Greetings and salutations in this brand new calendar year! I have not been actively blogging for some time now dear friends, as I have been on medical leave for pastoral burnout and depression. Hell of a thing these two ugly monsters. Not only does one suffer through trying to squeeze those last drops of fuel out of one’s tank, and those last dregs at the bottom of the cup to keep on giving to others (which I found out in therapy does more harm than good); and not only does one try to hide that they are depressed and show up to work, or ministry, (or family) trying to mask the pain that you are really feeling every day to make everything seem like it is nice and normal like ( we wouldn’t want anyone to suspect that we are hurting, exhausted, and depressed, would we?…as if they couldn’t tell anyway) But there is also the problem of people all around you not understanding things like pastoral burnout and anxiety and depression.
My point in writing about all this is not, boo hoo, poor me. If that was the case, I would not have been working so hard to get well these past nearly 3 months now. I am writing about this, because in my wellness program I have discovered many truths about just how BIG a problem these things are already among church workers, and that the church really doesn’t have much of a clue about how to deal with it. I have also, in speaking to several certified therapists about the situation, have found that they suspect that the problem is going to get much worse in the future. Having seen many of the holes in how the church deals with these issues, and experienced them firsthand, I have no doubts that this is going to be true.
It has been said by a colleague, “If you had cancer, the people would be doing everything they could to get you well.” I would add to that from my own experience, “And not question you, your illness, or your treatment plan, or how long you might be out, or think that you are just faking all of this to get some extra time off, or whatever they are thinking.“
But I am also not simply writing this to rant about the problems I have experienced during this medical leave. I am writing because I am very thankful for all of the people, family, friends, colleagues, parishioners, and especially my doctor and therapist, who have been so wonderful and supportive to me.
So many people have never experienced burnout, or anxiety, or depression in their lives and don’t really know what that is like. And yet so many more are suffering from one or more of these things as I write this. Perhaps they are scared. Perhaps they are alone. Perhaps they are thinking that if anyone finds out they have so much to lose.
If anyone out there is experiencing any of these things right now and are scared and feel like you are alone in dealing with it. I assure you that you are not. There is plenty of help out there, and support for you. But many around you may not know that you need the help, or may be unsure what to do to help you.
For those of you who want to help, you can start by simply being supportive. LISTEN! That goes a long way. I was not listened to when I was crying out for help! Prayers definitely help. A smile or word of encouragement helps lift a person and bring them some light in an otherwise often dark day. Being angry and frustrated with them because you do not understand these things they are going through does NOT help them at all.
I would encourage you also, if you are suffering these things to seek guidance and counseling from professionals who are both certified and skilled at dealing with these things.
If you are hurting even deeper, or considering suicide, please contact the
Text CONNECT to 741741 in the United States.
A live, trained Crisis Counselor receives the text and lets you know that they are here to listen.
Crisis Text Line is free, 24/7 support for those in crisis, connecting people in crisis to trained Crisis Counselors. Our first priority is helping people move from a hot moment to a cool calm, guiding you to create a plan to stay safe and healthy. YOU = our priority.
Happy New Year! Please be kind and compassionate to one another in 2019 and always! God’s blessings and love to you all! I will be writing more now that I am in a better place physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
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