In yesterday’s blog I reviewed the tracks Tornado and Down for Love in a post which looked at the love found in friendship and the great power that exists in this bond between any number of souls. I reflected on the Gospel story of Zacchaeus who when he met the Lord Jesus changed his life and took hold of the second chance offered to him. In the blog I looked at how those who love us are always willing to go over and beyond what we could ask of them in searching for us. It also looked at how when we catch up with the one we love we tell them that love cannot be wasted. We are honest with the ones we love.
Today I have been listening to the song Get it Right and have chosen to give this track the subject of Hope. It is interesting that this should be the case when tonight’s post will be my most personal one to date as far as this review of Unfathomable Phantasmagoria goes. I hope that all who read this will do so with kindness and patience because my own experience of this song has been a difficult one to tell but it is one which I hope and pray will give a thorough picture of what this song means to me.
Get it Right – Hope
Get it Right is a rather remarkable song. On its face it is once more an upbeat and catchy song. However if we take time to listen to the lyrics we see that the story it tells is one which is a great deal more sombre and yes, even painful. We begin with the following lyrics which are themselves incredibly poignant:
“Thought I was okay, till you showed me I was wrong and so alone. Thought I was alright but to tell the truth I was almost too late.”
This is an incredibly honest way to begin this song as it speaks of Jahméne’s own struggles in the past and having that moment of knowing he needed help from another. As soon as I heard these words it reminded me of a similar experience of my own some years ago.
It began with a conversation. I had known something was not right for some time, however the more I worked at my two jobs the less I had to think about it. One night however it all came to a head. I had to tell a friend; I have absolutely no control over my emotions at the moment, and it frightens the life out of me. I drove home from Belfast in total silence to my parents shock (it was midweek and normally I would not return until the weekend). There is something amazing about our parents; they somehow know when something is wrong. No matter how much we may try to dodge their gaze and avoid their questions, no matter how much we may think we have outsmarted them, ultimately they know when something is wrong. So began our conversation. I told them of how I had been feeling lost and out of control for some time. I told them of how I could not keep my emotions in check. I told them of how useless I felt. Finally they asked the big question: “Do you think you’re maybe a bit depressed?” “Yes.” In my head I could see a pen scribbling on a page and the final words being written: Depression. I might as well just tie a bell around my neck and wear a sign saying “Weirdo”. Surely this is not normal.
After visiting the doctor I agreed that I did not want to go on any sort of medication because what I was currently feeling was a new development so perhaps it will go away either of its own accord or by my own work. Or perhaps, just perhaps, this God I believe in and who I have served for much of my life will intervene in some way, send me a sign of what I need to change in my life and mend my broken heart. Lots of people receive miracles so why shouldn’t I? The more I began to address my depression through various courses of therapy and my own reflection the more I began to question my own faith. Some say that depression is a silent illness, when in my reality it was anything but silent. Imagine for a moment one person in your life who you love with all your heart. You would do anything for this person if they asked you. This is the person that lights you up and makes you feel alive. You wake up in the morning and the first thing you think of is them. Then imagine you wake up one morning and feel nothing for that person. You still remember what you felt for them previously but you don’t know how to feel that for them now. These were the realities I began to experience in relation to my faith. I have come to understand this as my own dark night of the soul.
