. Feeling like I should never have married and become a mother because it just sucks and my children suck and I hate everything about it. I like little, little babies. They're cuddly, and I get tons of endorphins from breastfeeding, and in the middle of the night I pray and commiserate with eternity through those moments which every mother shares. The rest of it is stupid and awful. I fucking HATE cleaning up their messes. I hate trying to teach them right from wrong. I hate their stupid fucking attitudes. I wish I'd never had kids.

The worst is that during this awful time, when I need the Lord so desperately, I am unable to pray. Literally, I cannot form the words to any prayers. I will start, and get a sentence in, and AngryTN says "What's the point? He doesn't answer."  Then instead of praying, I begin to list all the grievances I have against God. He never healed me during my pregnancies. He hasn't converted my husband. We are still struggling financially. Nothing I've tried with my eldest son is working. I follow the teachings of the Church and where does it lead me?

So I try again, but prayer angers me. Angers me so that I deliberately begin to think about something as far from God as I can; something vengeful, something lewd, something heretical.

When AngryTN is gone, I am filled with regret and shame. I don't know why I am not strong enough to fight her. I don't know why God hasn't healed me of the depression, or at least shown me how I can get help! I have tried medication, I have tried therapy (both talk and EMDR), I do all those things that they recommend (at one point my therapist read me the list and I do 9/10 of them on a daily or weekly basis and the 10th I tried for three years without success.) I am on supplements to regulate my hormones. I've tried blood tests and natural doctors.

Nothing is working.

I found comfort from a surprising source yesterday. My dad called to tell me of an insight he'd been given during contemplation, which he was told to share with me. It is complicated, and I fear to write it down because without more explanation it may do more harm than good. But he helped me to see that my sufferings are not evidence that I am doing it wrong, but rather an opportunity to do even more good for those I love. I hope to write a longer post about it sometime, because the conversation I had with my Dad was so beautiful that I know others can be helped by it, too.

In the meantime, I am moving forward with what I know to be true and right. This prayer is on the wall of my bathroom so I can be reminded of it every day.

God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission—I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I have a part in this great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. 

He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.

Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. 

He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me—still He knows what He is about.

O Emmanuel, Deign to fulfill Thy high purposes in me whatever they be—work in and through me. I am born to serve Thee, to be Thine, to be Thy instrument. Let me be Thy blind instrument. I ask not to see—I ask not to know—I ask simply to be used. 

--Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the beautiful prayer. I was severely depressed about 20 years ago too. It took years of therapy and medication, but eventually I got well. I'm praying for you. I hope you'll have a chance to write more about your conversation with your father - sounds interesting.