Here's the second half of my story of burnout.
December 2009. Summer holidays have begun, and I'm jogging. Pounding the beach, praying, tears streaming down my face. I never jog, but I run to escape the weight I'm carrying. I feel like a soldier training with a weighted pack - only in my pack is the despondency I can't shake, heavier than ever now the year's busyness has ended.
Early January, 2010. The summer holidays drag on, and I keep despondency at bay by taking the kids on outings and decluttering the house; but it's there, like a black pit, the moment I stop moving. I'm tired of this. I feel so weak, so useless. Why can't I do it all like other women? Why am I not strong enough?
January, 2010. I write in my journal, "I hate feeling like this. I won't deny it. I'd love to feel strong again - to feel joyous and energised and engaged. But it's when these things are taken away - the pride, the enthusiasm, the self-reliance - when all that is left is God and me, and I am weak and wrung out, like a floppy dishrag that's been used one too many times - that I realise my smallness and my need."
Late January, 2010. Steve gives me a day off, and I go to a local park and sit in my favourite cafe. All the discouragement and fear and self-doubt pour out in pages and pages of unreadable black scrawl. And then I pick up my Bible and read, "'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'" (2 Cor 12:9). I'm not strong, I'm weak: but God's treasure is in this jar of clay (2 Cor 4:7).
February, 2010. My feelings don't change until I talk to my friend, who has far more experience of depression than I do. She speaks 9 simple words: "You will feel excited about things again one day." Oddly, that's all I need to hear. It seems that just a whisper of hope is enough. I'm still uncertain of what I'm feeling, but from this point on, I'm no longer drowning.
March 2010. It's not easy to learn to learn to live without an idol; but I'm starting to realise that God's grace is here, waiting, on the other side. I write, "When depression is a reaction to loss, it has stages and an end. You have to let it run its course and have the courage to face the things it throws up at you."
God's grace meets me in the place where dreams die. His severe mercy has brought me to the end of myself, driving me to repentance and into the heart of his grace. Here, what I do doesn't give me meaning, only what he does for me.
image is by Jim Blob Blann from flickr