Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Reaching Out

So, um.

I made an appointment with the counselor at seminary today.

I've not been liking the way I've been feeling lately. Moments...hours...a whole day or so... feeling suspiciously like I'm depressed.

I'm not sure I am depressed, but I sure as hell don't want to be. Been there, almost didn't survive it. I am not doing that again. Hence the appointment.

Some of the symptoms: wanting to sleep more; less interest in food (CoolPastor might find that one hard to believe since I nearly fainted at the deliciousness of the biscuits and gravy Monday night, but it's generally true); withdrawing at and from social situations; less interest in/motivation for schoolwork; mental fatigue; irritability; feeling close to tears a little more often than quite seems reasonable; and, the big one, anxiety.

The anxiety skyrocketed when I started working for HappyChurch. I have very clear that it's my own shit that's dragging me down. HappyChurch has done nothing -- nothing -- to create, cause, or in any way exacerbate my anxiety. Not the crying kid. Not the little old lady who wanted to walk out. Seriously. In fact, the deft and healthy way the church council has handled that last situation should actually make me feel better. The church has done nothing but give me positive feedback and encouraged me to continue "doing what I'm doing."

And yet...I feel more and more anxious. Part of it is my own insecurity -- wondering if I really deserve all that praise, wondering if they're just being nice, wondering how long it will be until I really screw up. Feeling like somehow I'm not doing enough, even though all they essentially asked me to do was "do" worship and preach, and provide some leadership as they begin to think about outreach, all of which I've done. The perfectionism...the slightly sick need to have the Best. Sermon. Ever. Every single week.

Now, to add to it, a beloved old church member is about to die, and I feel pretty much incompetent. They of course wish their pastor were here, and he's not. I visited yesterday and felt so...useless. Crank up the anxiety.

Now, add to that my old woundedness about church, which I wrote about a little bit here. Makes it even harder to believe their sincerity and kindness...I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Just waiting. Because I'm convinced it will. I'm suspicious all the time. I find it very hard to believe that 1) they are actually as healthy a church as they appear; and B) that they actually like me at all.

Pardon my bluntness...but this is no fucking way to live. As I have been watching myself these last few weeks I can see that anxiety just gnawing away at the strong, confident foundation I'd been creating for myself (and being thrilled at discovering) at seminary. This has got to stop.

To be fair to myself, it's been a rough year in the sense of lots going on at school and on my insides as well. So much to process and so little time, as a student leader, a conscientious student with a heavy class load (who had an "issue" with a prof that is still somewhat unresolved), and then starting as a pastor at the end of April. I think also the fact that the heavy-duty ass-kicking that happened in the antisemitism class coupled with the uptick in anxiety as I started at HappyChurch was not entirely a helpful combination.

I don't blame my favorite prof, who taught the class, though. I would do it all over again for all that I learned and the way it made me think about my own theology and how I want to be in the world. I think, in fact, that being forced to preach a good word on Sundays while struggling with antisemitism in the history of the church was a real growing edge for me, and I'm thankful for it, even though the wrestling was very, very rough.

So. Am I depressed? I'm not sure. I may just be wiped out emotionally and intellectually. I may just need to rest and give my brain a break and spend time just opening up my heart. Letting my heart break open fully, without trying to hold it together "just until...". Just letting it go.

Life's not all bad, which is what makes me suspect I may just be exhausted. I remember from depression before that there was this constant sort of "veiled" feeling when I did things I usually enjoyed -- a cloudy, foggy sort of feeling that coated everything with waxy sadness. I have moments of that but it's not at all constant. I still love being with my close friends, being with my cielo, enjoying a walk or a movie. For example, my cielo and I went to the botanical gardens on Monday (yay for free days!) and I loved every minute of it. Even just being able to write about this here is a sign that mostly I must be ok.

But the symptoms are enough to be troubling, particularly the anxiety. So, off to the seminary counselor with me, to nip this thing in the bud.

I'm thankful for my cielo. I'm thankful for my friends. I'm thankful for my life. I'm thankful the seminary offers free counseling!

And, I'm thankful for all of you.

7 comments:

  1. Towanda, I am SO VERY THANKFUL for you. I don't know how we 'fell' into our friendship, but I am grateful to have you. I wish for you peace, peace, peace. (((towanda)))

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  2. And all of us are thankful for you. Sounds like exhaustion to me, but I'm very glad you have made the appointment with the counsellor.
    I love your honesty in sharing this, send you prayers and wish you lots of wellness.

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  3. I'm thankful for your presence in my life.
    I celebrate that you keep choosing life,
    I celebrate that you are reaching out for support,
    and over all I am thankful and I celebrate that you are loving and taking care of yourself.

    Al andar se hace el camino y al volver la vista atras, se ve la senda que nunca se ha de volver a pisar...

    Your cielo

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  4. ((((((Towanda))))))

    I understand very well this feeling of wondering what will happen when they find out who I *really* am: fake, poser, fraud, dopey, selfish, lazy....you fill in the blank.

    You are an incredibly gifted individual whom God has called to this crazy, upside-down life we call the pastoral ministry. You will get through this, but I am glad that you have sought out help. Get some good sleep this weekend.

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  5. Thanks, all of you, for your support. It truly helps, and I mean that.

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  6. chant your name TOWANDA over and over and over everytime the obsessive thoughts come in.

    Of course you deserve the praise, but you know it's not about that...so if it's not about success and praise, it's also not about failure and criticism. It's about doing it. You have been called to transition this church, you, with all your gifts, challenges, wisdom, insecurity, all of you. Hold in integrity and let the Spirit guide you.

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