I have been asked several times about the symptoms associated with my affliction. I think for many, there is the assumption, that depression is just a severe case of feeling low in spirits. That would be a reasonable inference from the term “depression”. Given that to be the case “depression” is a little bit of a misnomer and does not fully reflect the totality of the experience. I will first seek to give the overall perspective and then look at detailed symptoms.
- “I can’t cope” is a phrase that embraces much of the experience.
- Not functioning properly.
- Life feels like walking through sludge. Everything is heavy going.
- Overwhelmed by things.
- Cold hands and cold feet.
- Panic attacks.
- Tight chest.
- Seizures in chest region.
- Reduced appetite.
- A mind that goes looking for worries.
- An inability to properly process those anxieties.
- Lack of / disturbed sleep.
- Episodes of sensing darkness in my being.
- Generally “on edge”. Thinking that if certain things happen then I won’t be able to cope.
- Claustrophobia (on occasions) in confined spaces.
- The accomplishing of everyday activities becomes hard.
- Body getting hot and sweaty.
- Burning sensation in chest.
- “Anxious” stomach.
- Feeling light-headed, although that may have been due to medication.
- Sensitive to other people feeling I am acting in an odd way.
All of these detailed symptoms have not been there all the time, but there has been some manifestation of them. I don’t want to exaggerate the severity of them, but they would be a part of the experience. No doubt, others who suffer depression have differing experiences, but I relate what I have been through thus far, in my recent affliction.
I heard second-hand of a depression sufferer saying on the radio, that she wishes that non-depression sufferers could just experience depression for fifteen minutes, so they could know something of what it is like. It was an interesting observation. The experience of depression can be so painful.
As I write this I feel somewhat improved, but still with someway to go. Some of the pain still seems very close in terms of experience and time.
So much to learn. Thank you Lord for recent relief. Thanks to all who have prayed and shown interest.
In my last post on depression (here) I mentioned about the anticipated beneficial working of the sertraline. One thing I have been pondering upon is the danger of just relying on the medication to move through this present affliction. I was led to think of king Asa. We read that In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the doctors (2 Chron. 16:12).
The fact that I consider the medication a beneficial gift from the Lord. does not take away from the need to continue to trust in the Lord through the experience. As I have observed previously (here) I do not fathom how the mental, emotional and spiritual intermingle to establish my well-being. However, I do know that the call on me as a believer is to be believing in the Lord.
King Asa got things wrong not in seeking the doctors, but in only seeking the doctors. The Lord calls us to live with all of our life placed in His hands. We use various means for the furthering of our lives, families and churches, but we should never only use means. In fact our use of means should always begin, continue and end in the presence of the Lord through prayer and thanksgiving.
Of course in all thsi I am a failure; I have not trusted and do not trust Him as I ought. So I come to ask Him for forgiveness and for enabling to trust Him into the future.
Some time ago (here), I observed that we are saved from keeping the law. So how can I now say that we are saved to keep the law? The issue here revolves around how we view God. As a non-Christian, our default position is to rightly view God as judge. As a Christian though, our view is radically changed. Now our default position is to view God as Father. The natural heart cry of the Christian is to think of Him as our Father.
So now we are Christians and know God as our kind and loving Father, how do we respond? Well, if you love somebody one of the things you are inclined to do is to act so as to please them. How do we respond then to the fact that we have a kind loving father? We respond by wanting to please Him. And how do we know what pleases Him? We have His law which reveals what He loves and what He hates. With this in mind then the Christian wants to keep the law. We are not doing this to “get on the right side of God”. Rather we are doing it because we want to bring pleasure to Him.
Moreover, when the Spirit of God is moving in our lives, this is where He is taking us to. For example, we read in Romans 8:4 that Christ has worked to save us in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Yesterday, January 17th, I decided to pull back from involvement in church life at Feltham Evangelical Church, for the time being at least. Having sought to keep going for four weeks whilst feeling unwell, I concluded, that I was not helping myself by continuing with my involvement with the ministry here. I felt I had to take time-out to seek to get myself functioning properly again. This was a painful, and yet relieving, decision; I shed quite a few tears.
