There are periods in life where my depression takes a backseat, where it coasts, not fully easing up, but not fully debilitating or crippling either. Recent weeks however, it’s felt two or three steps downward with only a half-step up. A lot of changes have happened, and more are quickly heading in my direction. According to Blake, the decision to be proactive about my self-care (physical, emotional, and spiritual) is one that often causes disorientation, especially for someone like me who has always struggled with his own self-worth and intrinsic value. It feels weird to be making myself a priority… even more weird to be declining offering care to those I love because I’m unable to do so without causing harm or weakness to myself.

In a conversation with a staff member at my school recently, something was shared with me… something optimistic… something prophetic. After sharing what had been going on in my life as of late, I was told by this person, this mentor, this friend, that they perceived my depression coming to an end, or at the very least, to a juncture where it would start transforming into something new, where the truth of who I am, the reality of myself as one whom the Divine calls Beloved.

As much as this message should be one that brings me hope and strength, I cannot help but be reminded of a similar conversation with an old friend many years ago while I was an undergraduate student. She told me that I was called to to great things, to make a significant difference in the lives of both individuals and the Church. Not long after that conversation, I returned home only to have leadership of my primary faith community ask me to step down from all ministry activities and suggested that I should no longer attend services there. Not long after that conversation, my world fell apart. Not long after that conversation, I began hearing a voice that told me I was not God’s Beloved, I was not important, I was not worth anything. Not long after that conversation, part of me died.

One could see why this most recent “prophecy” might not be one I want to embrace very tightly. For much of my life thus far, there seems to have been this cloud of pain and turmoil following me. Like any set of clouds, there are gaps where slivers of light become visible. There have been moments where the sky grew dark and the air circulated, but no storms were present. And there have been times where the rain, hail, and sleet were caught up in violent winds, surrounded by lightning, floodwaters rising up against the weak sandbags of my own strength and boundaries.

I’ve tried to explain to those closest to me what life has felt like lately. Tired is almost always the only way I can describe it. Every part of me is fighting to hold on. My mind almost never stops racing, constantly thinking about my coursework, my relationship, my friendships, my spiritual life, my family, my grief, my fears, and an onslaught of other topics. I think about my vocation, my strengths and weaknesses, my faults and failures, my hopes and dreams, my optimism and my cynicism.

I just want rest. I want to feel something other than the weight of the world’s brokenness crushing my body beneath itself. I miss taking care of others, though there have been a few chances here and there where I’ve been capable of doing so (and according to those people, quite effectively). I miss feeling joy for more than seconds at a time. Not some superficial, short-winded laughter or smile, but a deep-seated feeling of joy, of worth, of hope. If I had to be honest, I’ve not felt that for a long time (with the exception of my wedding, but even then, only for a brief time).

There’s this voice I hear that yells at me for being melodramatic, for not just pressing on and getting over it. My life isn’t all that bad after all. Food in the fridge. Clothes on my back. Roof over my head. Money in the bank. The resources to be able to go to school. Friends who love and care for me. An amazing partner who most days I feel I don’t deserve. All that said, my heart just hasn’t caught up with it all. I still feel “not enough.” Unworthy. Inadequate. Expendable. An annoyance. An intrusion. The heaviness of it all is crippling, and while my head tells me I can make it through, my heart feels like it’s running against a brick wall.

I just want rest…

~ by Michael O. on October 5, 2012.

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