My Back Porch, A Blanket and a Fire to Keep me Warm

Cover of "Laughing in the Dark: A Comedia...
Cover via Amazon

I made a reference yesterday about the year I lost it. Those of you who’ve known me for a while know what I’m talking about, but for the rest let me fill you in a little. Life got crazy from 2003-2004 and while trying to handle everything on my own, I eventually snapped. You might say I went through an 18 month season of sifting, pruning, and deep grief. Some of it was my own making, and some of it was not. Whatever label you want to put on that season, the end result was the same, I was diagnosed with clinical depression in June of 2004. My depression was so deep that I spent the next 12 months in what I call an emotional black out. I functioned, but as my friends would say, “the lights were on, but ain’t nobody home.”

I’m not sure when I snapped exactly. The downward spiral began in 2003. Within roughly 14 months from March of 2003 to May of 2004, I ruptured my ACL,  buried 10 of my closest friends, lost the only school my kids had ever known, among other more personal issues I won’t bore you with here, and I erroneously believed the “cure” for my grief was to take on more responsibility. Pretty arrogant hunh?

By the time my brain and denial collided, I had already spent months sitting on my back porch every night. I’ll never forget being wrapped in a blanket, chain-smoking, and staring into the blankness,  for hours at time. In the morning, I’d wake up, pull up my bootstraps and drive to work across town.  As soon as work ended, I would go back on the porch and shut down.

When I finally did see a doctor, I was pretty deep and he was ready to put me in the hospital. This is how depression lied to me, I was blaming someone for mine. A few someones actually and my response to my doctor was “I’ll be jacked if I’m going to give him the satisfaction of putting me in the nut house. I’m stronger than he is.” As if I was the center of some evil plot to drive me insane. Depression lies to us, big time. For some strange reason my doctor didn’t force the issue and we settled out-patient therapy instead.

My pride and ego got in the way from allowing myself to be hospitalized. I should have listened to my doctor — I would have recovered much more quickly.

The good news though, is I did recover. I spent three plus years in therapy, both group and private, and on medication. I learned how to be more authentic and honest with my thoughts and feelings and I learned what to watch for in case it happens again. In my case, I have not needed meds for roughly three years, but if I ever spiral again I’ll be on them for life.

Several of my friends and acquaintances have experienced depression in their lives.  I met Chonda Pierce during my downward spiral. She is a sweetheart and she writes about her own experiences in Laughing In The Dark.  There is a blogger on my page, Pastor Todd Peppercorn (You can see him listed under Pastor Blogs). He writes When I Trust My Dark Road and I read him from time to time.

I could rattle off a few more names of people I like who have been through depression, but I hope you get my point. While I was never suicidal, a lot of my friends who experienced depression were. I lost a friend to depression ten years ago, and that breaks my heart. Depression kills.

 It was during this dark season that I did in my old blogs and threw away a lot of my writings. I did that because I believed at the time that I’d never be a writer or speaker or of any worth to God or anyone else ever again.

Wow was I wrong.

I’m bringing this up today because a friend of mine posted a plea on her Facebook page — she said “You’re too blessed to be depressed is bs. Don’t say that to anyone. Ever. Please.” She’s right. It’s not true and it’s not helpful. Depression is real. It’s not self-pity. Depression hurts. It debilitates and it lies.

A local pastor and part-time mentor is seeking in patient treatment for his depression and burn out. While my heart hurts for him and his family, I admire his humility and his willingness to seek treatment. 

I do know that while I was depressed I sought God in the things of God, in myself, other people, and my work. In seeking him in the wrong places, I missed him along the way. It was only after I fell apart that I found his healing and his Grace. Today I know the hope and the healing that comes on the other side. I pray the same for for anyone else suffering today.

 I found my voice, my courage and my king in my dark night — getting help is not a sign of weakness, it’s sign of strength.

Thank you for letting me share.


2 thoughts on “My Back Porch, A Blanket and a Fire to Keep me Warm

  1. One thing about it, we can defintiely say “It’s all in our heads” when speaking of depression. And it spills out to every other particle of our beings…and often into the lives of those closest to us. Every person should experience depression for at least one week just to know what it is like and then maybe they would not say stupid things like, “Why would you be down? Look at what you have?” It seems if it can’t be seen on an x-ray or surgically removed, it isn’t real. HA! Sometimes things just overwhelm a person and there is a breaking point where the only solution is to get help, whether in counseling and/or medication and/or confinement.


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