Thursday, January 28, 2010


Some significant relief this week. I posted earlier about making a major transition and praying the senior pastor would manage to be supportive. He has agreed to share some lumber for our bridge. I am so thankful.

I'm also still po'd at him. I thought that this might be the point where his shell would come off and he would finally reveal some awareness of the pain my husband and I have suffered in this situation. No such luck. All business.

A reader wrote to tell me about a resource for clergy wives. I've just browsed a little but it looks great. It's called BethNuah Ministries. I read a devotion posted there about loneliness. It's so good to hear someone else identify so many of the situations that have made me feel so incredibly isolated within our congregation.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Church on Sunday was a bust. Chaos at home beforehand, crying clinging children during, tantrum child destroyed his own bedroom afterward. Had briefly considered staying home, and later felt like I should have gone with that inclination.

Feeling fragile today. Can have an entirely competent conversation about something important, and then be tearful immediately after. I think this is a one-hour-at-a-time day.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Things are moving along for us now. It looks like God is opening the door to a new thing, and we may be leaving our current congregation in the near future. This is beyond fantastic. It is the root of my recent improvement.

The door, of course, is not opening into what I expected. I’d been imagining that God would open an enormous double door into a gorgeous new home, more comfortable and more perfectly suited to us than where we are right now. Turns out, it’s a smallish doorway leading to a modest fixer-upper surrounded by a moat.

I’m cool with this. I trust that God will equip us for whatever He intends us to do. We have a hammer and saw and some wood, and we can build a bridge across the moat. It happens that senior pastor in our current congregation has a power saw and a barn full of wood. With his help this would go much more easily.

Husband is going to talk to senior pastor and invite him to lend his support. Among the general population of church members I would feel confident of encouragement. But based on our experience with senior pastor, it is an even 50-50 chance. He is entirely unpredictable in this circumstance.

We are asking him to have mercy on us, and I am distressed even by the asking. I have turned the other cheek so many times they are tender and bloody. Now I’m peeling off the bandage and offering it again?

I ask God to soften my heart, to give me His grace toward this man. I also struggle against any inclination to think kindly of him. I am exhausted. I am done in. Today it feels like I will be angry no matter what he does.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Secret Society

I starting to think that depression has admitted me to a secret society of depressed women. It's super-duper secret: none of us knows who else belongs.

A couple of weeks ago I told the Bible study group I'm in that I've been dealing with clinical depression and asked them to pray for me. The response was awkward and caring. This morning I bumped into a woman from that group and she pulled me aside and whispered that she also suffers from depression. She told me that she's on medication. Or, no, she didn't tell me -- she mouthed it without sound.

A few other women I know have "confessed" to depression, or told me that someone close to them deals with depression.

I definitely understand the inclination to guard privacy related to mental health, but this seems counter-productive.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I am wiped out today. A couple of days ago, when I was motivated and accomplishing a couple of interesting things each day, I told myself that energy breeds energy. Just get moving, accomplish something, and you'll keep refueling.

That is not true for me right now.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Realistic Optimism

Today I celebrate one week of good days. I can't remember the last time I had seven days in a row of feeling reasonably motivated all day and content with 8 hours of sleep. It feels like the balloon is deflating this morning, but I am thankful for the last several days.

Before depression, I found it easy to be optimistic. Life felt good, or if it didn't feel good, I had reason to expect it soon would. If A = happy day and B = sad day, my life before depression was like this-


Evidence favored optimism.

Depressed, I have become pessimistic. For the last year or so, life has followed an inversion of the pattern above-

B B B B A B- B B B B A B- B B B

Reent experience has taught me to expect sadness. If I am happy, I expect the happy feeling will soon fade.

Putting several "A" days together is very helpful in revising my expectations. If a good day does not necessarily lead to renewed misery, then I feel like there's a basis for hopefulness.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Prayer and Consolation

Describing my depression always seems a little beyond my reach. Today I feel like some part of me is empty that really ought to be full. I'm sure someone out there would say "The answer is JESUS!" I suspect it is both that simple and much more complicated.

Earlier this week I had a chance to talk to a pastor's wife who is more experienced than I. Her husband has retired now and she has the long view of the challenges they faced together during a career in ministry. I asked her, in particular, what to do when I feel like my husband is being tortured. I feel so powerless, so hurt because he is hurt. She told me about times she'd felt the same way. She affirmed that there is nothing for me to *do* about it - no political action to take, no intervention I should stage. She encouraged me to pray for my husband, for peace and some comfort.

I pray for him, for all of us, though certainly not as much as I could. Praying is painful. It reminds me that God is faithful to His promises and it reminds me that right now He seems to be absent from this situation. I try to keep this misery tucked in a box, and talking or praying about it requires opening the box and walking around in it.

Talking with another woman who has gone through similar things was so comforting. I felt like she understood me and cares for me. I was happy, lighter when we parted; three hours later I was on my couch, immobilized. The dull ache of my soul had turned into an acute pain that I could not handle.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Year

I've been fishing around all week for an honest and optimistic new year's greeting. "Happy New Year's" doesn't feel right. There's certainly more to life than happiness, and I'm not counting on "happy" this year. I think I've settled on something more like "God's blessings this year." That's something I count on.

This week I came out of the closet to my Bible study group. I told them about my depression and asked them to pray for me. One person offered this chirpy advice: "Are you taking vitamin B? I take vitamin B every day and boy can I tell if I don't take it!" She told me that she heard on the radio that the mental health facilities would close down if everyone took vitamin B.

Oh my. I'm confident that she wants to be helpful, but that was an awkward moment.

It feels good to have told them, if only so that they see all of me. It's hard to find the right time to announce that I'm clinically depressed, but it is reassuring to me to feel known. Maybe that's a new year's greeting: May You Be Known This Year.