faith, life, depression, struggle

Thursday, April 8, 2010

My mental illness and my faith

I am walking in a territory that is very alien to me. I've been dealing with depression most of my life (through medication, talk therapy, group therapy, all that), but the presence of faith in my life is relatively new—since April 2000, in fact. At that time, my depression was well managed, relatively speaking; the meds I was on at that time worked well, for the most part, and my moods were bright without being frenzied.

Faith was an unexpected gift from God. It came from Him in a moment, not as a blinding light or something profound, but as a sudden, very real presence in my inner self, something I have not experienced before or since. I didn't know what it was at first; it took time to sort it all out. It was not easy. But it came together as I rediscovered the Bible, or rather, discovered it, period. I had read it cover to cover as an agnostic, but this was a totally new experience.

With the cancer diagnosis in 2008 came immunotherapy, and with immunotherapy came a bout of depression like nothing I've faced since adolescence. It's still very much with me, raging out of control (obviously) at times, driving me to utter desperation, to threadbare existence steeped in misery, sadness, grief, just a malaise of illness. I still believe in God, I still believe Jesus Christ is the Man of Sorrows, the Prince of Peace, the eternal Son; but much of the rest is very much in flux, to be honest. I can grasp at the rational guidance of the Bible, and it holds, until I'm seized again in this violent depression that keeps dragging me down further, or seemingly further, each time.

I now think about suicide several times a day, every day. It brings relief to think about killing myself, but it's also a risk, because it is very appealing to me. It's more powerful than sex at this point in my life, or any other basic human desire (as much as "human desire" applies in my twisted life, anyway). Dying has become my goal—not the process of dying, but the finality of death. Being done with it. Moving on. No longer bearing up under the onslaught of hatred and contempt that surrounds me and infuses me. I no longer know if it's coming out of me, going into me, or both; maybe I'm just a conduit.

So there's a certain fear of being destroyed, and yet a desire to be destroyed right now. None of this makes sense. Conflict abounds in every thought. There is no peace, not even for a moment; there is blessed distraction as a friend forces me to come out of my home, or as work demands pull me to the office; I deserve neither friends nor work, and yet there they are.

My father died in 1979, himself a schizophrenic with a host of other mental issues. I find myself finding my own way across his well-trod path, plagued in my own way; just no family to transmit it to, praise God. Isolation is my gift. Quarantine is my gift. That I do not affect you is my fondest wish for you, whoever you are.

No comments: