Even as I blogged this, I didn’t know whether I would post it. Indeed, I’ve posted it some time after writing it and I’m not now in the place which I describe in the writing that follows. But I was. And I have been on many occasions before.
It’s not something which I really want to discuss offline (hence the time-delay in posting until I was in a different place emotionally!) but I have shared this post because I know that there are others reading my blog who will resonate with the feelings I describe below.
With you, it might be seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or perhaps just depression pure and simple. At this time of year, I think it can sometimes be hard to tell the difference. But whatever it is, I would want you to know that it is outside of you. It is not who you are; it is just something which is happening to you and, if you are in Christ, it will not define you forever. It is not what is most true of you, despite how it feels some days! And, finally but oh-so-practically, if there’s any chance at all that it could be SAD, hire a lightbox just to see if it might help you.
Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s what I wrote.
Two weeks of what has felt like SAD again. Rewind about five years of my life to the last set of big episodes of this!
So I am sitting here in front of a lightbox for the first time in a while, in the hope that a good dose of high-intensity light might progressively ease my mood and preferably put an end to any more SAD episodes this year. I feel like I could cry. Not about anything in particular. Just because all of my nerve endings, both physical and emotional, seem to be jangling and it seems like the only response which might offer relief. SAD is like that – both emotional and physical. In a way, the emotional stuff is easier to articulate than the physical sense of unwellbeing.
I’ve been so tired for the last few weeks. Achy all over too with a dull background headache on and off. Ever since we lost our Indian summer midway through October, I could sleep ten hours a night with no problem if I let myself.
Sometimes I do. It’s easier to give in than to fight it, truth be told.
And as I wake, I am aware of depression seeping even into my dreams whilst I float somewhere between sleep and wakefulness.
The day today is very grey and there is so little light that it seems almost oppressive to me. Sadness is here and I can’t tell if it is outside of me or a part of me. Is it external or has it become part of my identity? I write out of an emptiness – no sense of being anything – and yet also out of a fulness – full with a sadness which seems to engulf my very being. When the shadow falls over my life, everything which seemed so real, so substantial, is now invisible…seemingly without substance, black in a sea of black.
And yet, all hope is not gone. In writing about this, I retain a degree of detachment: that I can name what is happening is a sure sign that I am not swallowed up entirely. The dark cloud is not me. It is only happening to me. And Isaiah 50:10 comes to mind:
Let her who walks in the darkness and has no light
trust in the name of the LORD and rely on her God.
This I remember: that in darkness he is there and the darkness is as light to him; that this momentary trouble will give way to a glory that far surpasses it; that he is Emmanuel, God-with-us.
And I know that it will be well.
That behind the uniformly grey cloud which even now seems to be closing in on me there is blue sky.
That in the blackness everything which used to be so real and substantial is still there even though I cannot see it.
That in the darkness there are treasures you will never find in the light, treasures by which we may know that ‘it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name’ (Isaiah 45:3).
And I know that it will be well.