Not depressed

I haven’t been depressed for a while. But I said it out loud today. “I’m not depressed.”

The move to Virginia certainly brought up feelings like depression – loneliness, fatigue, a little hopelessness. For me, that’s different from depression, which is lots of hopelessness.  But the transition of moving was hard, like a mild depression without all the full-on depression characteristics. I wondered if the feelings would intensify and change to depression. I think I lived with some fear that it would come back due to the move.

But today, in my psychiatrist’s office, I told him that I’m not depressed.

We’re going to reduce one of my meds, which makes me a little nervous, because it’s the med that brought me out of depression in the first place. But it has a weird side-effect – chewing. I chew my teeth together all the time; I’m grinding my teeth all day. In an effort to keep this from becoming a permanent motion, we’re cutting that anti-depressant in half. I’m a little nervous about it, about the depression returning without the full medication to keep it at bay. But I think I’m in a better place emotionally, and so I’m willing to give the reduction a try.

It’s nice to not be depressed. My days are full of light, not grayness.  I can hear when birds chirp – the finches found my feeder, and seeing them flit around gives me a brief joy. I don’t dread each day, which I had been doing after the move here. I have energy, and am seriously considering adding exercise back into my routine. This was never a workable plan when I was depressed: I knew I should exercise, but couldn’t work up the energy to do it. I still probably sleep too much – I nap almost every day because I have nothing better to do. But I’m sleeping well at night, so I’m not worried about it – I’m napping from boredom, not depression.  I’m eating and sleeping well. I look forward to seeing people. Looking forward – that’s not depression.

I still have brief bouts of sadness or anxiety, but can usually recover pretty quickly with prayer. Getting my eyes off myself and back onto the Lord – who He is, how He sees me and loves me – eases those emotions. When I was depressed, I couldn’t lift my eyes from my misery, and sure couldn’t see God in it.  I had to trust He was there, because I didn’t feel Him at all.  I depended on the truths I knew from Scripture about God’s goodness, because I didn’t sense it, didn’t believe it with my emotions. I had great friends reminding me of His presence and companionship, His faithfulness and care. That’s the emptiness of depression – so self-focused that I was unable to see God with me. Those negative emotions have lessened. Now it’s just occasional – normal – feelings.

It’s nice to feel normal.

Loneliness

I’m writing what’s going on in my life. Which feels like nothing.

I am alone for hours. During the day, the time stretches in front of me like barren land. Some days I sleep in just because there is nothing to get up for.

I’m used to being busier than this. To having more social interaction. To conversations. To people. The silence is so loud!

I need a hobby. Or a volunteer spot. Or a good book. Or a Bible study. Something to do with my time. Perhaps if I filled the hours with reading. Or knitting. Or studying God’s Word. But I haven’t, so the hours drag by.

I’ve scheduled my week so that I get out around people most days. Three times a week, mid-afternoon, I go to my very-part-time job and talk to a few people. One morning I do the same. Another morning (for a couple more weeks anyway), I go to physical therapy for my back, so at least I talk to the PT.  But all of those appointments are an hour or so – not much in my long days.

I don’t really know anyone yet. My job doesn’t lend itself to getting to know the other trainers – we’re each busy with our own students. Joining an evening Bible study didn’t work out this past session due to the job – I’ll try again after the New Year. I haven’t found one that meets during the daytime. A small group would be a nice way to get to know others, so I hope that will work out.

How can I use this time – and I have lots of it – to bring glory to God? What can I do with this time and solitude?

Firstly, I need to receive it as a gift, not as a curse of loneliness. I need to shift my attitude of self-pity, and instead practice gratitude for this time. My life may not always keep this slow pace.

Secondly, I need to use it wisely, and in a way that honors God.  Letter writing, Bible study, praying for others. I do these things a bit, but perhaps if I’m more intentional…

Finally, I need to ask God to give me purpose for this time. To write about my depression experience. To study God’s Word as He reveals Himself to me.  To relax into a good book – my Kindle is full of them. To knit a new scarf, maybe even learn a new stitch. I have lots of choices to choose from!

I need to trade the “I’m so lonely” for “now it’s time.”