Home / Blog Posts / Fatigue and the Black Dog / Diary of a Chronically Exhausted Vicar. Episode 45

A friend recently shared this Banksy piece of art. I resisted.

For a start, I am not ‘tired’, we are well beyond that. More, I am an expert at resting, one need only read these blogs to know I know how to rest, to discern when it is needed, to embrace it as gift and path to healing.
And I never quit. I spent a year contemplating the end of life as the only way to stop being in so much pain from depression, and I never drove into the tree on the way home, never moved from the chair at the kitchen table that night to act on any of my options. I spent three years pursuing a big goal on the other side of the world with little money, at times catatonic on my bed with despair and fatigue in response to the prolonged stress, and I only came home when the job was done. I have had glandular fever and very low iron on top of chronic fatigue now diagnosed and the depression still with me 24 years on, and I turn up for my people through it all. I do not quit.

I have come to see what my mum sees in me, a resilience, a strength, and I’m proud of it. But in the midst of this current fatigue crash, I began to wonder if I was approaching the limit of that deep, deep, resilience.
Then it showed me more.
As my chiropractor spoke to my inner being, the physical, soulful, emotional, being, on the table yesterday, I felt the resilience respond, yes, we have more. 

Diary of a chronically exhausted vicar image

And I find there’s something new to discover about my resilience.
That I don’t have to have it together, don’t have to bounce back right away, don’t have to fight; that resilience can be the capacity to endure, to be in the depth, the dark, the pain, and trust I will emerge again. Resilience might be trust in resources; the reaching for solidarity and presence from others; the courage to be here; the patience to wait, to take the path through; the strength to enter and not resist.
There’s something new to learn about my resilient nature: more layers to it, more freedom with it, more gift from it.
I was finding the idea of me as ‘resilient’, as one who hasn’t quit, a burden somehow. I was tired of being resilient, of carrying on through all the illness, of achieving despite, of climbing mountains carrying all that weight. It’s hard, and I don’t want it to be hard anymore. It’s exhausting, fighting, struggling, all the time. I have no illusions that life is ever easy, without challenge, but I need a more sustainable way to live with the illness than to be fighting. I need my resilience to transform, to grow, to find another way, and that’s resilience for you right there, the searching for another way to even be resilient and I do it despite myself, refuse to give up. I chose to live 22 years ago in my friend’s little kitchen, and I honour that choice every time I find another way to live well with these illnesses.

What does it look like in practice, this new dimension to my resilience? I have ideas, inklings, new shapes to the rhythms of life in the congregation for me. But I don’t need the answers immediately, for the question itself has lifted me out of despair and back to hope enough for now. I don’t have to have the way, the rhythm, worked out by the time sick leave is over. I only need to trust the resilience, the patience and courage to endure, so as to emerge again from this pain.