I’m depressed again; I know I am because I feel stressed out and the slightest commitment taxes me to the hilt, and I don’t want to get out of bed. When will I ever be able to just be me? For a long time, I have wanted to get beyond my depression, my almost inevitable descent into this illness, and all that goes with that. It is curious to say this but I think that struggling against something has forged my character to a very strong and extreme degree. I certainly wouldn’t be the person I was without this struggle in my life, but at the same time I earnestly wish I didn’t get depressed from time to time. But the sad fact is, I do; so I have to live with it and accept it.
There’s something that’s been troubling me for a long while now. I am a Christian but none of my immediate family and friends are Christian-will I be on my own in Heaven? I am asking a serious question. If all the people who haven’t come to Jesus are going to be lost, then that makes me unhappy. God has called me out of a background where few if any of my family and friends are Christians-where does that leave me and why does God pick someone like me? If God picks some, and not others, how can someone He didn’t particularly pick be blamed for not becoming a Christian? Surely it says in the Bible, words to the effect that God draws each Christian to Him; so then how can anyone be blamed for not approaching Him when they haven’t been called? I’m confused! If only Christians are going to get to Heaven, then what about Moses or Abraham or Joseph or Daniel? Will they be in Heaven? What about all those millions and millions of people on the earth before Jesus’ time, and all those gentiles who were not the Chosen People; what about them?
I wonder if I’d lived long ago, like one of those Victorian fishermen caught forever in a photograph, would I have been any happier, would my life have been simpler? Isn’t that what we all really want, a simplified life, a life where there are no unnecessary complications, no unnecessary situations, where we know what we have to do and we can simply do it? I dream of such simplicity.
Most of us settle for 2nd best; we are sort of forced into it for so many reasons. Because we lack wealth or connections, because we are seen as low on the social scale, maybe because we are unemployed or because we have a low-paying job of some kind or even the colour of our skin or ethnic background; whatever the case may be, for some reason we have accepted 2nd best and we never really expect anything good to happen to us; this was certainly me for large chunks of my adult life. We think that someone more worthy or more educated or ‘posher’ than us has the right to a better life, whereas we feel that we only have the right to a crappy life, punctuated by occasional unpleasant things we have to face and grin and bear and accept through gritted teeth. If this is democracy, then I dread to think of what life must be like in other more backward countries.
The hardest thing in my life is looking for a job while I am unemployed. I apply for dozens and dozens and am lucky to hear back from one in twenty, and that’s usually a no-thank-you. I think of all the millions of people out in the world, struggling to get by, and holding on to whatever dreams they might have that keep them going through the worst times. Life is hard for some people, and we don’t all see life through rose-tinted glasses.
We’re a curious mix of average and unique; how can that be? Many of us are normal people, we don’t really stand out, we don’t dye our hair green and we don’t festoon ourselves in tattoos or body-piercings; we don’t feel the need to foist our opinions down people’s throats; in many respects we’re just gloriously ordinary. But is there something wonderful in being just ordinary, even being gloriously ordinary? I think when we strip away all the pretence from people, all the things that make one person different from another, or better than another, or richer than another, then all of us are just ordinary people at the end of it all.
It seems like I’ve been lying in bed all my life. We are looking for that perfect moment, of peace and happiness and then hope we can hold onto it. What constitutes peace and happiness for one person might be different for another person. My dream of peace and happiness would be to be earning my living as a writer, to be living in North Wales somewhere and from time to time to be able to take walks along the coast or through the wild countryside there. Of course, I pray for peace and happiness every day as a Christian and I know I don’t need material things to make me happy, God can do this for me whatever my circumstances; but I can dream.
Sometimes we hide behind drink or a drug or an attitude, to say to the world we don’t care or to try to be hard or cool or indifferent to other people, or for whatever reason; but the fact is, we are hurting in some way and we do want to connect with other people in a real and lasting way; but often we just don’t know how to reach out to other people without the risk of being rejected or seen as a little odd or needy. The dichotomy of life is that we do need other people at times, but we think we are happy behind our wall of toughness, our wall of loneliness that just won’t let other people in.
Sometimes, I don’t want to face life at all, I just don’t want to face my life at all; it’s as simple as that. And the hardest thing to do when feeling like that is to pick yourself up and just get on with what you have to get on with. I envy those who have happy lives and good careers, or are doing in life exactly what they want and doing what makes them happy; I really do. But it’s not an angry envy, just an envy that makes me work harder to be doing in life what I want to be doing.
We want it all to mean something, that it all makes sense, that we can tie all the loose ends together and they all fit. And when it doesn’t, we can get disappointed. We are meant as Christians to leave it all to God, to let go and let Him work in our lives, but at the same time if we are ambitious, or we want to start a business or carve out a career in some field or endeavour to better ourselves in some way, aren’t we saying that God can only be trusted so far, then we have to take control? It seems to me that in some way we are doing just that; but what is the answer? If we want to paint, even in spite of whether we are Christian or not, we can’t pray for a painting, we have to do it ourselves! How far do we lean on God and how far do we lean on ourselves? I believe we need to pray on this regularly and ask God to make sense of what can seem baffling and impenetrable. Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean that you can’t think for yourself.
I want to say a thousand thousand things and then, sometimes, I don’t want to say anything at all. But for some reason, I’m never lost for words when it comes to writing. Whether these words have any value, that’s another story altogether.
I know I’m depressed because I don’t want to go to bed at night, but when I do stay up later I get tetchy, stressed and overtired; I feel restless and don’t know what to do with myself. I want to sleep, but I don’t want to sleep; how can you find a solution to that? Am I a genius, or a madman? Or both? Or, more likely, neither?
Instead of trying to change the world, it just might be better to change myself.