Sometimes I stand in the darkness and feel its power. It is smothering; dampening; oppressive; crushing all hope. Today near dawn, I stood in the darkness and felt the power of that hopelessness. This is not the world I anticipated. Gone are the tenets of unselfish love; of benevolence; of respect for others — religious beliefs included; of manners and kindness; of true love. Gone is my God, seemingly erased and eradicated by a new god that looks back at me each morning from my own mirror and from the countless perfect snapshots of a billion selfies. Gone is kindness and empathy and warmth. Gone is dialogue in the face of endless monologuing.
I work in the darkness. I am a radiologist and in order to view the diagnostic images on my monitors, I must keep the room dark. I am surrounded continually by shadows. It is my world.
For the past few months, those shadows have slowly, inexorably moved into my world outside of work. They have slowly and quietly slipped along the floor and the walls and the ceiling with cold tendrils of blackness. The shadows have embraced me.
When I am strong; when I am attentive to the moving of God in my life, my mind, and my soul; when I pay attention to that still, small Voice; when I am seated at the foot of the cross the Light presses back the shadows. But, when I am weak; when I am troubled; when my attention is captured by the immediate and the urgent instead of the important I am distracted. I fail to look over my shoulder at the creeping darkness. I take my eyes off the Source of Life for my every breath.
It’s been three years since we lost Robin Williams and here is the post I shared on this day three years ago:
Granny Wendy: So… your adventures are over.
Peter Banning: Oh, no. To live… to live would be an awfully big adventure.
It was January, 1992 and I was lost and alone in Los Angeles. In looking for the hospital hosting my radiology meeting I had somehow ended up in East L.A. a most unsavory and dangerous place. In the days before GPS, I had to rely on a map and somewhere I had made a wrong turn. I said a silent prayer for safety and slowly made my way through the prostitutes and drug dealers converging on my vehicle. God was with me that day and I made it safely out of that area of the city and found my destination. At the end of the meeting that evening, I hit the interstate and headed back toward my hotel on the grounds of Disneyland. There, I would be safe and protected from the harsh world of reality I left behind. There, I would find magic. And, I desperately needed some magic in my life.
Hope Again: A 30 Day Plan for Conquering Depression is available for a limited time only on Kindle for only 99 cents. You can find it at this link.
And, you can go to our website, conqueringdepression.com, to order LifeFilters.
Start off the new year by conquering your depression before it conquers you!
“You saved my life.”
I’ve heard these words before. Usually, they come from a total stranger through an email or a letter; someone who has picked up “Hope Again” and the LifeFilters and found them an answer to a desperate prayer for help. Let me be honest. I NEVER take such a statement lightly. Every time someone expresses this to me or to Mark Sutton, I am equally shocked and humbled.
This past Sunday, I shared a story with my family at our annual Hennigan Family Christmas Party. I won’t detail the story. Just know that the point of that story was to share with my family how a seemingly painful and potentially fatal encounter in my childhood served as the source for something I did later in life that had a profound influence on the lives of others. In this case, four veterans of World War II and an elderly woman who had lived in bitterness for years because of anger over losing her brother in the attack on Pearl Harbor. In both cases, a simple scene in one of my plays echoing that event in my childhood had the unexpected consequence of bringing these people profound peace and reconciliation.
I just posted this on my Conquering Depression blog so I wanted to share it with my reading followers.
My wife, at diverse times, is convinced I am crazy.
Okay, so maybe my behavior, at diverse times, is consistent with her conclusion. For instance, it was mid February. Sherry and I had just returned from a much needed break, a trip to Orlando to relax and have fun and visit our dear friends Mark and Donna Sutton. On a Wednesday afternoon, Mark and I spent several hours brainstorming a devotion book to accompany “Hope Again”. In a rather alarming revelation, Mark told me he had gone to have a check up the day before and his doctor wanted to keep him overnight for a cardiac treadmill. But, Mark told them he had to keep his appointment with me! Wait a minute, I said. You refused a treadmill because you might have heart problems so you could meet with me?
I’ve listened to singer/songwriter Eric Peters for years. My devotion to the Rabbit Room and the Square Peg Alliance came from my son. We started listening to the artists of the Square Peg Alliance years ago. And, when I discovered the Rabbit Room website and their devotion to not only music, but to classical Christian writers I was sold.
In 2010, Sean and I attended the first Hutchmoot gathering in Nashville. Eric Peters sang at that gathering. In 2012, Sean and I were fortunate enough to make the 90 second window during online registration and we made it back for Hutchmoot. During that gathering, I was shocked to hear Eric’s story during his “Recovery Through Song” breakout session. I had no idea about his struggle with depression. He was very open with that young adult audience about his depression. Afterwards, Sean and I sat under an outside tent for a personal concert by Eric. I was stunned and moved as Eric was brought to tears and almost speechless trying to share more about his battle with depression. I totally understood.
“The only thing worse than nostalgia is amnesia.” Ravi Zacharias, famed speaker and author once said this. For months, I felt like one of the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness. In an unprecedented turn of events, I had not been involved in any of my church’s activities for over a year. When my co-author, Mark Sutton was our pastor, my second “job” kept me occupied at our church. When he retired, it seemed I did too.
At first, I was very uncomfortable. My connection with the “inner circle” was severed. My knowledge of the direction of the church was no different than the person sitting next to me in the worship service. The very fact I was SITTING in a worship service instead of running around behind the scenes helping to make things happen was a disturbing but new development for me.
I was alone in the dark bedroom. I had pulled the sheet and blanket up over my head to shut out the world. I wanted no light; no sound; not even a speck of floating dust to touch me. I wanted to not BE.
Pain so bad it took my breath away filled every fiber of my being. Not physical pain. Emotional pain. And fear, yes there was fear. If I could just shut the world out for a few moments I might find some relief from this pain. Perhaps I could sleep? Probably not. Often elusive, sleep came for me with great difficulty and even if I did manage to slip into a sleeping state I knew it would not be restful. Because the dreams waited for me. Vivid, realistic, outlandish dreams. Read the rest of this entry