At the risk of sounding self-centered, I’m going to let you, My Gentle Readers, into another corner of my personal life.  There’s a commercial on television that says, “Depression hurts.”  I can testify just as sincerely that “Hurts depress.”

There is a definite (though not completely understood) relationship between the workings of emotion and intellect with the physical body.  In my case, I have a hormone imbalance that predisposed my mind to depressive and even suicidal thoughts.  In searching for the root of that imbalance, doctors have discovered that I have Graves Disease, which in itself disposes my mind to depressive thoughts, even while it acts on the thyroid to cause anxiety (or, in some cases, mania).  Now I have a herniated disk in my lower back, pinching a nerve and interfering with virtually all physical activity.  It also interferes with my sleeping and contributes to a depressive predisposition.

I cannot meet my home or church obligations, and my inability to work leaves me with ethical considerations regarding my unemployment benefits.  My wife had signed us up for a cruise to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary, which could be less than optimal if I have to attend on crutches or in a wheelchair (and we didn’t purchase the insurance, so we can’t cancel or reschedule without losing beaucoup bucks).

When Darlene gets home from work, I have little or nothing to talk about, because my day has centered around my pain and little else.  This leaves the burden of conversation (as well as my chores) on her, at a time when her work situation is hectic and almost oppressive, and she could benefit from being able to put her own aches and pains aside.  Tomorrow is a “respite day” for us, but we have relatively few options for getting away for some “us” time.  The church has graciously stepped in to provide some meals because she is so busy and I am unable to stand long enough to prepare dinner.

I am not looking for pity.  Many people in my support group have far more serious problems than I have.  There are medications to take the edge off the pain and to reduce the swelling while I await the next step.  I have a loving and understanding wife, and 3 children and grandchildren who are all involved and concerned.  My church family is helping to carry the burden.  I am truly blessed.

But next time you hear that mental illness is all in somebody’s head, don’t you believe it.  It pollutes the soul and contaminates the body.  It dominates the mind as well as the physical aspects of life.  My intellect may tell me that happiness is a choice, but my body laughs at that assertion.

Gentle Reader, if you have gotten this far, please stay with me for one more minute, for there IS a positive side to all this.  For there is more to me than body and soul; there is also spirit.  And while happiness may or may not be a choice, the fact is that faith is a gift from God.  I have the spiritual foundation of Jesus Christ, Who never changes.  I have the guarantee of full recovery in a land where the body will be glorified and my soul will know all things.  God’s love for me and caring for me never waver, even when I crash at the corner of Body and Soul.

I have a request for you today.  If your time and energy are limited, please don’t pray for me; I have lots of brothers and sisters praying for me.  Rather, think of someone else in your family, your church, your circle of acquaintances, who suffers from mental illness; and ask God to guide them through their mental morass and their physical minefield.  Ask that they may find a listening ear, and an appropriate medical treatment.

And pray that the Lord will protect you and the rest of your family from this accident of life that could be waiting just around the corner.