Being in a place of despair is pretty common place but it seems to be swept under the carpet by most individuals.
Even as Christians, so many of us experience depression and worse, yet to suggest you are suffering such a thing is almost heresy - you clearly are not close enough to God, or you are doing something wrong. Clearly you just need to see the good side of things - usually spoken from those who have not ever experienced such things, and cannot relate and therefore throw their narrow opinion at your situation.
Sometimes, we don’t do anything wrong. The situation around us changes without our ability to control the outcomes for the better.
The hypocrisy of modern counselling
I, as many have over the years, seen counsellors for assistance in the various struggles of life. Every-time you see a new counsellor, you give them your life story so they can pull it apart and try to understand you more. They lead you into a false sense that they are your friend so you can open up more.
Australia being the lucky and rich place it is on a world scale, is not a cheap place to live. You might earn allot, but it gets taken away pretty quickly in excessive taxes, bills, the most expensive food and utilities in the world. Even on an average income the government still hands you family tax benefits as their statistics show you are living below the minimum standard.
As such, you run out of money without careful fiscal management - $60 an hour several hours a week long term for counselling is not cheap, especially when you are the sole bread winner.
The weeks go on and before you know it its been 6 months later. And then you realize they have not even bothered to check in how you are, even though they seemed to know your struggles and were concerned.
There is no actual follow up care as an actual friend would do, its just their job at the end of the day. Within time, they will almost have completely forgotten you, and as such, myself and others I know choose not to lean on counselling for help.
The things that myself and several guys I know and have known over the years, have experienced with our families, kids with special needs and wives suffering depression, compounded with the sometimes over expectation of work, family, friends and other commitments have pushed us to the limits.
I will not share any stories from past and present friends who have been to such a dark place but I can share mine, whilst I have not gone to the extend of getting right to the end, the thoughts have been entertained in those dark helpless moments.
Us men, those who just want to work in a job they like at least to some degree, have a loving wife and raise our kids in the best manner and to give them all the very best, sometimes get treated as a punching bag by everything around us. You might be reading this and not ever experienced anything bad, and that's fine, I am happy you were not unfortunate enough to have been in such a place.
Life chips away at you
With all our 3 kids, my wife experienced post natal depression which not only affected her but also those close to her. One day I told her she needed to seek help, and as a reaction, proceeded to kick and punch me as she got angry I could suggest that, and went to drive away. I ran out to the car to quickly disable it, as there is no way I could let her drive in this frame of mind - I opened the bonnet and pulled the ignition leads out so it would not start. Phew. So she walked off to the local park with our newborn instead.
Then there was the expectation of work. Obviously, I had to be on time at the start of my shift but I was regularly late as I would do my best to help my family get started for the day. On low sleep I would get up earlier so she could sleep in - she had been up all night with restless kids and feeding, I would prepare all the lunches, get the kids ready for the day, get her breakfast ready and do any small tasks I could. Being regularly late took its toll and even though I would make up the time, the statistics showed I was late - red marks and no pay rise at review time.
This may sound like nothing, but after years of this wearing at you, you suddenly realize you have no time for anything you enjoy. Family and work get all your energy. People around you judge you as you seem withdrawn and unwilling to do as they expect.
It gets harder to see friends, childless and unmarried friends seem to take it personally after a while as they cannot relate. The end result feels like hopelessness. No vision for the future, its all just giving to a standard that will never be enough. You become mentally run down over time and get to the point where you have nothing to give. Your wife gets cranky more often because you seem to become withdrawn and unhappy, and while I have not experienced it, some of my friends were unfortunate to have their wives cheat on them for such things.
Life is not easy. But all of the challenges of life reinforce one thing to me - Gods love.
I could choose to go down a dark path but one thing that happened when I was at the crossroads was I saw all of man through Gods eyes and experienced the feelings, it was more than just reading about it and it made me weep for a long time. I felt God and I could relate to each other.
We deserve nothing yet he gave us everything.
I recalled how the church is Christ’s bride, and how the church treats Christ from time to time.
I then realized marriage between a man and woman is modeled after Christ and his bride. Christs selfless love for his bride and I could model many actions and behaviors after this.
His grace is essentially giving us love when we don’t deserve it. Sure those around me may not deserve my love but I can enact Gods principles to be gracious to all and win against the darkness.
Michael Dahlenburg is an electronics technician. He is non-denominational and has previously been involved in church plants and assisting those in ministry. His interests include; enjoying family, home DIY, gardening, most things tech-related and driving his wife crazy with a constant stream of inventions! He lives with his wife Michelle and three children in God’s own land of Southern Adelaide, Australia.Michael Dahlenburg’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/michael-dahlenburg.html