Life does have its ups and downs but sometimes the downs are a whole lot deeper and harder to get out of. Pastors are expected to be perfect at times and that expectation makes it harder to handle. I know that we, as pastors, are not perfect. We have our faults. I happen to have a brain injury from many years ago which is still causing me problems, but I haven’t told anyone about it other than my family. Why? Because it is one of those things which people think is just a story or an excuse. There is no outward appearance of injury and it doesn’t show up very often but when it does, it can be shocking to anyone around me.
When it happens I get angry for no apparent reason. This anger is more akin to rage which has no reason or purpose, like a pot left on the stove with the top on which boils over. My mood swings wildly on some days and then I may go for weeks without any depression or anger.
The answer to “How did you get this injury?” is this: I had given platelets at a blood bank one day and I was on the way home. I stopped to get a drink and a sandwich and right after I had poured a cup of coffee, I suppose I passed completely out. When I came to, I was lying on the concrete floor of the gas station with two or three EMT’s around me. I passed out a few more times before getting to the hospital and while in the ER. After about six hours or so, a doctor came in and told me that he has stitched up a cut on the back of my head and I had a skull fracture which went from the back of my head almost to the front.
My personality changed after this and I never knew exactly why, until they began talking about NFL players who had experienced concussions and the effect it was having on them. My life since that time has been one of, as I said at first, highs and lows on an emotional scale. Thankfully, my wife has been supportive and understanding even when she didn’t know what was happening or why. I don’t become violent, but my anger sounds like I could kill someone, although mostly it is aimed toward myself since I don’t have a way of stopping it from showing up.
Why am I writing this? As a form of therapy I suppose, but mostly because I need your prayers. It seems that reading scripture and having people pray for me helps far more than anything else could. I am sure they could put me on some drugs which would likely help, but I wouldn’t be able to be an effective pastor like that I don’t think.
So, when I say that I understand how depression and mood swings and anger affect our lives, I really do know. I just don’t bring it out into the open much because of the stigma that it brings out in people or the way that others treat the person who admits this.
If you need prayer or just someone to vent to, feel free to let it loose in the comments. With God’s strength and His healing us from within, each of us can get through each day, one at a time. Read Psalm 23, 24, and 51 for inspiration and help during these times.