Wednesday, January 25, 2017
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.
-King David in his wilderness time from Psalm 34:6
In the Wilderness
I’m still learning this: Sometimes God delivers us out of the wilderness, but often he instead chooses to walk with us through it.
I guess that is my story.
My wilderness is depression. From time to time, the black dog of depression (this term was coined by Winston Churchill) ravenously attacks me.
I cannot understand it. I only know that in the recent month, the black dog was all over me.
It led to my decision to check into a Psychiatric Hospital. In nicety, they call them Behavior Hospitals, but regardless of the name, they are a tough place.
I checked myself in. I had the solid support of DeDe and our three sons, but it was my decision to walk in there.
Being there was the worst week of my life.
But it was also the best.
In spite of the harshness of life inside the unit, I was surrounded by so much love and friendship. I was blessed with an excellent doctor who aggressively addressed my deep depression/suicidal* thoughts with strong medicine and guidance.
I was surrounded by family and friends who called and visited when they could.
I can’t say enough about my strong wife DeDe.
Our three sons, Clay, Clint, and Terry stepped up and took care of both DeDe and me.
Terry, who attends school near Boston, flew home to be with us. Words cannot describe what that meant to me personally. I told him that I’ll never get over his sacrifice and love in action, and the same is true for Clay, Clint, and their precious wives.
Just as I walked in on my own, I walked out last Monday.
People ask how I feel. I can only answer, “Grateful.”
They also ask, “What’s next?”
I’m still in the wilderness. It will probably be my journey for the remainder of my life, and I’m all right with that.
I am not alone. As the fog of depression lifted, I was reminded I wasn’t alone. The Jesus I’ve followed for all of my adult life is still with me. He’ll walk with me through whatever terrain lies ahead and that’s good enough.
I’ll be adjusting parts of my life to live healthily. I’m very excited about resuming writing on my current novel, As the Crow Flies, as well as other projects.
At some point, I’m sure I’ll share a few stories from my week in the hospital. I’ll simply say this: watching the entire Trump inauguration in a psych ward (with patients and staff) was entertaining, insightful, profoundly sad, and as funny as heck.
Transparency will continue to be a watchword for 2017. Don’t worry, we’re not going to drag you down with negativity. *It was very difficult to even type the word *suicidal in an earlier paragraph. But if I can encourage someone who has reached hopelessness to reach out for help and hope, it will be worth it. I really believe that is the reason God has chosen for depression to be part of my journey: to let others know it’s all right to reach out for help and say, “I’m hurting.”
That’s not a source of embarrassment, it’s a very brave act.
We’re going to continue the mantra that drives Creekbank Stories:
There are lots of stories waiting to be told.
I’m excited about introducing you to Missouri Cotton and the Westport Fight of 1881, telling about Stella’s Uncle, resuming my three weekly blog posts, and relating stories from the two worlds I live in: a city called Alexandria and the place where my roots are deepest, Dry Creek, Lousiana.
This weekend I plan to be in Dry Creek burning my field of longleaf pines. It looks like perfect humidity and the right north wind. Getting some wood smoke in my lungs is probably just what the doctor ordered.
Thank you again for your prayers, messages of concern, and how many of you reached out to my family.
When I say the Creekbank Family is a tribe, I mean it in the highest sense of the word.
Tribes take care of each other.
And in the end, that is what matters.