Surprise!

fluSometimes I wish I just had the flu.

You know, you have a sore throat, a fever, a cough, maybe even a little upset stomach. There are very visible, outside symptoms. You can go to the doctor, he (or she) can look at you and compare the data in front of them to what they learned in medical school and then make a reasonably well-informed guess as to what is wrong with you. Then they can write you a prescription that is time-tested to cure whatever it is that is ailing you, whether it is actually the flu or some other illness you’ve managed to contract. Lie down for a day or two, take your medicine, and next thing you know, you’re good as new.

If only problems with the human mind could be as easily solved.

As I have written here before, I was diagnosed a couple of years ago with dysthymia or dysthymic disorder. To show how quickly terminology can change in mental health, however, it is now known as “persistent depressive disorder.” I have tried out several medications in an attempt to curb the symptoms of this particular form of depression, experiencing varying degrees of success with each one. I am currently taking Abilify, which is technically not even an antidepressant, but it seems to be working fairly well for me. “Fairly well,” however, does not equal “very well,” so I made an appointment several months ago to see a psychiatric doctor about what I should be taking.

Now, before anyone becomes overly concerned about me, the term “psychiatric doctor” pretty much just means a counselor-type who can prescribe psychiatric drugs (Yes, I am aware I just totally insulted the profession with that dumbed-down description.). I was not wrapped up in any kind of straightjacket or confining clothing, and no one attempted to have me admitted to any kind of facility. The appointment was more like a friendly chat discussing my symptoms and what medicine (or medicines) might work best to combat them.

Have you ever been to see the doctor, though, nearly absolutely convinced you knew exactly what was wrong with you and what the doctor needed to do to cure you? I approached yesterday’s appointment with that type of mindset. I was depressed and had been experiencing some anxiety-like symptoms, so I figured I obviously needed to review antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications and let the doctor determine which ones would work best for me.

How in the world, then, did I walk out of there with a prescription for Adderall?adderall

In case you’re not familiar with Adderall, it is most commonly used to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (better known as ADHD). I do get sleepy sometimes, but not enough to constitute a diagnosis of narcolepsy, so that only leaves you one guess as to why it was prescribed to me.

That’s right: Mr. Shy, Mr. Good Grades All Through School, Mr. Back of the Room at a Party was told yesterday he met five of the 10 criteria for adult ADHD.

Huh?

adhdI thought people with ADHD were the ones who couldn’t shut up. I thought they were the ones who struggled with bad grades all through school. I thought they were the ones who couldn’t sit still for more than five minutes at a time. I don’t fit any of those descriptions. I just got A’s in my two master’s classes. Why do I have a prescription for Adderall now?

It actually makes more sense than it might initially seem. I have always had a bit of a wandering mind. I remember being young and my dad trying to teach me how to work on cars. I don’t remember a word of what he told me. I know even now during sermons or long lectures, I have a tendency to nod off or lose attention. I have a horrible time getting organized, and as much as I talk about wanting to be a writer, I never actually get focused enough to put anything down on paper (or computer screen). I can barely pick out a shirt to wear in the morning without having a low-level debate with myself.

This kind of scatteredness is what drew the doctor to his opinion that I might need to be treated for ADHD. Actually, it sort of came down to a coin flip between that and anxiety, and since anti-anxiety medicines sort of slow you down and I’ve been struggling with drowsiness lately, we decided to try the ADHD treatment first.

Today was my first day on the drug, so I’m still not sure how much of what I experienced were actual effects and how much was placebo. I do know I was much more awake than I have been for a quite some time, and I did tons of work at my computer today. On the sort of weird side, I didn’t eat anything between breakfast and dinner. Not a snack or anything. Didn’t even want food. I guess this could possibly be a positive, as I seem to gained a few pounds since I started taking Abilify. Kind of hoping it isn’t an everyday occurrence, though.

As with any drug, one day’s worth of results is not enough to measure the effects of taking it, so I still couldn’t tell you if attempting to lessen the effects of ADHD (which I may or may not even have) is the right way to go for me. There may be a complete reversal of treatment in my future. Or there may not be.

Sometimes I wish I just had the flu.

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Straddling The Line

Being out in the open about depression (or any other mental illness, for that matter) is not always an easy experience. There are all kinds of risks that come with sharing an affliction publicly, from public and private misconceptions to outward bias to destruction of relationships. Writing a blog also produces its share of hazards, most of which are associated with who reads it, what they think about it, and what level of influence they play in the writer’s life.

