January 13, 2017 by Nicole
So I am admittedly not the best person about remembering to stay current on my blog, but I decided that perhaps it is time to try again. :). In the last week, I have been inspired to try to utilize my blog as one way of getting back to some semblance of a daily devotional tool, and trying to grow closer to God.
I may not have shared this before in my journaling, but I am one of millions of people who struggles with depression. The hard thing about this illness is that there are times that it fools you into thinking you are all better, and then BAM! It comes roaring back with a vengeance and shoots you straight back down into the ravine as dark as death. Add to that the attempts to maintain a close relationship with God, and you will find that depression is exceedingly good at putting you behind something akin to a two-way mirrored box. God can look in and see you, but you can’t look out and see God.
Let me start by saying that I was doing well up until May 8, 2016. I had been doing pretty okay at the new mom thing for a little over a year by then. And then I felt like the rug got yanked out from under me when my big, beautiful yellow Lab, Rufus, experienced kidney failure due to complications from Lyme disease and had to be put to sleep. It was most heart breaking because while I had just mourned the passing of one of my other dogs 2014, it was much easier to accept because of the timing of it all. God had put her into my life just as the years of hardship that were about to follow began. She helped me make it through a lot of hardship, and then, at the ripe old age of 15-16 years old, she finished the job for which God had lent her to me. The burdens on my life had eased significantly, my marriage was in a great place, and I was three months pregnant with my daughter. As a result, letting go was very sad, but also much easier to accept and therefore much easier to move on given the fact that I had enjoyed a very special bond with her and had given her a good, loving home.
And then, without any warning, Rufus got very sick and my husband and I had to make the decision that no dog owner ever wants to make. Now, my relationship with Rufus was sort of complicated; he was boisterous to the point of being obnoxious at times, and he felt entitled to being the center of attention–regardless how he managed to get that attention. Yes, he drove us a little (or a lot) batty at times, but in spite of all of that, I loved that dog and he had a big piece of my heart. When he left our family, I fell apart to the extent that functioning on a daily basis felt damn near impossible. Even small things, like taking a shower on a regular basis or remembering to eat required herculean effort, and for a long time, all I wanted to do was sleep.
This was further compounded by the fact that our last dog, a 15 year old lab mix, has been suffering from arthritis and serious dementia and mental illness for the last two years. She has never been a real “snugly” dog, but in spite of her tendencies toward being more of a loaner, she always had a way of showing affection that let you know she loved you. At some point in the last three years when she entered this phase in her life, that dog started to succumb to the issues that can accompany senior doggiehood. Caring for a senior dog with her particular issues, as well as her loss of housebreaking habits and increased anxiety and withdrawal from the world is not easy. It’s likewise exremely hard to deal with the guilt that comes about from trying to remember that the problems that she has are not her fault, because she hasn’t been in her right mind for a few years now…after cleaning up poop on the kitchen floor or changing soiled bedding for the second or sometimes third time in the same day. It’s the guilt that comes from being angry or resentful that you have to continue to deal with these issues and cannot enjoy having a dog, but knowing that you made the commitment to care for her in the bad times too. You do it because you love your dog, and at the same time, struggle with wishing that you could move on, knowing that when the time comes, your heart will ache for that loss too.
So what does any of this have to do with where I am now? Well, let me first say that I am not angry at God over the loss of my dogs. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blest be the Name of the Lord. What I am right now is sinking in darkness. Walking in a storm. And very, very, alone. In my life, God has given me dogs to help stabilize me and cope with my illness. I once mentioned that dogs, at least in my case, have some sort of profound ability to go places and connect with the hurts and darkness that my depression brings in a way that people–even those whom I love and trust deeply–have not been able to.
Perhaps this is a test. Maybe it’s a road that God wants me to go down as part of where I am headed in this life’s journey. i don’t know. What I do know is that right now, when I cry out and ask for help, there is nothing; the silence is unnerrving. It feels like I’ve been abandoned. It is staring to take a toll on and wear at the very foundations of the relationship I thought I had with God. And it’s intensely, insanely, and utterly frightening to feel so cut off from Him all the time. And, I am fighting to find the way back, fumbling around in the dark, wondering everyday when the clouds are going to break just enough to catch a peek at the sun, if only for a moment.