Tag Archives: Depression

From “The Word For You Today” by Bruce Christian


Writing about a recent conversation, Rich Hamlin says: “Another guy like me said, ‘I dread going to work.  All these layoffs are depressing.  I keep thinking I’m going to be next.  I’ve tons of work, and my clients appreciate what I’m doing, but I start worrying and there’s no stopping.’  Worrying is the worst of it, and the stories are piling up; friends, friends of friends, people from church, neighbors, parents of our kids’ friends.  An early retirement here, a downsizing there, a severance payment, a pink slip…all put faces on the statistics and…that gnawing fear can make every day an agony.”  The chances are, you may be feeling some shots of discouragement yourself-daily arrows of frustration that wear you down and steal your joy.  Satan’s like a terrorist specializing in guerrilla warfare.  He knows he’d lose big time if he went against the forces of heaven, so he singles out individual believers.  The question is, how do you stand firm when “everything that…can be shaken” is shaking?  Well for starters, Isaiah says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you” (Isa 26:3 NKJV).  If Moses had focused on his circumstances, he’d never have had peace standing between the Red Sear and the Egyptians.  His peace came from knowing he was where God wanted him to be.  Peace in and of itself isn’t the goal; peace is a by-product of knowing: “How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear (honor) you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you”(Ps 31:19 NIV).


Stuck in an alternate Universe

     I left off with being stuck in an alternate universe in my last post, and that’s exactly how it was.  Stuck.  There I was looking in the windows of storefront panes, dirty, scraggly, a caricature of someone vaguely familiar.  Sleeping wherever I could find a place I wouldn’t be hasseled by the cops when it was warm enough to sleep out, and fighting for space in a shelter that contained double bunks for maybe a couple hundred men when it wasn’t.  When you’re standing in the midst of a sea of men the odds of catching a bunk aren’t very good, and when you’re unlucky, which I was; you don’t catch many.  On the rare occasions when I actually got one, it was better than being outside, but not by much.  I may have gotten a bunk on occasion, but I was never lucky enough to get the top bunk.  Try sleeping underneath someone who weighs a hundred pounds more than the bunk’s capacity, snores with the reverberation of thunder clapping, and tries to use your head as a footstool.  It’s like’s trying to sleep underneath an elephant.  You wouldn’t think I’d have run into that very much, but you’d be surprised.  I told you I was unlucky.:)

     If I didn’t get that, I got the guy sleeping across from me that looked like Charles Manson; who’d look at me with insentient eyes, and make chirping noises at me all night.  More than once I caught people rifling through the little bit of stuff I may have managed to scrape together, and if you made a problem out of it the shelter would promptly kick you out, and it didn’t matter who started it.  I spent the majority of nights outside, and the cold ones were spent cowering anyplace I could find that would break the wind shivering uncontrollably.  There’s no such place as comfortable or safe in the alternate universe.

     Have you ever been hurt so bad that you couldn’t lay still.  I was like that.  I couldn’t change the reality I lived in, but I moved around a lot.   I didn’t know it at the time but it was moving around in the alternate universe that opened a door within it.

From There to Here. . . .

     I left off with my best description of what it feels like to live without hope.  I stated that I feel like it’s worse than death, and to me it was.  What do you do when you have no hope.  The short answer is anything and everything you want. When you have nothing to look forward to, care about nothing and no one, and live in a constant state of anger, the door is pretty much wide open for anything.  All the restraints were pretty much off, and though that may sound appealing to some who would even say “where’s the party?”  I promise you it wasn’t.  Not unless, putting your life in a bottle, losing everything in your life, and sleeping in places that even cockroaches wouldn’t go is your sort of thing. 

     People who’ve been there, hopefully not you, know you get into a cycle.  You drink because you’re depressed, and you’re depressed because your life sucks, and because your life sucks you’re angry, and because you’re angry at yourself, and everyone else, you drive off anyone who could be helpful, and because you can’t get any help and can’t help yourself and on it goes. . . .  I felt like a lab rat looking through the glass window of it’s cage.  I could see people who had their lives together, or at least appeared to; who were certainly in a better position than I was, who looked as if they ate regularly, and who wore clothing that didn’t scrape along their skin because it was cardboard stiff with dirt, and there I was in an alternate universe looking in.

     You don’t believe in alternate universes?  You don’t believe they exist, you say.  Then you’ve never been one of the thousands of homeless people who are absolutely and completely invisible in this country.  I saw the other side.  I saw the look of horrified drivers as they looked straight ahead pretending not to see you in your dirty coat with your greasy hair.  The people who hurriedly walked by you scared to death you might ask them for money, and who would shield their children from you thinking you would attack them at any second.  Who in total fear would throw money at you from three feet away just so you’d go away before they had to take a closer look at you.  Believe me when I tell you it doesn’t take long to find out just how cruel, insensitive, and apathetic people can be.

