Monday, October 4, 2010

A Week of Extremes

In the same week, my much-loved pastor asked my permission to talk about the joy in my life in his next sermon and my long-term wise counselor asked me about the current state of my chronic depression.  How then, do both joy and depression share space in body and soul?
I wish I could say that I have made friends with the depression. Rather it trails opaquely behind me like the slime from a slug. As a little girl running along the woodland trails and spongy beach-way paths of Oregon, slug slime gave a few second warning of banana-sized slugs ahead. And, if this shiny warning wasn't heeded, in a belly roiling moment slug guts would squoosh between bare toes. I can tune out and ignore the depression. Paste on my shiny happy people smile and joke and talk; but it is always there. I do try to take the best care I can. Medication and counseling help, but recent research indicates that MS-caused depression may be resistant to traditional treatment. That is MS code for nothing can be done; learn to live with this symptom.
For the past few years my world has gone from macro to micro. The resulting aloneness is probably one of the most treatment resistant aspects of living with depression. As my work-life and volunteer-life, first faded away, now I see my most intimate friends moving forward with their lives while I stay stubbornly stuck in neutral.  Learning to live at peace with aloneness is currently my biggest challenge. {Want to know more about MS & Depression?}
What then is this joy in the midst of the depression and challenge of advanced MS. Many good and even great things exist in my life. But not one thing adds an iota of true joy. I am talking of spiritual joy that comes from my relationship with Jesus. From the steady heartbeat of eternity that pulls me forward. It is a commonly held, and I believe false, belief that being a Christian should reward me with the payout of a Barbie and Ken life. Where is my Malibu Barbie beach house with Ken at the wheel of my pink convertible. Shouldn't my allegiance to God produce tangible benefit? Instead, my faith serves as salt to melt through the slug slime. My faith is the touchstone that guides me through the darkest days. Without it, I am not sure I would have survived this far.
  As pressure and stress bear down on me,
      I find joy in Your commands. Psalm 119:43

1 comment:

Ted J said...

Thanks Janine for your integrity and effort to make sense of your current situation. As Barry says it is important to thank God in our circumstances not for them. Certainly our circumstances can 'eat our lunch', but our faith and relationships (both God and others) can make a difference. Thank you for being a part of my life.

Blessings and love, Ted