A few days ago, I was sitting in my work chair in the living room. I was supposed to be writing one of the two sermons I have to produce each week. I had done the research, I had a theme, the sermon was part of a series so I had some sense of where it was supposed to go–all I had to do was start writing and soon, I would have a sermon ready. Except, that wasn’t happening. I was struggling–not because of the topic, not because of interruptions, not because the computer was giving me trouble. I just couldn’t get started and when I finally got started, the words didn’t want to come.
I finished the sermon finally and went on to other stuff until it was time to go see some people in the church. Being an introvert, that is something I always struggle with a bit but that day, it was really hard to get motivated to go out and see people. I went, I saw people and I actually enjoyed the contacts.
But on the way home, as I was thinking about it and had a scary thought. I put my struggle with the sermon together with the increased difficulty going to see people and began to think, “I’m depressed”. Depression is something I struggle with and the thought that it might be making another appearance bothered me a lot.
But as I began the process of dealing with the depression, I ran into further problems. Normally, once I realize I am slipping into depression, I look for the trigger(s), whatever it is that started the process. But try as I might, I couldn’t find any trigger. Nor did I find all the normal stuff associated with my depression–for example, I was still listening to the car radio when I was driving. When I am depressed, I just can’t do that–I have to drive in silence.
So, I wondered some more–was I slipping into some new, unknown expression of depression that was growing out of some deeply repressed stuff that would send me into a long and difficult bout of depression and struggle and all the rest? I don’t like the depression process that I have dealt with too often in my life and so tend to be somewhat anxious about everything connected with depression. Not being able to get a quick hold on it was depressing me.
As I worked through the stuff, I realized that what I was experiencing might not be depression. It also wasn’t likely some other form of emotional upheaval either. There was nothing major percolating up from the depths and the surface stuff wasn’t all that much of a problem, except for the fact that there was a whole lot of it and my personal time was getting lost.
I was missing exercise time; I was having less personal time, I was spending much more time in intense contact with people, I was putting in too many hours at both my jobs. I looked at the whole picture and realized that in the end, I was tired, not depressed. I do realize that physical fatigue can and does lead to serious stuff and in my case, prolonged physical fatigue can indeed lead to depression but what I was (and am) dealing with here was tiredness, not depression.
I can deal with that–probably not right now but eventually. I am tired because a variety of things have come together requiring a lot more work than normal. There is a slow down coming–that isn’t the workaholic’s “someday” dream but rather is a basic reality. A lot of the stuff keeping me so busy will soon be done and churches simply don’t do all that much in the summer. In the meantime, I can do a few things, like allow myself to take longer to write sermons (and blog posts), exercise when I can, take a nap now and then, watch a TV show, plan and take some vacation time or just enjoy sitting and doing not much of anything.
I am tired and not depressed. I do need to take the fatigue seriously but fatigue is much less painful for me than depression. While I might not be overly thankful for being tired, I am deeply thankful that it isn’t depression and even more thankful that I can tell the difference.
May the peace of God be with you.