Put the two together. Then just take a step back and watch all the loads of fun unfold before you.

Aside from a couple of instances, I haven’t had too many run-ins concerning things I’ve written about here. Because of my dysthymic, pessimistic, and generally melancholy state of mind, however, I usually chalk that up to the fact that people who know me are much freer with their compliments than their criticisms, and I figure there are at least a couple of folks out there who really don’t like what I do here at all. One of the people I had an issue with before is effectively out of my life now, so I suppose that’s one less person I have to worry about offending. Woot.

Because I’m sort of obsessive about how many people read my posts every day, I try to keep track of which ones are doing better than others. There are a few sure-fire topics that always bring more readers in. Parenting is one. Anything about children always gets lots of views. Memoriams about people who have passed away always do well, too. Most of the time, though, topics with a pleasant vibe do not do nearly as well as the ones that take on a darker tone.

Even in people who do not suffer from any type of depression or mood disorder, there ss-140404-Kurt-Cobain-tease.blocks_desktop_medium_is a certain allure to the darker side of things. Think of the biggest songs and movies of all time. There is usually some element of death or heartache or longing in them. Many of those who produce art are among the most unhappy people on earth. Who did my generation celebrate as its martyr? Kurt Cobain. ‘Nuff said.

With that in mind, it is a real struggle for me sometimes to not just go fully off the rails and spill every deep, dark thing I’m thinking about onto the page. “I don’t know, dude; you’re not real cheery anyway.” That may be so, but, believe it or not, I hold a lot of stuff back. I don’t throw every depressive thought out there for just anyone to hear and judge. I could very easily, and there are many days that I would like to. I would love to delve into the depths I’ve seen the last two weeks, for instance, but I restrain myself.

Why? I guess there are a couple of different reasons. For one thing, I’m scared of how people will react. There are honestly times I am afraid someone will try to commit me. I don’t think what I’m thinking is that bad, but to someone who has never dealt with depression, what’s in my head may seem like a cause for major concern (and maybe it is.). Mostly, though, I’m just not sure how writing about my darkest hours is going to benefit someone else. Maybe if I can frame it in some way someone can identify with, I’ll go there, but negativity simply for the sake of negativity just seems wrong to me.

A thousand different thoughts are swirling around my head right now, and there are so many things I want to be point-blank honest about. I don’t want to give readers another “Here Are 5 Steps to Overcoming Depression!” article because I don’t know what those five steps are. If I did, I wouldn’t be writing posts like this, I can tell you that. I want to be real, but I don’t want to be so real that this becomes a wallowing party or, even worse, an excuse for someone to do something really bad to themselves.

At the moment, I feel incredibly free and incredibly restrained at the same time. For anyone who has ever bared their soul online, I certainly don’t mean to condemn you. Your pain is real, and you expressed it the only way you knew how. I hope it was therapeutic for you. Maybe I’ll let you deeper into my world with an email or a private message sometime. In the meantime, I’m going to keep straddling that line, hoping to not fall too far in one direction or the other.

Tuneful Tuesday: Times Like These

One week from today, I will be 41 years old. I have plenty of thoughts on this, but since it doesn’t make much sense to share them a week early, I figured I would just stick to the usual Tuneful Tuesday routine – except I’m going to talk about getting older next week. Makes sense, right?

I had always believed that turning 40 would be a somewhat traumatic experience. I was somewhat surprised last year, then, when my 40th birthday came and went without much of a bump at all. If anything, I felt relieved I had actually managed to live that long, mainly because of some weird belief I used to have that I wouldn’t live to see 40. I have no idea why I thought that. Looking back, it makes even less sense to me now. Nevertheless, I felt a certain kind of joy at having made it that far.

From 40 to 41, though, has been a different sort of beast. I dove headlong into learning all I could about depression, and at times I’ve gotten kind of swallowed up in the pursuit. I’ve gone through strange periods of dullness, where nothing particularly interested me all that much. I’ve experienced extreme sadness and bouts of melancholy. At times, I’ve felt sort of alone, as if I’m on some sort of island. In short, it has been a trying and taxing year.

The thing about it is, though, I’ve been through it all before.

I have no idea if this is correct, but I’m beginning to get the impression that living with dysthymia involves a long series of falling down and getting back up, of learning and re-learning lessons over and over again. The tough seasons and years come, and they do their best to drag you down, but somehow you still find yourself standing and even finding relief for long stretches of time. It may not be ideal, but what about life is ideal anyway?

“It’s times like these, you learn to live again…”

Happy birthday to me.