How do we as Christians encounter and dare I say it even embrace personal depression? I have always been told to give thanks for all things and when trials come our way to offer them up to God. In theory this is a wonderful proposal however I can’t imagine this would be terribly helpful to someone who is in the throes of depression. It would be akin to suggesting that they; “just think happy thoughts.” In my case, my experience of depression completely altered my perception of the world. There was so much pain, suffering and bitterness that I no longer understood it. I harbour no resentment or hatred in my heart for anyone and I could not comprehend how others do. I looked at the world around me and could only see anguish. It was a place where I did not belong and did not desire to. Why bother? What’s the point of it all? Inevitably this led to dangerous, dark thoughts which ultimately gave way to hopelessness. In this hopelessness I experienced perhaps my darkest moments which involved scenarios playing out in my head in which I would take my own life. This normally happened when I was driving alone…or going home…alone. Would anyone even care? Would anyone even notice? God stepped in…
I had been attending therapy for the best part of the year by this stage and found myself talking more to those around me. I don’t believe it was altogether healthy because the conversations I began to engage in were ones in which I ended up getting immensely angry because to me the other person simply couldn’t connect with me and just didn’t get what I was feeling. I have known and loved people who are labouring with dementia and I know of the frustration they experience when they are aware of what is happening to them. I believe my own frustration was a bit like that. One night however I was out with my siblings and drank a shocking quantity of wine. I walked off and wanted to be on my own. My twin sister found me and we began to talk. She asked me what was going on and wanted to know how I was. She wanted to connect and understand. Looking back I think if she could have she would have taken my burden onto herself. Finally I decided to let her have her explanation; I told her of my dark thoughts and that I did not trust her or anyone else for that matter. I expressed this in a totally manner of fact way and went home. In the following days I saw the amount of pain I had caused her which caused me to stop and reflect. She should have hated me for what I had done to her but she didn’t seem to. What was I thinking? Of course I trust her. Of course I trust my family members. Why didn’t she hate me? The simple truth is that my sister is much stronger than I am. She was able to bear it but it still nearly destroyed me knowing that I had caused this pain. What good could come of this? Where was God?
In this experience God revealed something of himself to me and of his love for each of us, myself included. He worked through my beloved twin sister. God wanted me to talk to him, to connect and to understand. God would gladly take the burden I was labouring under. I can let him have it and shout out all my anger and hurts and He can take it. I have caused Him pain and he should destroy me for that, and yet here I remain. He is stronger than I am and is able to bear it. Good can come from this.
I live with depression to this day. There are still days where I get up and I feel lost. There are days where I experience amazing highs and wonderful thoughts. My heart is a restless one and I embrace that. However I have hope now. In the days in which I feel lost and frightened I somehow manage to remind myself that this too shall pass. I will have a better day, and compared to this bad day, the good day will be utter bliss. The pain will ease, and the sun will rise again. So many in our society have apparently lost hope and we have a responsibility to give it to them. They deserve to have something to hope for. Someone once told me, “Your next breath depends on God.” I like to remember that, and reflect on that. If you’re reading this…then you are still here…the depression is terribly limiting, but the love of God is limitless. You are loved beyond belief. I know there are times when it seems like all is lost but even in those times someone is there loving you. God speaks to each of us through others and He may even speak to someone through you. Your life has purpose. Please talk to someone if you are struggling to find that purpose. You are still here.
I’m sorry if the telling of my own story has eclipsed today’s post a bit however I feel for those readers who are following this blog that they have a right to know why Jahméne Douglas’ album Unfathomable Phantasmagoria means so much to me. I feel we have reached a stage of transparency and can be honest about why I feel such affinity to the artist. Just listen to the words of Jahméne’s song Get it Right and you will hear a story that is indeed filled with pain, but is ultimately filled with hope. It is a song worth listening to and reflecting on. It has reminded me of my own story which is one I continue to struggle with to this day but is one which is ultimately filled with…Hope. Today for instance I have been feeling down, simply because I wonder what the future holds and if I am to continue walking this path alone…but I still have Hope. And do you know what? When I listen to the words of Jahméne it reminds me that he has been here too, and he continues to give me, yep you guessed it, Hope. You can too.
Tomorrow we will move into the next part of the album which begins with the scripture from Galatians and moves into the song Is This The Time? It is my view that as we move through this relationship together we have reached a stage where we can be completely honest with ourselves and with each other and this will be reflected on tomorrow’s post. In the meantime here’s a wee snap of my and one of my nephews at tonight’s family Halloween party! A lone wolf!