Name It!

Here are the first few lines of a poem I wrote in 1992 about depression.

Depression isn’t a dragon
That overtly threatens
And awakens
Vanquishing knights
Inside ourselves.

It is a silent enemy
That infiltrates
And becomes part of the landscape,
Assuming more and more prominence
Until takeover
Is accomplished.

Depression always wants to be a close companion in my life, but, with God’s help and medical awareness, I have allowed only occasional visits. Each visit only ends with great effort; I have to kick it out the door. Sometimes, I have to use a really big boot. Here’s what I wrote today:

For five days I have lived in gray. It is not in my physical world—God has given me sunshine and warm temperatures. It has nothing to do with my writing. In fact, successful wrestling with my current difficult project has been satisfying. So much so, that I have been staying in it longer each day. But when I’m home, in my off-work time, I have been escaping by reading, mindless television, filling in all the squares of multiple crossword puzzles, and mending clothing for my granddaughters.

I have dutifully prayed each evening, asking God to take this unexpected and unwanted burden, but my chest remains heavy. A gray cloud continues to rain on my parade each day, and I sink deeper and deeper into the pit. Last night I hid behind a closed door, still unwilling or unable to name or identify what it was that has swallowed me.

My daughter stopped at my table in the coffee shop for just 15 minutes this morning. We talked around the periphery, all the things I have been hoping were causing this pit. And suddenly I recognized it. It was fear. Clues that I have been refusing to link together came into sync. I could not call it an “aha” moment. Through tears, I had a “wawa” moment.

But naming my fear, identifying what it was, I know it for something that I don’t want to face. I didn’t—I don’t—want it to be. But by naming it as a possibility, but owning its truth to myself, for myself, I can ask God to help me carry it. Or to carry me and my burden when it’s just too heavy. Now, with God once again in my forward view, I can face and prevail. Not just endure, but live holding His hand.

Today, there are gray skies outside, but in my heart and in my God-vision, I am seeing patches of blue.

Naming it today was step one. I’ve dragged depression to the door, and I have my handle on the doorknob, twisting. The squeezing pain-point in my chest is gone with the naming. I feel God’s presence in its place. Goodbye, depression. You don’t stand a chance. My God is with me.

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