Snow Banks & Airplanes

In many areas of the United States, a foot of snow on the ground does not a crisis make. In Kentucky, however, it puts everyone into full-on freak-out mode. Not that long ago, many of us in the western part of the Bluegrass State were shoveling off our driveways and trying to figure out how we were going to get to work (or anywhere) the next day. Once we all made it out of our driveways, we were greeted by some roadways that had been plowed, some that had been sort of plowed, and some that it appeared no one had touched at all.

On the plowed roadways, there were heavy-duty mounds of snow piled up along the shoulders. I’m not sure if they could have actually done any damage to a vehicle if it had struck one of them, but they looked solid enough to possibly cause some harm to not only the vehicle but also the driver behind the wheel.

And, on a particularly down day for me, I had the brief, fleeting desire to drive straight into one of them.

I didn’t, of course. Almost as soon as the thought entered my mind, I recognized it as being insane. I didn’t really want to cause harm to myself or my vehicle that day, but my mood was so low that for a brief second I considered doing something pretty stupid.

Suicidal ideation is an extremely difficult realm to decipher. Many people who have fleeting suicidal thoughts never act on them at all, while the appearance of them in some people can be a red flag for problems to come in the future. It also is not necessarily a byproduct of mental illness. Suicidal thoughts can be brought on by sudden life changes or economic hardship or any number of external factors, so automatically linking them to major depressive disorder or dysthymia or bipolar disorder or any other disruption in the brain can be a mistake.

lubitzI would not say I have reached the point of obsession with the story of Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot who intentionally crashed a Germanwings plane into a mountain, killing everyone on board, but I have definitely become very interested in it. Despite the fact that no suicide note has been found and that Dusseldorf prosecutor Christoph Kumpa has said all data and documents pertaining to Lubitz’s mental state  “don’t show any hint of being suicidical [sic] or being aggressive towards other people,” media reports still seem determined to link this horrible act specifically to mental illness.

In a Yahoo! News story from today, it was revealed that Lubitz had been treated by a psychotherapist for several years because of previous suicidal tendencies. That information supplied the headline for the story, but Kumpa’s earlier quote and the words of a fellow Germanwings pilot who said, “The impression that I got was that he was a normal guy,” were buried deeper in the story. It’s almost as if in order for people to wrap their minds around this terrible tragedy, they must find some mental disorder to pin it on. To think a normal mind would do something this horrific does not seem to compute.

There also seems to be an undercurrent of blame running throughout these reports. As is always the case in times of senseless tragedy, we look for someone to blame. Now, Lubitz is certainly to blame for this particular act, but since he went down with the plane, that only leaves Germanwings to direct accusations at. Should Lubitz have been grounded? Well, no one exactly knows at this point. Should I be banned from driving a car, though, because I had that thought about the snow bank? I don’t think so. Until the extent of Lubitz’s thoughts become clear, can anyone really fault Germanwings for letting him into the cockpit of a plane? He did have a pilot in there with him, after all.

As with suicidal ideation, it is nearly impossible to look at a situation such as this and make a definitive conclusion until every piece of information is uncovered. That could take months or even years, and we want it to all happen in the span of a few days. There is no way I could defend what Lubitz did that day. I’m not even saying he was a decent guy. I don’t know anything about him. I just believe that immediately going after mental illness as a cause for his actions could not only be incorrect, but could also create more of a stigma for those who suffer from it. Not all of us are going to fly planes into mountainsides … or crash cars into piles of snow.

Major Minor

“I got depressed just reading about that.”

These were the words of someone I recently directed to a link on the internet concerning persistent depressive disorder (or dysthymia or dysthymic disorder). I was attempting to give them some insight into the type of depression I have been diagnosed with. Most people I run into don’t even know there are different types of depression, so I try to point out the differences when I can. I guess I do this in the hopes I won’t seem so weird to everyone around me.

Persistent depressive disorder is commonly listed as a minor or low-grade depression. Its effects can last much john-cougar-468x351longer than a severe depressive episode, but they are generally regarded as not being as severe. This description reminds of an old episode of VH1’s Behind the Music featuring John Mellencamp, in which the notoriously crotchety roots rocker recalled being told he had suffered a “mild” heart attack in 1994. I can’t remember his exact quote, but it was something along the lines of “Let’s see you suffer a heart attack, then tell me how ‘mild’ it is.”

