The Blurry Line Between Depression and Grief

About a year ago I went to see my Doc about my ADD…I had been having trouble staying on track lately, just didn’t feel I was getting anything done.  He wasn’t so sure, he asked me some questions about what was going on in my life and within 5 minutes, I was in tears.  I came home with a medication that not only works with ADD but also is prescribed for depression. Things began to improve as I began to deal with the fact that it did seem to be depression and as the medicine began to work…then all hell broke loose…my Dad was hospitalized, there were some professional bumps in the road, and while some good things happened, they were overshadowed by the barrage of Shit that seems to be hitting not only me, but our family day after day. Of course we responded as we always do, we became a tighter family, holding one another up, checking on each other regularly, and “being strong”.

The roller coaster ride continued for a year.  It seemed that when we had a break from one situation, another would rear it’s ugly head and smack us all like a giant, unexpected wave.  But for me, June of this year was the month in which the under toe sucked me into a sea of depression and grief.  After months of health issues, my Dad had finally turned a corner, he was off Dialysis and seemed to be getting stronger. He had even felt like coming to Memphis for his birthday at the end of April, and he and Mom hosted a party for Memorial Day and Dad had had a wonderful time.  But the next day, seemingly out of the clear blue, Dad had a stroke, complete with seizures and physical weakness.  It didn’t look good, the Docs prepared us for the worse, but Dad, being Dad, began to improve…slowly but surely doing the things the Docs said he couldn’t do.  This went on for 3 weeks, we had begun getting ready for him to come to rehab in Memphis, we were readying a room for Mom and preparing for 3 to 6 months of care.  The night after Father’s Day, Mom kissed Dad good night and crawled into the window seat bed she had slept on for much of the last 3 weeks.  At ll:00pm the nurses come in to check on him, trying not to wake Mom up, but they had too, Dad was gone. Mom called me, I heard her words, the ones I had expected for SO long and thank God I went into “pastor mode” knowing what had to be done, clear on each step that must be taken, single minded in knowing that I HAD to get to Mom.  I went into the Family Room where all our children (and an extra, Becca’s friend was spending the night) were watching TV.  I let them know what had happened.  I watched my children’s hearts break and saw the same single minded response from them…they wanted to get to their Nana.  So, at Midnight, with a Yukon XL full of shocked, sad people, we drove, mostly silently, 2 hours south to my Mom, and what was left behind of my Dad.

Have you ever been to a really loud concert? The kind that when the music stops, you feel as if you are wearing ear muffs? Well, the next few days pasted like that.  I felt as if the world was still spinning but it was muffled by the silence that surrounded me, the absence of my Dad’s big, strong voice.  After you regain your hearing from a really loud concert you begin to realize how badly your head is hurting, the same was true once all the events surrounding any death are over.  This nagging headache that has come and gone all summer.  The worst part for me has been the fact that everything that happens, even just a minor bump in the road, brings me once again to my knees, unable to move.  I am frustrated, angry, worried, and confused…I am unable to understand which is the depression I already had and which is normal, healthy grief.

I feel that I am living in a Psalm 69 world.  My Seminary studies of the Book of Psalms helps me to understand that at the end of all Psalms there is hope, hope that God will redeem all pain, all circumstances.  But when you are in the midst of the pain, that knowledge is about as much help as tits on a boar hog! So for now, I cling to the hope, like a life preserver, floating in the sea of chaos that continues to seem dark and scary and pray that a sharks doesn’t grab me from below.  I pray for the strength to continue to hold on while I watch the dot on the horizon that I logically know is a rescue, but also know won’t do me a damn bit of good if the chaos gets me first.

So, at this point, I thank God for the friends I have, the family that grieves with me, the pill I take EVERY single night, and hope. Each day I wake up I try to do a little towards healing. I am reminded of the man who lay near the pool at Bethesda for 38 years until Jesus asked…”do you WANT to be healed” (John 5:1-8) and I realize that I could get so comfortable in my misery that I make no progress towards healing, but I KNOW that I don’t want to stay where I am, I will kick, claw, whatever I have to do to get to healing…and then I realize…I WILL be okay because I am NOT just sitting here, letting my situation overwhelm me, I am not simply waiting on that ship on the horizon to get to me…I am swimming towards it, one stroke at a time, and it may take a while, but I will get there. But I also know the when healing comes, when that rescue vessel arrives, it will NOT be the end of the journey, just the beginning of a new one.  I try to remind myself that I will get tired, I will need to rest for a moment, but that that isn’t giving up or giving in, it is storing energy for the next big push forward.

I am not sure how to end this post, I am not sure there IS an ending yet, but just know that for me, the journey continues, I realize that that blurry line between depression and grief is hope, and I turn to Paul’s words in I Thessalonians 4:1313 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.  
Our hope is not only for those who precede us in death but also in all of those situations in life that we grieve, all those loses we face in life we face not with despair but with hope. Thanks be to God.