Monday, April 9, 2007

Faith & Depression

I know I haven't written anything here since February 4th.

And to those who actually read my postings and who go to my church, I know I haven't been there since either November or December. I didn't even attend on Easter Sunday.

Anyway I was looking for something to read when I noticed my fiction-writing folder. In there are the pages that I printed off the Internet (not to mention, those I wrote) to help me with my writing. You see, I haven't started chapter four and I was hoping that reading the basics about fiction would help me start that said chapter. When I've read most of it, I closed the folder. On the front cover is a clipping from the Praise & Thanksgiving section of the old church bulletin. It is about faith.

In verbatim:

Don't build your house on a career. Don't build your house on a thrill. Don't build your house on one solitary earthly relationship. Don't pursue things that don't last. Build your house on the only thing that can last: faith.

Do you have faith? If you have faith, then you have what it takes to tackle your problems before they tackle you. If you have that confident hope, then you will know how to handle whatever life brings you.

One thing that no one can take [a]way from you is your faith. This world can and may take everything you have. But no one can take away your faith. Grab that faith, clutch tightly that anchor of the soul.

Make your faith an independent dogged faith, firmly planted in God's sacrificed Son on the hill of Calvary. It can never be taken away from you.

Then the writer quoted this: "Faith rests on the naked Word of God; that Word believed gives full assurance."

The writer also said:

Faith is one of the most precious treasures a man can possibly possess. It is a pity that so few understand what the Bible teaches about it. Faith is often confused with presumption, optimism, determination, superstition, and imagination. Actually, it is simply believing... Obviously faith [honours] God, while doubting His Word must insult and displease Him.

So I thought, "Do I have faith?"

First thing that came to mind was this: If I didn't have faith, am I going to be sitting on the computer and writing this?

You see, I've always been depressive. Every time my parents punished me, or every time someone said something negative and/or untrue about me, I would clam up, cry, and wish I were dead. I've never been one to defend myself, because when I do try to defend myself, I turn violent. It's just the way I wired; I'm either one extreme or the the other extreme. During those dark moments, I would imagine how I would die and make those who have hurt me regret what they did to me. It's either a long and terminal illness (such as leukemia or brain tumour) or a brutal death. I would feel very unworthy, unloved, and utterly lonely. I would cry or get angry for no major reason. Just recently, my sleeping patterns got messed up; either I can't sleep or I sleep too much. I've also been very tired and I've noticed that I'm having more "senior moments" or "blonde moments". Also, I used to know exactly what I want; now I'm more indecisive than ever. (Case in point, I'm two months away from my scheduled time-off, yet I haven't decided what to do or where to go!)

Then one day, I was browsing through while waiting on the system at work. I read this article about depression. The writer listed the signs of depression and - guess what - I recognised seven of the eleven signs given. Unfortunately, I didn't go to a psychologist to confirm my hunch. Apart from being a procrastinator, I was a bit scared.

So during those dark months - that dark period which was accompanied by that horrible winter - I stayed home on the weekends unless it was absolutely necessary. I slept at three or four in the morning, and woke up ten to twelve hours after. Sometimes I wrote, other times I just read, and for the most part, I just lay on my bed until I was called to dinner. Unfortunately, this has become a habit. Consequently I haven't woken up in time for church.

It's not that I wanted to ditch Christianity - not at all. As a matter of fact, my prayer life grew during that period of depression. I've also set aside a portion of the day - usually, the moment I get settled on the morning bus - to read God's Word and pray, to spend time with him. I've also been trying to serve people and the community in small ways. The fellowship part of being a Christian is the one that badly suffered.

Are the people at my church so bad that my fellowship with them suffered? Not really. Sure, there are a couple of people that I can't stand, but I know that we're all "bad" because we're all sinners. Is my pastor so dull or so offensive that I don't want to hear him preach? No, not at all.

So why did I let fellowship with FIC-based Christians suffer?

This might seem petty or unreasonable, but there's a guy I need to get over. I need to get away from him - or as one article said, "sever ties with him" - for as long as I can. It's just the way I was wired. Also, life has dealt my little clique a few changes and I feel like I don't belong there anymore. It's not easy being in your early twenties and single - I just decided that I will kiss dating goodbye for another year - when your friends are either dating, getting married, having babies, or any combination of the previous. I do like hanging out with people who are older than me but I feel my loneliness most acutely when they pair off and I'm left by myself.

Obviously this all boils down to my loneliness. I am lonely. Unlike other young women, I don't date around or sleep around because I'm lonely. Unlike my mother, I don't escape to where my brother is when I feel unworthy and unloved. I get depressed and withdraw from those who should, would, and could help me.

As you might have anticipated, this feeling of loneliness and unworthiness can lead to being more vulnerable to Satan's lies. When that did happen, I found myself fishing for an old sin in the sea where God put a sign, "No fishing allowed." And then I always ask God to forgive me. But I am tired of it - tired of going back to my old sinful ways when I know I've been redeemed by Jesus Christ's blood.

It's not that I don't know that God loves me. I know he does. I know he created me, breathed life into me, and planned my days. I know he has a plan for me. The question is, what? Is this dark period going to help me become a better Christian, one who's more ready to hear what God will reveal to her? And how am I going to overcome this darkness?

That said, has my depression taken away my faith, that confident hope? Have Satan's lies replaced the Truth?

I think not. With the help of my Heavenly Father, the Son who died on the cross for me, and the Holy Spirit that God sent to be my helper, I will overcome this darkness. And maybe in the next few weeks, you'll see me at church.