Yes, persistent depressive disorder is not exactly bipolar disorder. It’s not postpartum. It’s not PTSD. By comparison, it may be “mild” when compared to these other types of depression. But, man, oh man, can it make life suck. Persistent depressive disorder is described as a depressive mood which lasts at least two years. It is accompanied by low self-esteem, poor concentration, irritability, and plummeting energy. Oh, and did I mention this all lasts for at least two years? It’s no wonder people with persistent depressive disorder are at risk for severe depressive episodes. The thing just wears … you … down.

So, ironically, in my attempt to show how my depression wasn’t as severe as it could be, I managed to convey to the person I mentioned earlier how it actually is pretty bad after all. It just doesn’t hit all at once. It’s more like Chinese water torture, dripping, dripping, dripping. I’ve been through some counseling and, as I mentioned in my previous post, I’m still working to get my medication adjusted. I still have bottom-out days, though. As one of my counselors once told me about controlling my mood, “You have to be as persistent as the disorder.”

psych centralI’m not writing this to garner any sympathy for myself (Okay, well, maybe I am. A little.), but rather to point out that with depression nothing is minor. Nothing should be written off or ignored as “not that bad.” Take it from me, things can snowball very quickly if not dealt with in a timely manner. I’d encourage anyone curious about persistent depressive disorder to read this article at Psych Central’s website. Just try not to get too depressed while you’re reading it.

The Poison Pill?

pillThis is an antidepressant. It is a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, also known as an SNRI. I take one of these pills every day. Its purpose is to help alleviate the biological symptoms of my depression.

I’m not so sure it’s doing its job properly anymore.

Depending on who you ask, antidepressants are either a godsend or a placebo. In either case, they seem to at least do something for people who suffer from the symptoms of depression. For some, the effects are positive. For others, not so much. Even those that seem to benefit from taking them usually have to go through a trial period before they find the right one.

I was prescribed this particular antidepressant I am currently taking once before. The results were not good. I had not undergone any type of evaluation before visiting my general physician with my concerns that I was possibly depressed, and he did not refer me anywhere to have one performed. He prescribed me a much higher dose of this particular antidepressant than I am currently taking, and I had no reference point to measure its effects by once I began using it.

Even though I was wiser the second time around (I had an assessment done and started on a much lower dosage), the ill effects of that first experience still linger in my mind. Basically, my emotions sort of flat-lined. I wasn’t as depressed, but I wasn’t quite as happy as I could have been either. My anxiety decreased, but it nearly decreased too much, to the point where I wasn’t particularly concerned about anything. I made some dumb, out-of-character decisions. I think about all this every day before I swallow this pill.

One week from today, I will be visiting with my current physician to review this medication. I have several mixed feelings about this. I am hopeful in that I may be able to find something that works better for me. I am sad that I may be facing yet another change in medications. I have a sense of dread, stemming from that bad experience I had with my doctor all those years ago. I am afraid, wondering if I will ever find a medication that works for me or if such a thing even exists.

I am wondering if anyone reading this has had any similar experiences figuring out their medication for depression. Granted, I was diagnosed with dysthymia (or chronic depression), so my case would be slightly different than someone diagnosed with something such as bipolar disorder. I’d love to see your comments on this.

Not A Real ____________

beerThis, my friends, is a drink order known as the “Four Provinces.” This particular selection of Irish beers can be obtained at the Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant at Downtown Disney in Orlando, Florida. It consists of Guinness, Smithwicks, Harp, and Kilkenny beers. I can’t remember now which brand was the oldest, but I do remember Guinness was the newest.

Most people who know me know that I do not like the taste of beer. In fact, I don’t really like the taste of alcohol in anything. It might come as a surprise, then, to learn that this order of the Four Provinces was delivered to my table at the restaurant and pub last week.

My last name – Sheridan – is very Irish in origin. In fact, I believe at one time it was actually O’Sheridan. At any rate, without going into a needlessly long geneology lesson, the roots of my family are based in the Emerald Isle. Even though I have never explored these roots in depth, I’ve grown to strongly identify with Irish culture. And, since the Irish are know for their consumption of alcohol, I figured in order to be a real Irishman I’d need to at least sample a little beer if I was going to be in an Irish pub.

My plan seemed to be rolling along smoothly as my wife and I sat and listened to Irish music, watched the Irish dancers, and admired the Irish decor. Everything fell apart, though, once I actually had to taste the beers. With all due respect to my ancestors, they sucked. All of them, with Guinness probably being the worst of the bunch. Not that I’ve ever tasted it, but I can only compare the sensation of drinking Guinness to downing battery acid. I took maybe two small sips out of each glass, and then I was done.

