Saturday, October 25, 2008

Feelings... What Is Normal?

I was just rereading on the internet about dysthymia. I've struggled with depression since I was about ten years old, with growing intensity through the years, culminating in almost constant suicidal thoughts in college. For me, it was just life... I didn't know anything different. I was filled with self-hatred... "stupid ugly bitch" was a refrain constantly running through my mind, almost 24-7. I remember banging my head on the foot of my bed when I was a kid... to punish myself? to replace the emotional pain with physical pain? When I got older, I would scratch myself in frustration and self-hatred. I am so grateful that God made me a complete wimp, or I might have cut myself or inflicted other physical injuries (or gotten into alcohol and drugs). I might have thought of a pain-free way to kill myself and had the courage to go through with it... oh, I thank God for my wimpiness and my sense of humour, which were the two things (beside His grace of course) that enabled me to survive all those horrible years. After years of ignorance, then self-denial, then fighting the system to get the help I needed, I was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder and chronic dysthymic disorder. Though I mostly struggled with severe and often suicidal depression, I would occasionally have my "high" times... not as extreme as many cases; in fact, at the time, it felt great. I would have lots of energy, I would feel uninhibited socially - I would also have poorer judgement (which I never realized until afterwards) and would inevitably crash. It's been almost a decade since I was diagnosed (correctly) and started on an anti-depressant that was effective for me. Since then, I've never experienced the highs or suicidal lows of bipolar disorder, but I still struggle with the everyday "low-level" depression.

Since I got back from New Brunswick, I've been struggling with physical tiredness, lack of motivation and focus, feeling overwhelmed and wanting to withdraw. I often think I'd just like to crawl into bed and hibernate for several months. I feel guilty like I'm just being lazy, whiney... that if I was a better person and (oh, the joys of being a Christian and the guilt that comes along with it! ) if I just prayed more or had more faith, I wouldn't struggle like this. I feel overwhelmed by the things I should do and punish myself by not doing any of the things I want to do, and end up doing nothing and feeling even worse. One of the things I struggle with most is my natural tendency to be a loner and my struggle with social anxiety, with the love Jesus has put into my heart for people and wanting to bless them with His love through me. I often think if I wasn't a Christian, I would be a total hermit. Many people (most?) either frustrate me or frighten me (did I mention the social anxiety disorder?)

I'm sure there's a lot of things contributing to these feelings. Leaving my family in New Brunswick and not feeling that I had enough time to spend with them; the darker, colder days of fall; changing relationships at church, which has always provided my foundation of friendships. I belonged to a small group for several years which ended about a year and a half ago. There were about half a dozen of us who attended regularly and they felt like my family. I cried and laughed and learned and prayed and shared with them. I still have Thursday morning Bible study, but it's not the same. It's a bigger group and not as intimate. Our church is growing too, more people coming on Sunday mornings and it just feels bigger and more impersonal to me. I feel disconnected from the people there, and worse, feel like I don't even want to make the effort to be connected anymore.... and feeling guilty for feeling that way.

I'm just feeling... not terrible, but not great... feeling guilty because I know so many other people have far worse trials and challenges than me, so how can I complain or feel bad? Just feeling like crawling into my nice cozy sheets and not coming out for awhile.


Family Of Five said...

You are beautiful, smart, kind, generous, full of faith and trust. There are so many more wonderful qualities you possess that I don't have enough room to list them all! I think we ALL have enough love and faith in you and see enough beauty in you to make up for your feelings of helplessness. I am so happy you have been brought into my life and have changed my life in such wonderful ways. You teach me so much about tolerance, acceptance, love and patience. I'm so glad you wrote this.... shared this.... and are reaching out instead of running away. I'm glad you are here.... I'm glad you are in my life.... and most of all I'm glad you are YOU! Just the way you are! I'm sorry you are struggling, I am always here for you!

Maria said...

From one who was in the small group that ended a year and a half ago... it's hard when things change. Don't keep looking for that 'same old feeling'. God has put you in a new situation for His purpose. The women in that study now need you to be there. Embrace that. And I can say this to you because I know you can do it! Even more so because of the strength of Jesus within you.

Romans 8:28 says... And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. I know you've read that verse a few times or more. Just reminding you and preaching at you for old times sake! :o)