Honest reflections about marriage and mission work when dealing with the anxiety and depression

  • Charlie Clayton


The only times I could ever escape the feeling of anxiety and depression were:

1. Drinking too much

Not to get wasted. But just enough to lose the anxiety and access my emotions. There was a fine line! Too much and emotions would come flooding out, too little and I just end up feeling a bit groggy the next day without actually feeling like I had escaped.

2. Working all the time

Can't think about my anxieties if I am constantly busy. So I would go to work early and come home late. And skip lunch in the middle. The roles that I chose had high levels of control over my environment and the environment around me. And there was lots of change to keep my mind occupied.

3. Losing myself in a film

Often accompanied by overeating and drinking but again a good (often sad) film would enable me to bypass my anxieties and access emotions.

4. Worship and Prayer

The safest place I would find would be in the prayer room. I love the prayer room. Firstly as you will be left alone! No-one would disturb you when in the prayer room. Secondly the only person / being that I felt safe with was God. Everyone else had the potential to damage me or add to my anxieties. But not God. My personal relationship with him is hugely private as I don't want anyone else ruining it! (having to unlearn this in marriage but that's for another time)

5. Preaching

I have been given lots of opportunities to share the bible. It has always been a privilege and one I have loved. Although I may get some nerves, speaking about Gods word and the impact he has on lives has always seemed to bypass my anxieties and depression. When up and speaking it is like I am someone else. Not sure why this happens, but I think it is mostly because he has been my lifeline all these years and know he can be for others too. (I don't think preaching should be taken lightly and when I knew I was struggling too much or my escape mechanisms were causing obvious damage, I would step away from public speaking until I felt my life better aligned with what I saying.)

6. Sleep

The best feeling in the world. No disturbances. Nothing to think about. You can finally rest your mind and body for a fixed period of time before it all begins again. There is not a feeling to describe shutting the bedroom door, with the world locked away, knowing you can relax.

(I wonder whether a contributing factor the increase of anxiety and depression coincides with connectivity through our devices and the lack of escape now a days even within our bedrooms)

So a relatively perfect day to manage my anxieties would be to Get up. Go to work. Come home. Ignore everyone. Open wine. Watch Film. Go to Bed.

Of course much easier when single that when married with or without children! But that's for another time.

So if you relate to the above or it describes someone you know then it just may be that you / they are just trying to cope. There are 2 or 3 in the list above that everyone can see might be damaging over time, but all of them can cause damage if they are in replacement of relationship with others. I wonder how many church leaders are experiencing the above but it is hidden behind the 'church work'. No matter what it looks like, it might be time to explore what is going on underneath.

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