Headaches and migraines, high-blood pressure, persistent and painful skin conditions, acid reflux and heartburn, and diabetes were common complaints we heard from our neighbors in La Carpio last week as they visited a two-day health clinic we offered with a team from Vox Dei Community Church in Belton, Missouri.
Others came simply because they’d heard we were offering free multivitamins and a course of anti-parasite pills. As I translated for our friends and neighbors while they sought the advice of the medical professionals from Vox, I gained more insight into the burdens they carry every day, one of which is depression.
J. shared how she frequently realizes she’s been crying and has no idea why. M. told us through tears how she struggles with depression she attributes to her chronic health issues and problems at home. As I listened to story after story of depression and the lack of ongoing care, it shook me up.
I was moved by people’s suffering and inspired by how they continue to carry their burdens with strength all while lacking any real hope of future change. I was also stirred personally because I’ve struggled with depression for years.
“Staring into fog” is the phrase that commonly comes to mind when I think about my lowest moments, the times when I’ve been mired in depression—oftentimes without fully being aware of how the clouds have enveloped me. A number of years ago, it wasn’t uncommon that I’d realize I’d been staring into fog for more than 30 or 45 minutes without realizing it.
I hate staring into fog. I hate how it makes my family feel—unwanted, underappreciated and unloved. I hate how staring into fog makes me feel—isolated, numb, confused and alone.
During the last year or two, I’ve become much better at identifying the fog as it begins to pool around my legs, and how to disperse it. I’ve begun to learn what my mind and body need to fight off this persistent foe, including good sleep, regular exercise and other healthy habits.
For me, much of what I needed was education about what was happening to me, and the patient love of my wife and family. I’m by no means fog-free. After having four short-term teams in two months and a lot of construction going on, I feel the fog gather at my ankles. The truth is, I can’t make depression go away by the force of my will. I can’t decide it’s gone or ignore it like the pain in various joints when I jog.
My local therapist told me its quite common for people doing the work we do to experience burnout and the fog of depression. She says that our capacity for stress is reduced from ongoing conflict, relational tension and exposure to trauma and suffering. She also encourages me that its possible to recover and regain stress tolerance and leave depression behind.
I feel hopeful for the future and believe the timing of our furlough and the role as Missionaries in Residence at JBU is a gift from God. Please pray with me for continued healing and discipline in healthy habits that keep me from staring into fog. In addition, please pray with me for our neighbors in La Carpio who experience fog on the margins as a normal part of life. I stand in awe of the burdens they carry.
Quote of the month
""At the margins is the only place the Church will have credibility."