Sunday, August 19, 2007

Situational Depression

Some people do not want to admit they are depressed because this can mean therapy or medications. And sometimes these means are necessary and beneficial. But often we suffer from what is "situational" depression which can be handled as it is: situational. Once the situation shifts or eases, the depression does not have to remain! In fact, we are called to strive for not allowing situations to get us down.

"Why downcast O my soul? Hope in God, now and forever!"

Chronic pain welcomes depression. One seems to beget the other. Those who suffer from chronic pain must develop Psalms to sing.... And, it helps to have an outlet when the going gets rough.

I find that the Sacraments help me endure pain as well as the depression that wants to snuggle in with it. Confession is very good for the verbal outlet and for delving into the self-pity that can align itself through depression. Sadness is not what God desires, and we must pray for joy even though the joy may not, often will not, be noticeable by us or others. The kind of joy that can come with pain is a kind of interior joy of peace, of understanding that there is a reason for the pain and the depression, and that with God it can be managed.

Sometimes I go into despairs, and there are physiological aspects that enter in, such as being worn out, not pacing myself, or not moving about enough to get limbered. With my pain, there is a break-even point, and at that point, resting and lying down must give way to activity, even if it is walking around the house. Gardening is very good for the body and soul as a form of gentle exercise and inner peace. My spiritual father last winter ordered me to "Grow orchids!" So I got some orchids, and they helped me learn much about endurance, slowness, silence, and patience. Once the blooms are spent, the green leaves are just there perhaps for months without more blooms. Orchids are perhaps in relationship in their bloom time to how God has to wait for us to bloom, with most of our days spent in green, in "ordinary time."

Today I became down and have had the tendency for a few weeks. I need something a little more to keep occupied, to be a little more distracted from thinking about myself, but something with people. It cannot be too much, for then I tire when over-peopled, and it must be in keeping with the vocations of suffering and hermit life. I have been praying for something, and it became more urgent today when I realized that I must develop a life apart from my adult children.

They are all going to visit their father and his wife in a warm and exciting city, and my ex-husband and his wife have the physical and financial means to provide a good time. I cannot. All I can offer is my Catholicism, my love, my presence in a more quiet way. They do not come to visit often, and one I haven't seen in a year and probably won't for more years. And, they also have developed independent lives with spouses and girlfriend and in two cases, new babies. They have their own friends, and they are all active, out in the world.

Someone with chronic pain cannot be out in the world, and if one who suffers has offered all to God, God would typically, it seems, accept the soul as a suffering servant. Sometimes, along with being a victim soul, the vocation of hermit could be introduced as well.

Anyway, I cannot be self-pitying, although the situation stings. It is depressing, actually, for I have reared the children and paid the way for the most part, on a disability pension, and the ex-husband and his wife have flourished financially and with health. I should be able to forget and move on, but it is tough when the husband left after I was injured in a car accident. So it goes. And my life is better, yes, and I do forgive, but I do remember, too. But that doesn't make me depressed anymore. What can get me down is the transitions, the accepting and adapting to life as the phases come and go.

So I am accepting that I cannot be the kind of "parent" that will attract adult children and their spouses, who are not Catholic and considering that Catholicism has been my salvation. But now I must delve more deeply into the Faith, and allow my adult children to have their lives free from feeling guilt about me. I must accept if God grants me just some little bit of distraction with others that would involve His Church, if He wills that, and hope to continue on with the vocation of suffering and the accompanying vocation of eremitical life.

The depression may come again with the pain, but at least this situation is being dealt with by doses of reality and prayer, and realizing that to hope for what cannot be is futile--and depressing.


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