I am the Bug

He told the story toward the end of Stake Conference. “One afternoon I went out and got in my car, and there was this big bug on the windshield. I didn’t want to make a mess with the wipers, so I decided to just start driving and see how long it took for it to be pushed off.

“I got onto the street, and that bug hung on. I went from the street to the highway, and it still hung on. I was starting to have some respect for that little bug. I got up to 55 miles per hour, and he was still hanging on – though he was kind of slowly shifting around. He got his head down and is back end up, so he was more aerodynamic.

“I got out onto the expressway and kept speeding up, finally up to 75 miles per hour. That bug was still hanging on.

“It suddenly occurred to me, that maybe he didn’t know what else to do. And I felt the Spirit tell me, ‘Slow down, and let the bug go.’ I thought that was weird. But it came again, “Slow down, and let him go.”

“So I pulled off to the side, and when I had slowed way down, the bug finally let go, and flew off.

“Some people are like that. Hanging on because they just don’t know what else to do, hoping for someone to rescue them, and they are TIRED.” He went on to make a point about helping others.

All I could think, with tears streaming down my face, is “I am the bug”. Hanging on for dear life, so tired I wonder sometimes if I can make it to the next day, just wishing things would slow down, that just ONE THING would get better, that something would change to give me hope. That somehow, a miracle would occur to make the whole unmanageable mess, somehow, manageable.

This is not about having a pity party. This is about depression. This is what it feels like to have depression. It may also be described as feeling like you are in a tunnel. Like all the color has gone out of the world. Like the laughter has somehow taken a vacation. Like all the effort to make things change for the better just does not help, and there just isn’t enough of you to keep up anymore. Like somehow the rules of life that used to apply, and seem to apply for everyone else just don’t apply to you anymore. Like God loves you, and COULD fix it, but you know He probably won’t. Life just hurts, and feels so heavy. Sometimes it hurts so much you don’t know how you can bear it for one more day.

From the outside it does not look like this. From the outside it looks like this person just grumbles a lot more than they used to. It looks like they have a bad attitude, and they may be more impatient and more angry. It looks like they are lazy and just not making an effort to help themselves. It looks like they’ve become more selfish. It looks like they do not appreciate your encouragement and good advice.

If you identify with either side of this – if you feel like you are the bug, then it is likely that depression is having an effect on you, or if you know someone who just doesn’t seem to be coping in the way you remember them doing, it is likely that they are under the weight of serious depression.

Now, we aren’t talking about “gee, I feel down today” when you have a crying jag due to PMS or something else. We are talking about something that goes on for more than a few months – almost when the person cannot remember the last time they had a good day, or a time when they had more good days than bad days. They feel like they’ve gone in and just can’t get back out. And it feels like it is their fault.

There are two types of depression – Situational, and Clinical. Situational is depression caused by a specific situation – loss, change, relationship problems, etc. Counseling, exercise, activities, and other strategies may help a lot with situational depression. Clinical depression is caused by changes in the chemistry or hormones in the body, and no matter how many “good things” you do to “fix it”, it simply may not respond with enough impact to pull out of the depression. Medication may be helpful with clinical depression, as may diet changes. Sunlight, and working in the dirt (seriously! bacteria in the dirt has a specific mood enhancing effect on the brain) may help either type of depression, but it may or may not be enough to turn things around.

It usually takes something outside themselves to break the pattern. Medication may be PART of the solution, but is rarely the whole thing. In some instances, medication makes little difference – it simply may not be appropriate for some individuals. Herbs may help – St. John’s Wort can help (though it will make you sensitive to the sun), and so can Borage Oil, or Lemon Balm. In either case, you can’t just tell someone with depression what to do to help themselves – they literally may not have the strength to make an appointment to get help, or go to the grocery store to get Borage Oil.

If you have a friend who seems to have depression, don’t try to tell them how to “fix” it. Ask them to go somewhere with you. Be patient if they say no, and ask again. Don’t be surprised if you ask what you can do, and they don’t know – be specific when asking them if they want you to help them with something. Bring them dinner now and again, and bring enough that they have leftovers. Let them know you care. And be patient with their discouraging mood. This is how they feel right now. It isn’t fun, and it isn’t nice to be around sometimes, but if you are patient, they have more hope of pulling out of it. Hugs help. Love helps. Not judging them helps. Helping them see the good in THEM helps.

Certainly, if you feel like hurting yourself, or someone else, you need to tell someone. And if your friend or family member expresses that kind of feeling, you need to call a Mental Health Crisis Center and ask what to do. Because someone may feel so much pain that they really can’t stand it any longer.

Depression can sneak up on anyone. No one is immune. In fact, most people will experience at least one serious depressive episode in their life, when it is the support and kindness of others that allows them to feel the love of the Lord enough to keep going. It is part of the opposition in life that allows us to recognize joy because of pain, and good because of bad. And it is one of our greatest opportunities to be the recipients of Christlike love from those around us, if they but choose to give it.

If we are on the outside looking in, this is a chance to BE the hands of Jesus Christ. To give true charity – “the pure love of Christ”. You may not be able to slow down the car and let them off. But you can cover their hands with yours, and “lift up the hands that hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees”.

Today, I am the bug. Tomorrow, you might be. Together, we are all strong enough to hang on.

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