One of my blogger besties told me awhile back that there is something to be learned from a relapse or mental health crisis. Be it a trigger that we were unaware of or a new coping mechanism to deal with the inevitable. This last month or so I have been totally overwhelmed mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. I should have seen it coming, I was warned by the leaders in my recovery group, the reading material and even my therapist. The magnitude of this latest depressive episode was something I hadn’t experienced in years. I was drowning in a sea of worthlessness, failure and despair. And being a christian who suffers with depression at Christmas just made it that much worse. All of my “issues” just piled up on top of me and drove me down and down and down. Coming to terms with all of these, Major Depressive Disorder, General Anxiety Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, a Highly Sensitive Person trait, a sexless marriage and a sex addiction (porn) was just too much. Thankfully I have been out of work during this period of time. Sounds weird right? I know, but it was truly for the best. I was supposed to start a driving job more than a month ago but it kept getting put off for a whole slew of reasons but now I see my God’s hand in it. Had I started when I was promised I very likely would have lost this job. God is good!
I always knew I suffered from depression ever since my suicide attempt at age sixteen but I never seriously attempted to deal with it or even learn about it and now I am. It is not easy to admit to myself or others that I have a mental health disease or two or three. The stigma that it carries is unpleasant at best and my particular cocktail of disorders and traits seem to exacerbate each other, they have a form of synergism that just seems to elevate the negative. And yet I have to believe that God knew exactly what he was doing when he wired my brain the way he did. I have always been highly sensitive and have had the ability to put myself in the shoes of another and at times to literally feel their pain, especially emotionally. This has only increased in these last few years. Recently I discovered that I am a HSP (Highly Sensitive Person). A trait that is found in approximately 15-20% of the population. You can find out more about HSP and if you may have the trait by going here.
I have learned that being a HSP does have a positive side. In my church I oversee the Audio/Media Ministry. I have a passion for sound and in particular mixing Live sound. I don’t play an instrument so the mixer is my instrument. Taking all the inputs from the worship team (Contemporary) and creating something beautiful and pleasing to God is just magic. But that is just a small part of what I do in the sound booth. When I am seated behind the mixer I become sensitive to absolutely everything in the sanctuary. I have learned over time to deal with absolutely everything and anything that I perceive can be distracting to anyone attending the service. The last thing I want to happen is for someone to be distracted when the Holy Spirit is attempting to minister to them or teach them. Because of this I become aware of everything both sonically, visually and even aesthetically.
One other way it has benefited me was when I worked as a Drug Abuse Resistance Education Instructor and School Resource Officer at the Middle School level. Middle School kids can be crazy. They are all over the map emotionally, not knowing who they are , why they are or where they are going. But I loved them. I found I could empathize with them at a very turbulent time in their lives and found myself to be very popular in the counselor’s office both among the students and the counselors. My nine years in that one middle school will always be regarded as the high point of my career and something I will always be proud of.
During this time when I retreated into my shell I missed two events that to this day I regret. My church Men’s group christmas dinner, which ironically was my idea and Christmas day and dinner in my own home. In both instances I just couldn’t bear to be with people, even my own family and especially during a time when everyone was expected to be happy and Hunky-Dory. I was anything but happy but the pressure to be happy and grateful during Christmas is almost unbearable.
So about those life lessons, I am learning to be still and to listen for that wee small voice in the recesses of my mind. I got up early listen this morning and went into the kitchen to get some juice while thinking about missing the men’s group dinner when He spoke to me.
“You should have gone.” He said. “You have everything and everyone you need!”
And then I realized, I did. I should have gone, even in the funk I was in, and told them before dinner began what I was going through and asked for their love and prayers. That would have broken the back of the enemy who was conspiring to keep me down.
I do have everything I need, my blogger buddies, my men’s group and church family, the guys in my recovery group who uniquely know the shame and guilt that are part and parcel of any form of sex addiction, all of whom love me and support me unconditionally. Finally there is my Father in Heaven and His son Jesus who died for our sin and to set us free. He alone is the true source of the love that I so desperately need.
As Charles Dickens’ once wrote and gave voice to through Tiny Tim, “God Bless You Everyone!” And I would like to add, “Thank You!” from the bottom of my heart.