     Feel a digression coming on?  Feel free to skip the next paragraph. 🙂  Each of those invisible people I walked the streets with has a story.  Each of them started out as an innocent child and at some point, because of circumstance or bad decision making, lost their way.  Many of them are tortured souls, lost somewhere in the dark recesses of their minds.  Then there are those who through drugs or alcohol simply came to a stop sign and couldn’t stop.  Now there are people who are entering that alternate universe, and didn’t do anything other than lose their job.  There’s nothing more heartbreaking than seeing whole families living in a homeless shelter.  Want to know what’s wrong with our country go visit people in a homeless shelter, or those people making trips to the food bank every week.

     There I was living in an alternate universe, and stuck.  If you want to know how I got out you’ll have to come back and see my next blog. 🙂

Finding my Motivation

     I left off with saying I’ll try not to make the next post so long, so here goes, but remember, you’ve already experienced one digression.  Anyway, I left off saying I’d lived the first half of my life pretty much for myself, but that I wanted to spend the second half trying to do something good with it.  Sharing my experiences on a blog may be a small thing to a lot of people, but when I said it’s a beginning, it is.  A new beginning, one in which I do have a direction, a purpose, and a strong and sincere desire to make my life mean something to somebody besides myself.

     How does that translate to writing a blog?  It does so in the hope that what I write here might make a difference in somebody’s life. A poem by the poet Emily Dickinson entitled  Not In Vain may seem a little hokey, but I like it’s sentiment.  I know what it is to live for oneself, to think only of oneself, to want only what brings me enjoyment, and makes me feel good.  What I don’t have as much experience with is putting myself last instead of first.  That’s not to say I don’t have any, but I certainly feel like the balance scale in my life is weighed down more by the weight of me instead of others.  I’d like at the conclusion of my life for it to be more balanced.

     So now you know what the motivation is.  The desire to maybe help someone.  I’m sure for a lot of people the desire to help people is nothing new, and even expected, but for a majority of the years I’ve lived, I’ve known a greater number of people who looked out for themselves rather than others.  Over the last 12 years I’ve changed a great deal; consequently, that’s the same amout of time I’ve been married to my wife.  It’s possible there’s some revelance in that, and I’ll let you determine for yourself just how much you think there is.  I can tell you that marriage and children, and growing older does tend to change one’s perspective, and one’s priorities. 

     I’ll tell you something else, too.  My beliefs have changed over the years.  It’s funny, and sometimes not so funny, how much life can change not only how one thinks, but in what one thinks about.   Something else that has affected my view is the world around me, and I don’t like what I see.  I can’t deny that I was part of what I see now as a problem, but those days are over.  Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”  I can see some truth in that, but I think there’s more to it.   I know I don’t have the power to change other people, and to be honest, I don’t really think that people are truly capable of changing everything in their lives by themselves. 

      For years I tried to change the way I lived; notice the word years.  To go into all that I did and was into is just more than I want to go into right now.  Remember, I said I’d make this blog shorter than the first one.  Just suffice it to say I knew more about vice than virtue, and so did a lot of my friends.  Most of those people are long gone, and yet I’m still here.  I tried to change, tried to quit, and I did, over and over again.  It was like putting on a different set of clothes everyday, my appearance changed, but what was on the inside didn’t.  My life was like a kid trying to set a record for the most times riding the same roller-coaster; I’d be on top every once in awhile, but never for very long. 

     I guess you could say I was trying to save myself.  When that didn’t work I looked for someone else to save me.  Twice I married people that I thought could save me.  I’m twice divorced.  You don’t have to work for NASA to figure it out.   Simply put, even the best people, get tired of lies, manipulation, and being used.  Don’t expect to stay in a relationship long if you do this to people because you won’t.  In short, I did everything I could, and the people around me did everything they could, and it wasn’t enough.  I knew I wanted to change, had to change,  if I wanted to live. 

      Ever been in a place that’s totally dark, pitch black, and you’re alone?  You don’t know where to go, or which way is out, and screaming doesn’t help?  That’s as close as I can come to what it feels like to live without hope.  You think there’s anything worse than death?  Try living without hope.  You’ve seen the title for my blog.  You’ll have to keep reading to find out how I got from there to here, and I believe that’s what fiction writer’s call a tease.

Life Of The Believer

     I’ve debated about what to call my blog, and tossed around some different ideas, but I keep coming back to this one.  Mainly because it’s what I want to write about, that is my life and what I believe.  You may be asking yourself what is it that I believe, and as you read these pages you’ll find out, but first I’d like to tell you why I’ve decided to write this blog.  You know that motivation is everything, and too often, I think that people fail to look at a person’s motivation when evaluating what someone does.  People, I think, tend to take things at face value rather than looking deeper, and I think that’s one of the reasons why people are so easily deceived.

