In the Tunnel
I have heard that those who suffer from depression often feel like they are covered in a blanket that they cannot remove.
I get that now. I’ve been covered by that blanket for months. And finally now I’m coming to realize it.
And I don’t much like it.
I do not have the energy I want to have. I do not have the focus I want to have. I do not have the drive I want to have.
It’s not that I am sad (though sometimes I am). It’s that I’m just not anything.
I get this, academically at least. I’ve watched some of my children go through it, and other family members as well. And I’ve had “blue” periods before, but none so pervasive.
And did I tell you I don’t much like it?
I know I’m not alone. And I know I’m not the worst case there is. And I don’t care. I am not comforted knowing there are others who feel (or don’t feel) the way I do. And I’m not helped knowing there are those who are worse off than me. I know there are plenty of people worse off than me.
I know there’s value in serving others. I know the Savior taught me to lose myself in the service of others. Been there, done that. I know those blessings come. I have enjoyed them in my life.
I know that there is peace that comes through studying the scriptures. I’ve enjoyed the enlightenment that comes from gospel study.
I know that God loves me and that my family loves me.
I know these things in my head, and even in my heart (most of the time), but today, that doesn’t matter. Because today I can’t get out from under the blanket.
I also know that my feeling the way I do is not because of my personal unrighteousness. I hold a current temple recommend. I do my home teaching most months. I provide for my family. We read scriptures and say family prayer and hold Family Home Evening. I love my wife and kids and they love me. I eat healthy foods and exercise. I care for the poor and needy.
I do not feel the spirit the way I have in the past, or in the way I would like to. I do not know if this is self-fulfilling, but I have long suspected that my children who suffer from depression do not have the same experience with the spirit as those who don’t. I now believe even more firmly that they do not. The spiritual quickening common in my life – the inflow of ideas, the confirming peace of mind, the burning in my heart – is faint at best, but more often absent. I still feel emotional response to some stimuli, but it is without the spiritual witness to which I had grown accustomed.
There is an excellent series on depression at Times & Seasons which has been instructive to me. Among other things, it lists a plethora of causes of depression, and it wonders (as I do) how any of us escape it.
I want to have hope. I want to hope that I will find the end of the tunnel I am in. I have successfully navigated tunnels before, and I try to remember that I have.
I have some ideas about the causes of my own depression. I’m in the throes of a bout with significant anemia and am working with a number of doctors to pinpoint why and, more importantly, treat it. As the anemia resolves, perhaps so will my mood. (Certainly my energy will improve, at least.) I don’t get enough sleep. Of course the depression feeds that problem, and it makes it harder for me to move from one activity to another (like getting ready for bed). I’ll have another conversation with my doctor this week about how I’m feeling. And I’ll keep taking my iron supplements. And I’ll keep doing the good things I’m trying to do. And I’ll try to hope for improvement.
I’ll continue to try to connect the blessings of the atonement to my recovery, though it’s much harder now than it has ever been. I have seen the atonement work on me. I know what that looks like. But I don’t know what it looks like here.
I learned some time ago to move one step at a time, one day at a time. I’ll keep that pattern going.