Eat, Sleep, Preach: A Deaconess in Depression

My depression is knocking me down this week. The will to do anything is elusive. My sense of worth is shot.

It’s not rational it just is.

You can’t talk me out of it.

I can’t even talk me out of it.

I’ve had my ups and downs over time and I’ve been on a bit of an upswing lately–feeling good about my writing and podcasting and all that good stuff.

It was in an upswing that I decided to finally start writing for real. I was tired of letting my depression hold me back in life and tell me I wasn’t good enough and didn’t have enough to say. I told my depression to go straight to hell and I was going to do this thing.

But that damned depression is creeping up again.

I mean, there’s the normal-people self-doubt and comparison trap that I get into sometimes and those bring me down, but there’s always something or someone that helps snap me out of those.

But this week–I’ve just been a mess and there’s nothing that can snap me out of it. I’m just a tear-stained, frumpy-clothed mess.

AdventPreaching2013And I hate this part of my story.

I much prefer the part of my story in which I’m the shiny-happy preaching Deaconess. (See photo.)

I’ve heard people criticize social media because of the way that people carefully curate their image–showing only their good sides, posting only the favorable photos, sharing only the triumphant moments.

To be sure, I want you to know about my highs! I want to tell you about my latest podcast that I’m proud of! I want you to see the action shot of me preaching.

But you deserve to know about today and the other days like it. About how I didn’t want to get out of bed. About how I stayed in my pajamas until I got the text that my husband was on his way home for lunch. And about how when my husband got home for lunch he cooked and loaded the dishwasher while I sat in a corner in the kitchen and wept and poured out my tale of woe.

I want to be honest about the whole of this life of mine. I’m the preaching Deaconess and the lady who doesn’t want to get up until after noon.

I know my depression isn’t the worst in the world. I did make it out of bed, so that’s something.

And the fact that I’m at this keyboard is because, as I told my journal today, if I can do nothing else, I will write about my damn depression. Because I’m doing this writing thing no matter what.

God knows there is so much more I want–and need–to write about. There’s so much to say I could burst sometimes.

I don’t want to write about my depression, but it is the elephant in the room right now and it takes too much energy to ignore it. It won’t let me think of anything else right now. So I’m writing about it. Because I’m doing this writing thing.

Photo by: Melissa Wickel

36 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Juan Carlos Torres on December 10, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    Thanks for sharing about the lows in your life. It takes a lot of faith and courage to do so. All of us have things we are afraid to be open about. May God bring some good out of these dark days and seasons in your life. Blessings.

  2. Posted by Terri Kardos on December 10, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    I have been where you are…it is a dark place. I blame winter, some flaw in my character and a million other things. But, the truth is nothing like that. Depression is a chemical imbalance. We do what we can to control it but sometimes, no matter what, it wins. I an grateful that today I win. I pray that you, me and everybody else who relates to this story, will win more than depression does.

  3. Posted by Hermano Grande on December 10, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Your candor is appreciated! Thanks for being real. I love you!

  4. Posted by Robin Hood on December 10, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Kudos for getting over the way depression makes one feel like trying to hide the depression. I would give you my tips on how I got over depression, but it seemed like it just went away by itself without me doing anything, like an unmedicated cold.

  5. Posted by Barb Herzinger on December 10, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    Jen, I really appreciated your openness and honestness. Thank you for sharing your whole self!

  6. Posted by Cheryl Erdmann on December 10, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Jen, thank you for being you and willing to let others know that the Black Cloud is real, but not the winner in the long run.

  7. Posted by Angela on December 10, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    I just want to tell you that I love you because you are worth it no matter how you are feeling!

  8. Jen, I admire your courage and candor in discussing your battle with depression. I also have battled this malodorous self doubting affliction most of my adult life. When I learned it was a chemical imbalance, I sought counsel and more prayer to help battle these inner demons. Beautiful, bright sunshine also helps. You know God and family love you but so do your friends. And—thank you for sharing

  9. Posted by Tim Mantei on December 11, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Thank you, Jen. You are not alone today nor were/are you alone a few thousand years ago. I think a lot of those biblical characters were depressed and God used them mightily. He is using you mightily!

  10. I too fight with depression and we had quite a tango this year. Odd…over 20 years since my last bout. AND…it is terrifying to be on the edge all of the time. I hear you sister! You are in my prayers. I ended up with great spiritual care, therapy and medicine…more than I ever imagined…still nervous for this year because you hit the nail on the head…IT IS and that is that! Don’t forget to surround yourself with healthy and tangible people! Prayers are lifted.

  11. Posted by Rebecca Ebb-Speese on December 11, 2013 at 11:52 am

    Thank you for your honest sharing. I am in that same place right now and this is a new experience for me. Really awful when it hits in this super busy time of year. Getting some much needed help.

  12. Posted by John Markwell on December 11, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Jennifer,
    I appreciate that you provide some glimpse into your struggle. I am reading in Hebrews currently, and thinking about drifting and anchors and trials and tribulations and discipline and the joy of Christ. Currently, my wife’s struggle is cancer and a trachea tube in her throat. You and my wife both share a dwelling placed that is uncomfortable and a wish to be somewhere else in life’s adventures. Hebrews and Romans teaches us about endurance as well. As a person who has run many marathons, endurance, in my experience, comes from struggling both mentally and physically. I will pray, as I pray for my wife, for endurance to continue in the situation God has given us and to trust that Jesus will provide grace for these hard circumstances.

  13. Posted by Meredith Gould on December 11, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Even though I’ve not always been thrilled to receive this advice, it’s good advice: keep sharing/telling about your depression. A great way to find out you’re not alone. I’ve dealt with cyclical depression for decades and seem to have it managed/controlled by a combination of things. For now. Thank God…and meds…and prayer…and friends…and, really, social media.

    • I know that I have been blessed by others who have dared to speak of such things in the past, so what you say about talking about it resonates with me. I’m glad you’ve found such a good combo to manage your depression–even social media–love it!

  14. Posted by revpearldownunder on December 11, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    thanks Jennifer, I too am a Minister who has depression, as well as self doubts and am amazed at what people think I can do. on my good days, or moments, I too see the gifted person I am – but not often. since the depression was diagnosed a few years ago, medication has helped me greatly, but there are still some days… I find I also need to not get over-tired, and am getting better at being realistic about what I can get done in a day, or a week.
    God bless you, and in this Advent season, may Hope, peace, joy and love enfold and enrich your days.

  15. Posted by Lee Bennight on December 11, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    Thank you for your words. I am also an ELCA pastor that suffers from depression. Your article helped me to remember that I am not alone and that my life is bigger than what I am feeling at the moment. God’s peace be with you.

  16. wow, thanks so much for sharing this. It resonates so much with me; I feel a lot of the same things, and do similar things at times (in bed too long, feeling little worth, counting failures instead of blessings, not struggling against the depression….) Thank you for writing today It was what God wanted you to be doing, imo.

  17. It’s okay not to be okay.

    (And I know all too well that pressure to be shinyhappypreachy).

    God’s grace is sufficient for you. I trust that.
    Depression is SUCKY (I would have written a swearword, but some might be offended…you get the picture). I know that also.

    Sending you much love. Xxx

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