The whites of their eyes and the blood of the Lamb
by Brother Andrew
My undergraduate degree in Psychology informs me that no one can cause us to do anything, we must make the choice, and no one can really upset us unless we allow ourselves to be upset.
What I am saying is that I have owned my part in the incident leading to my depression, yet what I cannot do, yet, is forgive myself for it, the reason that I am depressed.
When I first began to experience extreme mood swings in the early 1990's I used to use the tool of Activated Imagination to dialogue with my inner self and to converse with Jesus - in the past, I have used many tools, to strengthen my faith, to keep my head above worldly waters.
Yet this time I do not do so because I do not want to, presently my ego self has mastered my core being so that what I would do, I do not do ...
These days I hardly remember what it was like not to be depressed; having Bipolar Affective Disorder, many thanks to epilepsy. I had tried to make the Beast my friend. When the chemicals were at war, though it hurt and angered me, it was easier to manage since I knew its origin.
To a greater degree than I had once thought possible I managed my condition within a close relationship with God and the Church; when I lost the battle, or faith faltered I found surety in the concept that the Faith within the Body of Christ held me there when I could not hold myself.
In 2004, while living through an episode of Mania, someone challenged my concept of reality. During my manic episodes I always find it difficult to keep an even keel as eyes, ears and mind deceive me. I hear voices, see things, and am exceedingly paranoid.
Well an erstwhile friend struck at me, so I perceived, and what resulted upset my Ground of Being and struck at my reasons to believe in Christ, I perceived another Christian as damaging my equilibrium; I damaged my trust in the Christ Body and resultantly have struggled since then to rebuild my Faith. What had begun to upset me during Mania became a Beast of the fowl-est proportions, yet uncaged, if I could but catch it, I would bend its neck to the chopping block and there end its days.
Maybe dye its white feathers red as blood; all this aside and all tangled together like a frayed and knotted rope are all the life and family issues that have almost beaten us, my wife, and me, into the dust. Death, sickness, bills, crowded housing, lack of transport, a shrinking circle of real time friends - I have plenty of the ether-net variety - all these things compound themselves until I feel that I am the dust beneath a vibrating plate compactor becoming the pathway to my own journey's end."
In the time between then and now, I have reclaimed that erstwhile friend, yet the trust is no longer there. I have welcomed that one back, forgiven the person, even, but I cannot forget what nearly caused me to lose my faith in my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. I am a proud man that holds grudges, grudges that make me seem innocent because there is one thing my manic self cannot be and that is guilty. From without, the mania depression encircles it and feeds on my guilt, compounding my pain until I am almost as battered and thin as some litter under that vibrating plate compactor, continuing the insurrection that ought, by now to be last years news!
Another aspect of Depression, I believe, is that, not only do we create our own depression unique to us, but that we allow ourselves to be depressed as long as our uniqueness desires, hence the above. It is a vicious cycle of self-pity, recovery, self-recrimination anger, blame, envy and guilt, joy and redemption – and we, I encourage and feed it until I am ready to stop!
Atonement comes when we welcome our depression, when we admit to ourselves that it, with us, is filled with the Spirit of Jesus; for we must love the depression in us because it is the better part of us.
I know that when I can embrace my Beast and call it friend then shall I find Atonement and my innermost core shall be released from the strangle hold of my fearful self.
I have that choice and so do you. O and don’t be afraid if you fail because there is no such thing as success, just one day at a time, one hour, one minute; whatever it takes.
Br Andrew EFO, professed in the Ecumenical Franciscan Order lives with his wife Jessica in Darlinghurst NSW. Jessica is visually impaired, with other challenges, now in a wheel chair relies fulltime on Andrew as her full time Registered Carer.
Once in the active ministry, Andrew’s current ministry as a Franciscan brother is as an Online Prayer Ministry, at Ourprayer.com, Br Andrew also has his own website at rev-andrew.com where he attempts to provide fresh translations of St Francis’ works and to comment on these.