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with myself in that moment. I mean, this was my chance to fully embrace the Irish experience, and I couldn’t even finish one glass of beer. I still list a trip to Ireland as the number one item on my bucket list, and being in that pub felt warm and comfortable, almost like home to me. In an odd way, I consider myself an Irishman by heart. I couldn’t hold my alcohol, though. Does that mean I’m not as authentic as I thought I was?

Of course, the reality of the situation is that there are probably plenty of men in Ireland who don’t like to drink beer. In my mind, though, at that moment, I had somehow convinced myself every male over there walked around with a draught in his hand 24/7. It’s like this a lot for me. Every other guy at the pool knows how to swim. Every other guy knows how to work on a car. Every other guy knows how to fix up a house. I’m always the one who doesn’t feel genuine.

Dysthymic_Disorder-2I was listening to a podcast recently where someone with dysthymia (or Persistent Depressive Disorder) made an observation along these lines: Since dysthymia isn’t full-blown depression like bipolar disorder, they sometimes felt as if they couldn’t even get being depressed right. It was as if their disorder wasn’t quite severe enough to make them “successful” at being depressed. I thought this was both a sad and pretty self-astute observation. Sometimes you don’t even feel like you can even get it wrong correctly.

The cruelest part of all these comparisons, though, is that the assumptions they lead to are never completely true. Plenty of guys can’t swim. Plenty of guys know nothing about working on cars. Plenty of men know nothing about home repair. And just as there are probably plenty of men in Ireland who don’t drink beer, there are an awful lot of people out there who “only” have dysthymia who can rest in knowing that their disorder is no less daunting than anyone else’s.

So even though I couldn’t handle the Four Provinces, I’m pretty sure they’ll still allow me to enter Ireland one day and fulfill my dream. If not, maybe I’ll just make a tour of American-based pubs. I’m pretty sure I’m a real American … right?

Different

A very, very dear friend of mine emailed me several months ago after reading on my blog that I was no longer attending counseling for my depression. I replied that my counselor felt like I had made enough progress to manage my Persistent Depressive Disorder (also known as Dysthymia) on my own, then I joked that I was given a diploma with the words “Not Krazy” written in crayon on it and released back into the unsuspecting public.

She didn’t think that was very funny. I thought it was one of my best depression-related jokes ever, to be honest.

I’ll never forget something my last counselor said before we stopped meeting: “Be as persistent as the disorder.” What he meant was, dysthymia-by-nav-sandhar-sourcesince depression was something that had dogged me for many, many years, it wasn’t going to vanish overnight. In fact, it might never go away entirely, so I would have to be persistent in practicing the techniques I had learned to keep it at bay. What he was saying made perfect sense, so I committed the saying to memory: “Be as persistent as the disorder.”

A funny thing happened after a while, though. I didn’t exactly forget everything I had learned, but I started to feel, well, pretty normal. Since I was rolling along so well, I began to get lax about some things. A bit of anxiety here, a negative thought about myself there, a doomsday scenario forming in my mind every now and then… Nothing to worry about, though, because I had learned what I needed to.

Right?

I’ve come to a realization over the past week or so. I … am … different. I don’t process information the same way a non-depressed person does. If I’m not careful, my emotions get away from me and I do stupid things. Then, instead of forgiving myself, I beat myself up about what I did. I need to pay attention to how much sleep I get at night and how often a week I can exercise. I need to head off negative self-perceptions before they sabotage me.

And I need to do all this every … single … day.

I’m not saying any of this to garner sympathy. I’m saying it because I’m beginning to realize there’s no shame in being different. Some people have to watch what they eat more than others. Some people are allergic to cats. Some people can’t go near a bottle of alcohol. I have to pay attention to what my brain is trying to tell me. If you’re in the same boat, you’re not broken or defective or stupid; you’re just different.

So I guess I need to start living a bit differently than I have been. Which means I need to get back to what’s normal for me. This could get confusing. I suppose I need to be persistent.

Self-Diagnosis

I must be getting old. I found out I was going to have about 30 minutes to kill at the library this afternoon while I waited for my oldest daughter to finish her summer reading program activity … and I was actually excited about that.

For someone who spent so much time studying fiction in school, I hardly ever read fiction anymore. I’m much more into biographies and educational books these days. And since my goal is still to return to college to study psychology, but I’m still trying to figure out the best way to pay for said goal, I often find myself perusing the various titles written on matters such as depression or addiction or any mental behavior that is otherwise out of the ordinary.

