I’m Not What I Feel

I’m Not What I Feel

Written by Rev. Aaron Vriesman |
Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Mental health affects faith and how we relate to God. Depression can open a new way to connect with the man of sorrows who was familiar with suffering (Is. 53:3), or it can build resentment and rejection of the sovereign God who would allow such a cursed affliction. Choose the former to avoid the latter. 

It is written that if we must boast that we boast in our weaknesses (2 Cor. 11:30). Here goes. Clinical depression has been my reality for at least 25 years now. In other words, the feelings of worthlessness and pointlessness are always there. Sometimes they are lighter and sometimes heavier. There are moments of delight or distraction, but the sadness never goes away. You can run but you can’t hide. It’s always there.

Why this would be a problem is a guessing game. Caring parents and family, knowing and loving Jesus all extend to my earliest memories. No abuse or neglect. No tragedies or traumas. If only there was a loss to grieve or a memory to deal with. Then the sadness makes no sense. As such, there is no solution.

For twenty of these 25 years I have been on medication. I’ve lost count of how many meds I have tried. Almost all of these years have involved therapy, usually on a weekly basis. I’m on my fourth psychiatrist and a sixth therapist. The matter is way beyond the usual platitudes of thinking positive and looking at the glass half full. Diet, exercise, chiropractic laser treatments, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, and light therapy lamps have brought negligible results in my case. If these work for you, wonderful. Therapy has been helpful. Medication has been helpful. I recommend both to make the burden more manageable, but there is no silver bullet.

An endless supply of insults and ridicule will either trickle or torrent through the mind. Spontaneous thoughts of being a loser, a failure, and a waste of space occur daily. Sometimes the thoughts come by the minute. They come out of nowhere and for no apparent reason. Also, an unexplainable deep sense of purposelessness and worthlessness underlie the daily grind. Even when things are going well, a cloud of nothing being accomplished rains overhead. Sometimes the schedule is so full that there is no time to stop or think. Running here and there or a delightful evening with fun people will crowd out the emptiness, but not for long. When the laughter and chatter among familiar faces transitions to a silent walk back to the car, the cloud remains. An unsolicited compliment will renew confidence for a while. For a moment, it seems like efforts are helping someone. Being here means something.

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