As I write this, I am on the heels of a depressive episode that has threatened to kick my legs out from under me. For almost a week, I’ve been holed up my apartment; sleeping, watching television, staring at the computer screen. Menacing voices scream inside my head even as I hit the letters on my keyboard, yelling that I am an impostor, that I have nothing to say that people would want to hear.
At times like these, the fact that God delights in me is far removed from my thoughts and feelings. Instead my thoughts are filled with things I’ve done wrong, my feelings are dominated by regret and shame. I sleep and sleep and sleep some more, but even my dreams are distorted by fears that I am unlovable, that I am alone in a pit of despair, far from delight.
But I’m not alone. I know this, even when my feelings and thoughts are disordered.
When I open up about my mental illness, people respond in various ways. Some treat me with kid gloves. It is like they are afraid that one wrong word might set me off into a blind psychotic rage. Others avoid me altogether, as if my illness is contagious, that some demon inside me would suddenly jump into their psyche if I got too close.
There are some, however, who respond in ways I can only describe as transforming. As I share the delight in Christ I have found in the midst of my mood disorder, we share in the recognition of how God’s grace is sufficient for us, God delights in us not only in spite of our disorder, but because of it. We may feel like we are alone. We may even think we are alone. But, we are not alone. Far from it.
But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me. (Psalm 22.19)