     There comes a time in everyone’s life, especially when they’re older, and perhaps wiser, that they start looking back at their lives and evaluating what they’ve done with them, and, for me, that time is now.  I’m a little dismayed that it’s taken me so long  to start that process but nonetheless it’s started.  One thing that’s remained a constant in my life is the fact that I’ve always been a late bloomer, always coming to things a little late.  That goes for the rate of my maturity and my realizations concerning the life I live.  Better late than never though, right?  If nothing else, at least, you can take comfort in knowing that there’s someone else in this world like you, if you happen to be like me, and feel like you’re always a little behind.

     If you’ve read my profile, you know that I’m 49 years old, and if statistics are any kind of measurement at all, that means I’ve already lived over half of my life.  Fine time to start having revelations about one’s life, huh?  Could be worse, I could be 59 or 69, and I won’t go any further because then I think I’d be forced to admit that I’m not just slow, but perhaps something else.  I’ll let you fill in the blank.  Judging from what I’ve read on the internet and who you are that could be a wide range of things, but I’ve learned that one thing I can’t control in life is what people think of me, and how they respond to me.  Hopefully, you learned that before I did.

     Anyway, in looking back, and having a lot to look back upon, I have come to a few conclusions.  It’s rare that I ever come to one because I have a tendency to overthink things, and, more often than not, I’m the guy in Wal-Mart walking through the store holding an item for 30 to 45 minutes debating on whether I want to purchase it or not.  You guessed it, didn’t you?  9 out of 10 times I leave the store without it.  It drives my wife crazy as you can imagine.  She has helped me with this though in her own unique way by making it harder for me by simply grabbing whatever it is I’m debating about, and taking it away from me and not letting me put it back.  Being forced to pay for stuff I’m not sure of has simplified my life by giving me two options which are either being more decisive or shopping by myself.   I’m sorry to have made you read through this, but it was such a wonderful opportunity to score points with my wife that I couldn’t pass it up.  If you’re married you understand why I mentioned the benefit of being married to this awesome woman.  If you’re not, and you get married some day in the future, you will.

     Sorry for the digression, but you may as well find out now that I do this from time to time.   This, too, drives my wife crazy, but after twelve years of happy married life I’ve quit worrying about her sanity.  I still worry about mine, but not hers which leads me to one of the conclusions I’ve come to, and it’s this; married life to the right woman is about as close to heaven as I’m ever going to experience here on earth.  Another conclusion is that a bad marriage is the same thing only it’s in the opposite direction, and I know this, as I know everything else, by experience.  Another conclusion, and by far the most painful, is that at 49 I’ve come to realize that there’s a lot of distance between the man I envisioned myself being as a young boy and the man I am today. 

     As in most things, the failures and successes of my life have been a mixture of bad decision making, and circumstances of over which I had no control.  In other words, life happened.  Ready for another conclusion; if you lead life without any kind of direction it’s a certainity that you won’t get anywhere.  Even for those who do it’s not easy but, as anyone who’s ever driven to an unknown destination knows, it’s a little easier when you know where you’re going.  Still, there’s always hope, and never is life all bad or good, at least it’s been that way for me.  Seldom does anyone’s life ever turn out to be everything one may have dreamed, but neither is it the nightmare it could always be.  All the above is to say simply this, though my life hasn’t been all that I wanted it to be, it’s been good in many ways. 

     Still, there are things I regret, periods of time in which I failed myself, and others miserably.  I made serious mistakes which impacted my life, and the lives of others.  It’s one thing to pay for one’s mistakes, but it’s a terrible thing when the ones you love most are the ones who pay.  It’s my hope that you won’t ever experience this, but if you have you’re not alone.  I’d like to tell you that I’ve made amends for all those things I did, and that there’s been reconciliation and forgiveness, and in some cases there has been, but not in all.  I can’t go back, and you can’t either, and it’s a fact that we can only go forward in life.  Well, that’s not wholly true; you can live in the past in your mind and heart.  You can even stand still, refuse to move forward, but I don’t recommend either one.

     By now you’re probably wondering what all this is leading to, and it’s this.  My motivation for writing.  I’ve spent the better part of my life living for myself, but I’ve concluded I don’t want to spend the rest of it the same way.  I want to know that at least with a part of my life I did something good with it.  Maybe sharing experiences in this way isn’t the best way, but it’s a beginning.  If you’ve read this far perhaps you’ll go a little further, and I’ll try not to make the  next one so long.