So I will see where I go from here. People say that the benefits of taking Sertraline are only really experienced after a month. That means I have about ten days more until then. I had a wretched morning today, but a much better afternoon. Perhaps only once in the last four weeks have I felt rested by my afternoon rest. Today though I was granted some rest; thank you Lord.
So we move forward seeking to trust in our God. May it be that something of Job’s acknowledgement in Job 23:10 is known in my situation But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
I am not sure if I will continue blogging whilst recuperating; possibly. Thanks to all who have shown interest and prayed.
David observes in Psalm 25:9 how the Lord guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. Humility is a character trait of great value to God. We should be doing everything to cultivate this grace into our lives.
We must immediately confess that it is not a trait that is natural to us. It is pride which naturally characterises us. We want to exalt ourselves and push ourselves forward. It is grace which changes this situation. It is the Lord revealing to us our sinful weakness that starts us in the way of humility. True humility grows when we have God in view. When we see how majestic and magnificent He is, then we start to see ourselves properly; we are humbled.
Whenever we lose sight of the greatness of our God then we start to see ourselves bigger than we ought. Self-promotion starts to develop and we deviate from the way of humility. It is in the presence of God that we see ourselves aright. Every day I should be seeing myself afresh as an unworthy individual wholly dependent on God.
Humility leads to God showing His favour, as our verse teaches us. It shows us how He lovingly guides us into what is right and into His way. And thereby I will be living well. So may humility characterize us as we seek to move forward for the Lord.
Some weeks ago Mark Henderson, who is the Evangelist in our church, preached a sermon on King Josiah it is here At one point he provocatively mentioned about how many books there were about people who had lived half-heartedly for God. Of course, the answer is that there would be none of such. The books that have been written are about Christians who have poured themselves out for the cause of Christ. Only such lives are worthy of being so recorded as to be passed on to the reading public. This is because it is only such lives that are worth the reading public taking an interest in.
There is of course a greater assessment which is to come when God assesses our lives. In 2 Corinthians 5:10, Paul informs the Christians in Corinth of how we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due to us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. In that day God will examine our lives to see whether they are worthy of commendation.
Whether or not people write a book about us is ultimately of no consequence. What is of consequence is the verdict of God upon my life.
Also I need to mention that the Christian publishers may ignore many lives because they are not seen as being sufficiently interesting, but God will never miss a life that is lived wholeheartedly for Him. A wholehearted life can be quietly and effectually lived. Such a life may not impress man, but it will impress God.
Nevertheless Mark’s point stands provocatively challenging as it is only wholehearted lives that are worth recording whether that be by authors or more especially God Himself.
My post from Friday raises the issue of Christians taking antidepressants (see here). I have written about this previously here. In many ways I do not have much to add to what I wrote there.
I would like to ponder on of the issue of us living in a fallen world and how that bers upon taking anti-depressants. As Christians we are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. We have an everlasting salvation now which cannot be taken away. However, we still live in this world. And this world is a fallen world; in so many ways it does not function properly and in so many ways we do not function properly. The fact that we get illnesses and injuries demonstrates this.
As Christians we so easily categorize physical ailments as being acceptably treated with medication, but that issues of the mind are spiritual and should not be medicated. Such seems a very simplistic approach. The fall also has consequences for our minds as well. In a sense my mind is dysfunctional. I mentioned this in a sermon I preached last year at our church. It is here. The medication is a provision from God to help me and many other sufferers to function better than we would otherwise.
As some people take regular ongoing medication for heart disease or blood pressure problems so others take medication to stabilize their mental condition. Although, I do not profess to be an expert in the medical issues it appears I have a tendency to be deficient in seretonin. The taking of sertraline seeks to boost production of seretonin.