I know, I know. It’s not exactly light reading, is it? That’s just the track my brain is on at the moment. Of course, one of the dangers of reading so much about mental disorders is that there is a very high likelihood you’ll run across at least one you think you might have. I mean, if you dig deep enough, there are all kinds of maladies we could ascribe to ourselves. For instance, one time after spending all afternoon trying to straighten one bookshelf, I was convinced I had Attention Deficit Disorder. Turns out I didn’t, but … wait, what was I talking about again? (Just kidding…)

brandon marshallSo today, as I browsed the 600 section of the library, I came across a book titled “I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me,” by Jerold J. Kreisman and Hal Straus. The tagline for the book is “Understanding the Borderline Personality.” My only real knowledge of Borderline Personality Disorder was that NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall was diagnosed with it a few years ago, so I was curious what the authors had to say on the subject.

Of course, it didn’t take long for me to start ticking off the traits I identified with: Mood swings, impulsive actions, lacking identity, etc., etc. And then there was the kicker: The most common type of depression associated with BPD is Dysthymia, known now as Chronic Depressive Disorder … which I was diagnosed with. “Holy crap,” I thought to myself, “it’s worse than I thought!” I got through as much of the book as I could before my daughter was finished, and then I put it back on the shelf because if I took it home I would just obsess over the concept even more.

Now, do I actually have BPD? I don’t know. Self-diagnosis is a dangerous road to travel, and it’s not one I particularly want to go down. You almost become a sort of psychological hypochondriac, jumping at every shadow. Does it hurt to ask, though? Should we stop exploring, stop seeking out new information? How many diagnoses are too many? How many are not enough?

These are just some questions I’ve pondering since this afternoon. BPD is a subject I am definitely not qualified to tackle here, although I would love to hear some testimonies regarding it. Or you just could tell me if I should get a school loan or not. Maybe if I got back in school I’d feel younger and stop wandering around the library so much.

Long Time Coming

I’ve been putting this off for a while now. I knew I was supposed to do it, but I didn’t want to. I’ve been piddling around on my other blog, hoping the idea would go away, but it kept getting stronger. My complete lack of qualifications and my persistent fear of not being good enough did not seem to matter to God. I needed to do this, and He wasn’t going to let me rest until I did.

I feel I should begin by telling you what I am not. I am not a licensed therapist or psychiatrist. The only degree I hold is a Bachelor of Arts in English/Professional Writing. I am not a counselor or a pastor or even a Sunday School teacher. I am not getting paid to do this. And, perhaps most importantly, I am not a perfect person or some kind of “super saint” who is here to tell you what to do.

depression-300x336Here is what I am. I am a 40-year-old husband and father of five who has wrestled with depression for as long as I can remember. I have been diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder (formerly know as dysthymia or dysthymic disorder). I have been through counseling, and I currently take an antidepressant every day. I am also a Christian who struggled for years with the notion that my salvation alone was supposed to make me immune to things like this.

Depression in the life of a Christian is a tricky subject to broach. For one thing, its very existence in a believer’s brain seems to contradict a lot of what the Bible says about joy and peace being ours to claim. It can also be extremely difficult to figure out who is actually suffering from it, who is just a little down in the dumps, and who is using it as a crutch or an excuse to mope around. Throw in the fact that the great majority of people in churches know little to nothing about depression, and you’ve got a recipe for massive amounts of misunderstanding, hurt, and denial.

Perceptions of depression outside of the church aren’t much better, although for slightly different reasons. Whereas a Christian has prayer, the Bible, and the fellowship of other believers to fall back on, those who are not saved are often left with a somewhat more vague hope. They know they need to get better, and there are some great therapy techniques out there to help them achieve that, but eternal peace seems to be largely absent. Victory seems less possible than just gritting your teeth and getting through another day.

I began to feel a desire to write about depression from a Christian perspective, and I’ve done a little of that on my other blog. It never felt like enough, though, and since I didn’t want the other blog to become all about depression, I only wrote about it sporadically. The vision, however, was growing larger. I’ve been pecking at a book idea for a while now, but I felt as if God was pushing me to do something more, something more interactive. I’ve been on the run from this blog ever since.

My goal will be to publish something daily here pertaining to the subject of depression (or other mental disorders). Everything here will, hopefully, be filtered through a Christian perspective. I’d also like to open things up to guest bloggers and those with their own stories to tell. Who knows what else might happen here. I’m just hoping it doesn’t flame out entirely within the first week.

So welcome to Lights In The Darkness. Feel free to leave me a comment about what you might like to see here.