I don’t know if it was the weather, the early sunset, or the fact that last year November was truly one of the worst months I had ever had to endure, or perhaps the fact that Christmas is approaching and it is a time of year I often find difficult. Either way, I found myself last Friday feeling utterly rubbish and depressed.
I was convinced that I had conquered my depression. I was convinced that I had moved on from thought patterns that left me hating myself, feeling powerless and helpless in the face of damaged or strained relationships, situations beyond my control and that sort of thing. And there I found myself, with no drive, no desire, no will to find meaning in the day.
But then it dawned on me that this depression wasn’t just some bad situation getting to me as per usual. This was something different. I figured it was probably something like SAD. Apparently it’s quite common.
So I took a bit of time out, had a bit of a break from work (which I was overdue in any case having spent several of the last 2 months weekends working!) and spent some time with God, pleading not to be led down the dark paths of depression again. I knew that I couldn’t ‘beat’ this in the same way I had beaten it before, through counselling and the support of friends. So there I was, helpless, wanting to find purpose amongst the dreary winter.
So I took time out to read the gospel of Matthew. What I found is this: the good news of Jesus is utterly inspiring, wonderful, affirming, life giving stuff. It lifts you up and helps you to see that there really is more out there to be had out of life.
I am not saying that reading a book cures depression. I still feel a tad glum with the weather. I’ll probably talk to a doctor about it if it gets bad again. What it did do was give me a sense of perspective and a reminder of the truths I hold dear.
It also challenges you. I need a challenge. I think part of the reason for the dip in my mood was because I don’t have a lot going on at work at the moment, and certainly nothing from the outside to motivate me with the ideas that I am working on. But in the gospels, Jesus challenges me to forgive, to love, to serve, to be least of all, to go the extra mile. These are all things I can aspire to do – and in doing so forgetting about my own mood and my self. I can lift my thoughts beyond me and I and how I am feeling and instead take part in the ongoing unfolding of the Kingdom of God. And that’s fantastic.
I wil finish with a prayer by St Francis which I particularly enjoy at the moment:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.