By Rachael Schaad Lane
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
No one really talks about the anger or irritability. Having lived with depression for almost six years, I thought I was familiar with all it encompassed—sadness, loneliness, lack of energy, and low mood. So as the anger continued to grow, as it manifested in harmful words to my spouse, in unpredictable mood swings, in vengeful actions—I thought something was inherently wrong with me. I was ashamed by who I had become—a bad person, a mean wife, and an unforgiving friend. I cried in the doctor’s office during a medication check-up explaining these feelings of angry chaos.
“I just feel so out of control. I can’t stop exploding.”
There was so much relief in hearing that symptoms of depression can include anger and irritability. That the chaos was not inherent to my personhood, but part of the mental illness I live with.
I worked with my doctor and therapist to change medication and strategies to address this relapse in symptoms. Routine was one of the most important components to recovery. Taking steps to help bring structure to this chaos was critical in managing the anger, in bringing feelings of control back into my life.
Taking daily medication was good.
Going to weekly therapy was good.
Getting adequate sleep every night was good.
Making a schedule with my spouse was good.
Ensuring I ate three meals of day was good.
Setting apart quiet time every day was good.
Bringing order to the chaos is good.
Whether you live with mental illness or not, experiences of chaos in life can be overwhelming. They leave you feeling alone, powerless, and broken. Sometimes we need to be reminded that God has been with the chaos since the beginning, dwelled among it, brought it order and called it good. In ordering and separating, God didn’t destroy the chaos, or remove it, but transformed it.
Chaos is part of our humanity. It is part of me and my mental illness. But God dwells among the chaos. And that chaos can be ordered and transformed into things that are good. Let us participate in spiritual practices of routine and ordering. Let us find hope in a God who dwells among the chaos and brings it into order.
Jesus, you lived within the chaos of human life. You experienced the turmoil of disorientation. You brought new life to disarray. I pray that we feel your presence during the chaos of our own lives. And that with you we find ways to restore order and control among the mess. May we be people of transformed chaos and see that we are good. Amen
Rachael blogs at https://betweenseminaryandsocialwork.blogspot.com/