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

  • Charlie Clayton

Its all the rage

I used to have a favourite phrase. Ill share it with you.

'For f**ks sake, f**k off'

Probably not the phrase you expected, that should be banded around that often or I should really admit to using.

But this was the phrase that stirred in me for probably the best part of 20 years.

It never came out of my mouth, well, rarely and certainly not when anyone else was around, but it was a phrase that suitably described the anger I felt inside when things weren't going as planned.

Now this phrase didn't need to be the culmination of a big argument or an ongoing frustrating circumstance. No this phrase could rise up at any time. Drop the milk when I just needed to have my breakfast (dropping things and being clumsy is a sign of anxiety too). It could be a DIY project that I needed to get done and wasn't going the way I planned. It could be the fact that someone had the audacity to ring me at the wrong time (there was rarely a right time), it could be a child wanting my attention when I just wanted to zone out. It could be that I had to go to work that day. It could be that I had to meet someone. It could be simply that life was too much that day. This was a phrase that could appear anytime, anywhere and for the most simplest of reasons.

It was the phrase that went straight to the heart of my anger, by-passing all relevant emotional restraints on the way there.

It was this shocking discovery of my internal recurring mantra that really helped to direct me towards some of the more volatile parts of my emotions. The ones that had felt aggrieved, misunderstood or overridden completely. It was an overly developed mechanism to keep people away - well, it would have been but I had developed such a perfect presentation of myself that it wouldn't have been appropriate for it to come out! So I had to develop coping mechanisms to cope with this coping mechanism that enabled me to pretend I was ok! (Exhausting just reading that! Try living with it!)

In the more recent months of my journey with anxiety and depression, further self examination would reveal the deep-down rage churning inside of me that I didn't want to acknowledge, and was probably too scared to deal with. For me, it was this rage that was at the core of all my mechanisms for coping with life, and which somebody much more learned about these things told me that the actual emotion behind rage is fear.

And just like anyone who has developed significant internal fears, the coping mechanism is to push away, react to and rebuff anyone who comes close to producing the same factors that your fear is trying to avoid. Unfortunately I had got so used to this internal protective measure I could no longer see this.

But after a difficult moment in our marriage (Abby having enough) and some intensive work on what was going on inside, I can genuinely say that this cyclical rage is largely behind me, and by connecting with and acknowledging my fears alongside making the choice to be vulnerable in trusted hands, my life has started to become a lot clearer, more emotions are being able to be shared and the recurring phase has stopped. (Almost!)

I am genuinely amazed how working on the internal parts of me can cause such a change in how I feel and the impact it has on those around me. I still don't understand how talking about this makes a difference - but somehow it just does (I am sure there are people out there with PHD's who can tell you why it works)

What is wonderful is that during the last 7 months Abby has experienced a husband genuinely free from some of the behaviours that bound him, and we are on the journey of meeting some of the sadness as we recognise together that for the best part of 9 years, she has only had a glimmer of me to connect with.

So, in the same way we have found some hope that is beginning to build momentum, it is our hope too that through these blogs, conversations and interactions that some of this may be helpful in your own journey and save some of the time, pain and brokenness that we have experienced along the way.

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