Winston Churchill referred to that sense of doom and sadness and ennui as the "black dog of depression." It was what haunted him in the dark nights and loomed menacingly at various times in his life.
I know this presence, but Churchill's metaphor falls apart for me, because when I imagine a black dog, I see a frolicking labrador retriever with one of those doggie bandanas around its neck, beckoning me instead to propel myself out of the world of my dark thoughts and make some time to feel a soft dog tongue lapping at my fingertips as I nuzzle his wet nose. And besides, "Black Labrador Retriever of Depression" just doesn't have the same flow.
My sense of looming is more like a large black bird which circles me ominously, the kind that feeds on carrion and waste and invites its friends, melancholy and self-aborption, to join him in the onslaught. There are mornings when I wake up and the trees of my mind are black with their nesting.
It has been a hard winter.
I finally flew the white flag of surrender last week and named the circling looming for what it was. Depression. Burn out. Emotional exhaustion. Speaking the truth of the matter to colleagues, and R., and a therapist.
I have a good life. A richly satisfying life. And I am immensely grateful.
But, the bird still circles. And as often as I shoo him away, as often as I turn my head and pretend I don't see him mocking me, as often as I try to overtalk his cawing, he still sits. And waits.
This weekend has been better. The sun has been shining for two blessed days. I exercised for a good sixty minutes one day. I listened to a prophetic African American preacher at a beautiful memorial service for a client. I closed my eyes and let the music of a gospel choir take me to a different atmosphere as I rocked a sleepy Grayson in my arms. I finally wept.
There are changes that I need to make in my life to take better care of myself, because I don't want to have to leave work I feel called to do because I am too weary. There are changes that I need to make to take better care of my body, because I don't want to have to feel too tired to care for my family. There are changes I need to make to find deliberate Sabbath time, because I don't want to forever be hopelessly uncreative.
But most of all, this: there are changes that I need to make to take better care of my soul, because I don't want to avoid hearing the voice of the Spirit as She soothes me back to serenity.
I'm waiting for Her voice.