Lessons from ministry: me, myself and depression

My recent posts have looked at things I’ve learned from my 7
years at PBC (and the 7 in Nottinghamshire) about being a minister. So to round
the picture out a bit here is the first of a couple of posts on things I’ve
discovered about myself:

The first warning sign was the overwhelming feeling that I
couldn’t keep this up, that the workload was too high and I was getting too
tired; but being paid to take responsibility and sort things like this out meant
I just kept going. The second was crying over someone I’d not heard of before
loosing at Wimbledon, but I pulled myself together and thought, ‘I need a
holiday’.

Autumn came bringing a dark fog, which hemmed me in and from
which there was no escape. I walked to the church office, crossing the main
road, pondering how I could time the crossing to walk out in front of a
speeding lorry; too quick for it to brake but far enough to ensure I was hit. All
warning signs, all ignored or at least downplayed.

And so, one June morning I found myself in the GP’s surgery.
The previous weeks had gone off the edge; I couldn’t face meeting and talking
to people – everything was either impossible or a complete lie on my part;
disconnected from reality, feelings, family I’d hit the buffers.

Depression is an odd illness; it erodes your ability to
think coherently, logically or even at all. Trapped in a dark prison, one with
no walls and no means of escape you can sometimes go through the motions of
doing life, but it’s a mirage.  Christians’ reactions to depression are an odd
mix as well: can you be the leader if you are depressed? Can you be visionary,
pro-active, inspiring and encouraging if your mind has been hollowed out like a
used coconut?

In the two years since, I’ve not talked about it much in
public. I confess I’m torn: I don’t naturally talk about myself and there are
many others with far worse mental health issues, but we need Christian leaders
who are going to stand up, talk about their experiences. Is the person to talk
about it me? Who knows? But blogging about it is a start (who knows who will
read it, share it and critique it once its in the public domain) and in the
autumn I’ll try to share some observations from the journey.

5 thoughts on “Lessons from ministry: me, myself and depression

Add yours

  1. Neil, I too suffered for 4+ years wit severe depression – yet held down my job, grew in responsibilities …. Sharing is hard but people need to know that Christians too struggle and yes, eve suffer with depression. Thanks for this first step – will follow your next posts ardently!
    Blessings too

    Like

  2. Because you write these thoughts.. God will do massive things with them.. Touch many, that you may never know. Be strong brother… It takes someone with courage to be honest.. Isn’t that what we are supposed to do as Christians………….

    Like

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