There’s a tape that plays in my head, as is common for people who suffer from depression. I’ve learned that a key to beating depression is teaching myself to minimize this tape. Some days I’ve been successful and some days I haven’t. Thankfully I’ve had more success as of late, but the last week has been bad.
When I mess up the tape that plays in my mind tells me, “Of course you messed up, you’re an idiot. You retard what did you expect!”
When I talk to my friends about my struggles the tape tells me that they don’t want to hear about my problems. That I’m being unfair and dumping my problems onto them. That I don’t deserve to have friends and that everyone would be better off without me in their lives. That those who are my friends actually aren’t, they just can’t get rid of you. When a friend or a loved one dies my tape tells me that that should be me, and deep in my heart I want it to be me. I feel awful for it. I know it’s wrong and I have so much to live for, yet it’s there. I’m being selfish in those moments while at the same time trying to comfort my friend or loved ones.i
On a successful day I can fight against these tapes. I can cling to the positive and up building comments that my friends give me. Even criticism can be looked at with a positive spin – as a way to move forward and as the help that it was intended to be. I can cling to the hope and promises of God. I can realize that just because something went wrong at work or elsewhere in my life doesn’t mean it’s all my fault and doesn’t make me a failure. Part or most of the blame may fall on me but there are almost always a number of factors that played into whatever happened.
On a bad day the tape is crushing. This past week has been a battle to get out of bed. It has been a battle to fall asleep as the tape loops over, and over, and over… My mind races with thoughts. Worry and anxiety boil up and I can’t calm myself or ignore my thoughts. The nightly tape goes like this: Have I chased away my friends? Have I ruined another relationship? Will they ever speak to me again? When they talk to me are they merely putting up with me? Do they love me as much as I love them? They must all be faking it, who could ever be this broken wretches friend? Who could ever love a failure like me? This tape plays over and over again. It’s by far the worst part, I can live with being a failure but not the thought of being alone. The paranoia and insecurity can be overwhelming. I know those thoughts are irrational and yet they feel so true. I can’t gently push them aside or follow the mindfulness techniques I’ve learned. It can loop over and over for hours on end. It’s tiring, no it’s exhausting. Yet there’s no sleep or rest.
So I confess with Paul in 2 Corinthians 5, “[W]hile we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”
I still have hope, my confidence is in my Saviour and I know that this wave too shall pass. I think on the positive things my friends have told me, the times they reminded me that we are true friends and not counterfeit. I recall the answered prayers of the past and cling to them as I go on into the future. And with thoughts like this, even though I can’t shut off the tape at least I have something to play over top of it.