In the view fom Urqurhart’s Bay, Whangarei Heads, there is a magnificent mountain, Mount Manaia. This mountain somehow represents such strength to me and I really enjoy looking out to it each day. One of the things that I love about this mountain is the way that it looks spectacular and very different from different angles.
However, this morning when I woke up there was a change in our view. Mount Manaia was completely shrouded in mist and only its silhouette could be seen.
I thought that this was a very good illustration of how depression affects me nowadays. It is often when my physical pain and headaches are very bad that the mist falls. Even though I am usually bold and strong in spirit, seemingly out of nowhere a mist covers my brain. During these misted times I feel weak, anxious and hopeless. However, at these times I have to cling to the fact that just as the mist over Mount Mania clears within hours, so too will the ‘mist’ over my brain. That I just need to rest in the knowledge that it will move on and the strength and boldness will return.
I find it very hard when under the ‘mist’ to remember that I even possess strength, that my life is full of hope, and that there are things to look forward to. Depression is really hard like that in that when it comes, it completely shrouds my brain and momentarily blocks all memories of happier, stronger times.
There is something else about the mist that falls during these times - it seems to block me from seeing, feeling or hearing from God. God feels distant and when I look up or around me all I see is the thick mist. It is during these times that I struggle to see the light that inspires me, hear the voice that encourages and lifts me, nor feel the hope that leads me on.
One thing that has really helped my during my low times over the years has been in turning to the Bible. The words of King David have helped me so much. He knew and understood abandonment, fear, despair and sorrow and expressed it clearly in the Psalms.
“O Lord, the God who saves me,
day and night I cry out before you.
May my prayer come before you;
turn your ear to my cry.
For my soul is full of trouble
and my life draws near to the grave.
I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am like a man without strength.
I am set apart with the dead,
like the slain who lie in the grave,
whom you remember no more,
who are cut off from your care.
You have put me in the lowest pit,
in the darkest depths.”
Something about the Psalms that has also really helped me is the way that when David turns to God he always finds strength and senses joy again.
It has also been a real inspiration for me to see that relatively quickly, sometimes within the space of a Psalm, David is able to see the light and feel joy again.
“I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;
With my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
through all generations.
I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
That you have established your faithfulness
in heaven itself.”
I have also found real peace and inner rest in turbulent times through David’s words in Psalm 62.
“My soul finds rest in God alone;
My salvation comes from him.
He alone is my rock and salvation;
He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”
I love the visual imagery that this Psalm brings to my mind. When I have gone through periods of feeling overwhelmed by anxiety I have visualised a solid rock fortress around my mind that no thoughts can penetrate. In visualising this I have been able to halt my racing, anxious thoughts, seeing them unable to get past this wall. When this image has sunk in, my soul and mind have found rest.
Through the Psalms I believe that David has shown that it is actually alright to feel fearful and anxious one day, and then to feel at peace, happy and joyful the next. I believe that this isn’t a sign of inadequacy or weakness, but is in fact part of the human condition. What I believe is the key is that what enables this change to happen is in David’s turning to God.
I have personally found that during my ‘misted’ periods, even though I can’t see or feel God, when I turn to Him and express the pain I am feeling, I know He hears me and will answer in His good time.
"How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me."