Over the weekend I suddenly recognised my sadness and loneliness (even in a week of numerous, joyful, connections with people), my tiredness and insomnia, lack of enthusiasm and abundance of anger, for what they were: symptoms of worsening Depression. After an expression of extreme disappointment, for it has held steady for years, my first move was to book an appointment with the doctor. Then I rested, rang mum, and made gentle progress with important tasks, and the process of healing began.
Monday, I went to the Doctor, and sat weeping in her room. She could see as I walked in, ‘you’re in pain, your muscles, the fatigue, again?’ I described the further symptoms, and she suggested time off work, increased medication, and affirmed my plan to establish some routines during those weeks off work as a helpful strategy for managing both chronic illnesses. ‘You’ve never been this bad before, the pain, yes, but I have never seen you this sad before,’ she said. No, she hasn’t. And we agreed that arresting the downward spiral of Depression is our urgent task.
Later, I went online and found people to help with maintaining my spa-pool and cleaning my house, both tasks I have found it difficult to keep up with myself. I’ve been intending to pay someone to clean for the whole time I’ve been in this house. Every day until now, it has slipped off the list of things to do with available energy. Now, with the Depression worsening, the imperative to get help is greater. I have been able to put up with the house, cleaning it on the rare days I had some energy. Now, it feels important to finally ask for help on this, to stop resisting the impact of the Fatigue on my capacity to do all the tasks expected of a competent adult, and create as healthy an environment around me as I can.
I also took the first step in finding a new chiropractor, acknowledging that it is time to leave my covid-19 safe-haven; and also that as my dear familiar healer of recent times has left her practice here, it is time to put myself in the hands of another. I rely on the help that network spinal chiropractic care offers in the management of my wellbeing.
The next steps for our congregation in this covid-19 season are in the hands of other leaders for a few weeks, as I ask them to do what I, for now, cannot. I have reached the limit of my capacity, and this is the hardest request for help I need to make. It is difficult to shake the feeling that I am letting my people down, abandoning them when they need me. The truth is, however, that if I press on through my worsening illnesses, they may end up doing without me for longer. So I will step back and rest: it’s not only what I need, but what the congregation need, if I am to be healthy and available for them again.
I learned how to ask for help a long time ago: I would not have finished the PhD if I had not asked my communities for help with the financing of it.
I learned how to accept help a long time ago, internalising the lesson that Jesus teaches through his actions, to be graceful in receiving the generosity and hospitality of others. This acceptance of help is itself a gift we offer to each other, the gift of gratitude.
This week, I applied that learning, later than I could have, but better now than not at all.
This week, I took significant steps to care for myself, asking for help, accepting it from people, medication, and time. And even before much of it comes to pass, in the asking itself the process of healing moves forward.