Mental Health Awareness Week can easily be written off as one more token cause that, yes, we all should pay attention to, but probably don’t. I am one who deals with clinical depression, and I still haven’t paid much attenion to it, truth be told.
But I’m graeful this year for the reminder. I need to do what I can to make sure I’m OK. And that isn’t easy lately. My work as a pastor can become all-consuming, what with the constant demands, criticisms, problems, disagreements, and frustrations. I am privileged to have a job that calls me to see something better for our world, but that also forces me to live in the brokenness of our reality. Living in the gap between the two is exhausting.
Then there are hurricanes. Three of them in the US in the last few weeks. The devastation is inconceivable. The suffering and despair is beyond my ability to imagine. I listen to the stories, the outcries, the frustration, and the hope and find myself becoming numb. It’s not that I’m apathetic, it’s that it’s exhausting. The fact that I don’t live in an “affected” area yet still am dragging adds a tinge of guilt to the mix. Which is even more exhaustting.
I woke up today to the news of the horror in Las Vegas overnight. Almost 60 dead, over 500 injured. Not including ongoing trauma that will be experienced by many thousands more for years to come. The ideolgogues are at work on every side of the “gun” issue, with very few people willing to listen to anyone else. Guns should be banned altogether (why don’t those politicians develop a spine and do something?!), guns are not the problem at all (why don’t those politicians quit politicizing tragedy?!), and everything in between. Not having the luxury of avoiding these issues, I am exhausted by trying to be rational, reasonable, and finding a way through the ideologies all around. That is exhausting.
I’m an Enneagram 5, which means among other things that I am greedy with (in my case) my time. I need time to recover, to process, to introspect, to be alone. When I’m feeling pulled to constantly address injustice, speak clearly for peace, listen well to those who are adamantly opposed to my very reasonable perspective, and hold fast to positions of integrity that seem to invoke the ire of friends and foes alike, it’s exhausting. It feels like this will not end. I’ll be beating my head against a wall forever without making any difference. Yet, I am obliged to not let up. Too much is at stake.
Not that my voice is the one that must be heard if there is to be peace. But for my own sense of integrity I have to continue to speak, to write, to proclaim, to listen. Integrity sucks. Because it’s exhausting.
So Mental Health Awareness Week gives me a little more perspective this year. I’ll likely be a bit out of balance for a while, but I’ll lean a bit more heavily on those who love me. I’ll make sure to watch carefully for signs of encroaching depression and take necessary steps. Now more than ever. I’m exhausted, but grace abounds. In the midst of exhaustion, that matters.