“You’re In My Prayers”: A Postscript To My Annoying Personal Reflection
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. – James 2:14-17
This will be brief, the result of a conversation Lisa and I just had. It is nice to hear people say, “Let your husband know you’re in my prayers.” All the same, living with depression and severe anxiety brings with it more than its share of loneliness. Living in a clergy household, people were always hesitant to stop by, always afraid, as they said, “we might be disturbing you.” Now, we don’t have a church; those under Lisa’s pastoral care are scattered from just north of Marengo to the banks of the Mississippi. I’m still just getting to know folks at my own church, and haven’t been completely open with them about my current condition.
Yet, we’ve returned to an area where we’re surrounded by old friends and former church members and even clergy who are more than passing acquaintances. I realize all your lives are busy. Ours are busy, too, between Lisa’s work and the kids’s various activities. That doesn’t mean, however, that I might not enjoy someone stopping by, smiling when I open the door and spending fifteen minutes, half an hour, whatever time you might be able to spare, sitting and just talking. Having the kind of anxiety disorder I have makes going out in public difficult, to say the least. It doesn’t, however, mean I wouldn’t enjoy a quick “Hi” from those I call my friends.
If you’re worried what my illness entails, it’s really simple. I have depression. I’m not delusional (no more than usual, anyway). Living with depression doesn’t mean I’m sad or a downer. On the contrary, most of the time I feel quite good (thank you, God and Big Pharma for good drugs) and am only missing opportunities to share laughter and camaraderie with others. Having anxiety disorder means I get nervous about some things – sometimes it can be paralyzing; sometimes it can make me look manic, as I find it impossible to concentrate, my mind moving a mile a minute over the same thing – but that doesn’t mean I’m going to freak out on you. Especially if you get in touch with me and we arrange a time to meet, more than likely I’ll be so happy that anxiety will quiet for some time.
If you’re wondering what we’ll talk about, there’s always catching up on one another’s lives. What we’ve done, where we are, where we would like to go. Reminiscing about good times, old times, sharing old jokes. If you’re afraid you might say something that will either make me sad (like saying something about suicide) or might trigger a panic attack, since I talk about it more than most people, it won’t bother me if you talk about it. Furthermore, as what I have is a mental illness, while it is certainly impacted by external factors, the problem lies with my brain chemistry. I’m not sad, or looking to depress others; I’m not sitting paralyzed, curled in a ball afraid to move, or running around like Miriam used to do after watching The Incredibles and pretending to be Dash. I am affected, it is true, by the medication I take, but that mostly means I yawn a lot, move very slowly, occasionally drift off to sleep, and at my most alert resemble someone who has just awoken from a night’s sleep.
If all this sounds like a combination of guilt and begging, you’re right. It’s also a plea for understanding; the hardest part of living this way is the separation from others any mental illness imposes. Right now, I’m not quite able to take the step to overcome that myself. So, I’m asking, if you’re in the greater Rockford area and find some free time on your hands, get in touch with me. I can get you my email address and phone number in a private message on Facebook. We can arrange something. It doesn’t have to be much at all. I’m not asking for a party, for dinner, or even a day-long companion. Like I said, as little as fifteen minutes to sit, do some general catching up will, I can say without hesitation, do wonders for how I feel.