Sunday, August 31, 2014

One Shade of Gray

For the last four or five years I've walked in a dark grey fog. It was not the deep, black hole I had been spiraling into since my teen years that Prozac lifted me out of twenty years ago. It has been more an obscuring, dank, and oppressive mist that had no substance enough to grasp on to and wrestle with.  I know the difference between despondency and despair.  Joylessness is not suicidal, it is just, well, joyless with glimpses of diffused light out of the corner of your eye.

I knew my way well enough around my landscape: church, family, children, work, public image, to sleepwalk for the most part without falling off the edge, hitting the brick wall or doing irreparable damage to myself or others (that I know of). I lived by the braille of non-debilitating depression: memory, habit and behind the protection of a well rehearsed and finely crafted facade.

Self-medication, avoidance, abbreviated encounters, non-engagement, silence, superficial connections, false conversations, diversionary quips, misleading humor, inscrutability, all are the commerce of despondency. They became my repertoire for muddling through a day, and the next day and the next years. The consequences of choosing one over the other were irrelevant, they all worked for muddling. It drives one to desire death but does not provide the guts to die.

So the fog is slowly dissipating these days. The light breaks through, I see the outline of the sun through the heavy mist. In the shadows cast I see the prints of footsteps past and, though they are few, they are going, for the most part, in one direction.

These days, avoidance is not the first and visceral reaction but a calculated one. There is substance and purpose to conversations and encounters when chosen. Oblivion is not the preferred state, though it is still medicinal after purposefully entering the arena.

It is good to see the contours of life emerging from the murky shadows once again.


Bill M said...

Thank you.

Matushka Anna said...

I'm so sorry to hear about this, Steve. I've struggled for 25 years with depression and still know many times of fog and joylessness. The demons take advantage of our weaknesses. Good to hear the fog is lifting.

Anonymous said...

"Self-medication, avoidance, abbreviated encounters, non-engagement, silence, superficial connections, false conversations, diversionary quips, misleading humor, inscrutability, all are the commerce of despondency."

This really caught me off guard, because, aside from self-medication (unless caffeine counts), I engage regularly in this commerce but never associated it with despondency. There's much to meditate on in this post.

Steve Robinson said...

Anon, I would say this is probably more true if you find yourself doing this in relationships or situations that you once enjoyed rather than in relationships that you just don't want to get into any deeper. Sometimes avoidance is wisdom, not depression.

Lee said...

I see a lot myself in this post. Thank you for sharing.

Steve Robinson said...

Lee, I think there are a lot of us out there. Blessings to you and your house as you muddle through.

Anonymous said...

Thank your for posting this. I have often been in this state--probably am right now. It is hard to square with our faith sometimes. If I am indeed given the Holy Spirit, why do I have no joy?


Steve said...

k, I don't know. What I do know is, without the Holy Spirit I don't know where I would be. The Spirit is not magic, nor a rapist. As a construction guy, I know that you can only do so much sometimes with a structurally damaged building. Peace.

Richard said...

Steve, I can identify with this totally. I have bipolar and have good seasons and bad, but there is often this nagging background of hazy grey which distorts my relationships and behaviour. The one I find toughest is the 'all is well' front I instinctively portray which makes it all the more shocking to others around me to find out I have MH problems or if I go off work (as I am now) with a flare up.

I recognise that desire to die but lacking the Will to enact it. The difference is that I don't want Oblivion but healing in Paradise and rest.