In the Bleak Midwinter: My Seasonal Depression

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I’ve not been formerly diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but with my bipolar I am certain I have the symptoms. It happens every winter. After a very full Christmas season, I crashed. I’ve cried every day since New Year’s Eve, sometimes multiple times a day. I sleep for 11 hours, am often interrupted by nightmares and feel bursts of┬áparalyzing anxiety. Headaches and chills come and go. I have huge shadows under my eyes and have had to collapse back in bed after being awake for less than an hour.

I’m depressive. I try to remind myself that it won’t last forever, but I can’t feel beyond where I am. I cling to the Psalms. Snatches of songs and verses come to mind when I weep uncontrollably.

There are moments of relief and release. I forced myself to go for a walk on Sunday afternoon and felt slightly better after 20 minutes of silent plodding. My friend Nancy cried and prayed and sang with me on Tuesday night, and in those tears and sighs I felt peace and rest. I am more desperate for my quiet times in the morning and for praying for people who come across my path.

I wish there was another way to feel this close to Christ, but there isn’t. He walked the suffering road, so it is on that road that we become transformed into his likeness.

Last night, after broken-heartedly telling our small group that we need to take a break from their fellowship, we watched an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 3. In the episode, they encounter a mysterious man whose injuries place him on the brink of death. With the assistance of Dr. Crusher, the man recovers. It soon becomes apparent that his body contains a strange energy force. The force enables him to recover quickly from his injuries and to heal even death in others. That same force also causes him to experience bursts of increasing pain at random intervals. In the end, the energy bursts consume him and he is transformed into a beautiful and transcendent being.

His journey reflects my hope. The physical suffering that I am enduring may bring a deeper healing to myself and to others. Though my journey with the suffering Christ brings me pain in increasing measure, I am being transformed into his beautiful likeness. And one day, that pain and suffering will end, and I shall see his glory.

As I sang with Nancy, Lord, help me to hold out, until my change comes.

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