Life at La Brea; or Spiraling Down

Obviously not a real photo!

Being depressed is like being in a tar pit.

I’m not sure if this picture really gives the best impression. For me, there is definitely no cute baby I’m trying to protect. But aside from that, the feeling that every kind of nasty creature, with very big teeth, is scarily accurate. That this picture is gray scale only heightens the colorlessness of my life right now.

Some people are probably thinking, “Well, you can’t be too depressed, if you’ve got enough energy to write this blog!” And you’re right. I haven’t sunk under the surface yet. But this mama mastodon is right where I am right now. I know that as long as I’m filled with rage and frustration, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

It looks like there's a light down there, somewhere!

But I can’t shake the feeling that I’m at the top of the staircase, looking down. I’d rather be a the bottom, looking up, but that’s not happening. Yet. Hope does spring eternal. I’m hoping to shake off this feeling before it dissolves into a miasma of melancholy, the kind of oppressive fog that obscures all emotion and reduces me to lying in bed all day, usually reading some self-help book that I can’t see working. I spend a lot of time praying and looking through my Bible. (Of course, I do that when I’m not depressed, too.)

I don’t really understand why God allows people to be like this, but I have to trust that He has a reason. Maybe to make me more compassionate. Maybe to make other people more compassionate. I don’t believe God likes to see me depressed—He’s not a sadist–but He still allows it. I have to believe that. The alternative is even more depressing.Spiral of Depresssion

Here is an excellent illustration showing the spiraling cycle of depression and how one feeling tends to lead to another:

[Also, please read the comments for this entry. They go into much greater detail than I would have put in this posting.]

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14 thoughts on “Life at La Brea; or Spiraling Down

  1. I know I have said it before, but keep hanging in there. You have friends and family and they DO care about you. Reach out to them and let them reach out to you!

    BTW, I enjoyed the list of favorite songs. I thought that I was the only one who had both “Iris” and “Dynamite” on their iPod/iPhone playlist!

    • At first, I didn’t want to write about depression. Again, “no one likes a complainer!” Or that people would think I’m whining! That, in some respects, may be true; but I get a lot of positive feedback. I get e-mails from people who have questions about depression and from people who are depressed. I always wish they’d put in a comment here on the blog, but maybe they, too, are afraid of looking like complainers.

      I’ve kept a diary for YEARS and there is definitely a lot in there about depression. I tend to vent more there. But this blog has a decidedly therapeutic approach.

      One of the ways that I think God wants me to benefit from my experiences with depression is by helping other people. I can’t count the number of people who have come to me, sometimes very surreptitiously, to say that they are going on some kind of medication, or that someone in their family is going on meds and what do I think, or can I pray for them. If that’s not the hand of God working, I don’t know what is.

      • I think you’re right, by talking about this, about your struggles with depression, you’re helping others understand that they’re not alone, that there’s someone else who has been where they are now…that there is hope that they can make it through the dark times and enjoy the light on the other side. And I always find helping others to be therapeutic…good for you for being brave enough to face this in a public manner.

      • I talk about my depression because it helps so much to bring it out into the open. If just one person reads this and gets some help, then it’s even more worthwhile.

  2. Just a different perspective. Why not look at it as strictly chemical and not theological? To me wondering what God’s role in my depression is can only serve to make it worse and seem more hopeless. Perhaps better to believe that God’s role in this was limited to creating a walking chemistry set.

    In golf, they say never blame yourself, blame the equipment. In depression, blame the chemistry and not God or yourself. It’s easier when you believe that you’re not that way by choice–yours or God’s.

    • Oh, I do believe that it’s chemical. That’s why I don’t say that God CAUSES my depression, only that He ALLOWS it. I certainly don’t blame myself or believe that I have a choice about the ingredients of the chemical soup in my brain.

      However, I DO believe that there is something to be said about allowing myself to wallow around and feel sorry for myself. There is a window of time in my cycle of depression that I can fight off the utter despondency for a while, or give in faster, and that is directly affected by my self-talk and how much effort I’m making to take a mental detour before I’m so far down the highway that I’ve run out of exits. I do feel that eventually I will go down that road, but I can put it off for a while, if I’m fortunate and able enough to recognize the warning signs that say, “Last stop for happiness and refreshment for 3 weeks!” That being said, there are times when I don’t (or cant’) recognize the signs, and I can’t blame myself for that. I’m not always able to turn my mental car around or take the exit.

      What I don’t do is blame myself though. I’ve never felt that depression was MY FAULT or that I’m somehow a bad person because I’m depressed. I also don’t blame God for it–I’m just philosophical enough to wonder why?

      It’s funny that in golf they say to blame the equipment, because I’ve been more inclined to go with the old saying, “A poor workman blames his tools.”

  3. The idea of the golf adage is that if you blame the equipment then you don’t get so stressed that you choke and make your game go down hill. I think it applies well. 🙂

    • I think you’re right about this, because sports has a different context. You don’t want to choke, because the moment is NOW!

      For a craftsperson, blaming the quality of the tools is just a poor excuse. After all, the cave people at Lascaux made terrific paintings with obviously primitive tools!

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