June 3rd, 2010

I Believe

thoughts about chronic pain and where my life is headed professionally and spiritually

This is a public post. I will be screening all comments on public posts both to avoid spam and to ensure that content from locked posts does not bleed into public entries via comments. Nobody would mean to do this, but since I have posted so many locked entries related to my health I ask the indulgence of my regular readers. It is not personal.

When I was in seminary, I did a lot of reading that spurred some potentially profound reflections; but I had very little time to expand on them. Since graduating, I have had the intention of doing just that; but various things have gotten in the way.

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I have slipped into a fairly bad depression regarding my lack of employment or steady freelance work. Rationally, I know that I have skills which would enable me to work and generate income; but I feel emotionally paralyzed the longer I go without earned income. Living with such excruciating pain does not help my state of mind; and lately I have begun to wonder about the link between high levels of pain and mood-altering neurotransmitters in the brain. I have undergone many years of intensive psychotherapy in order to build skills to cope with ongoing stress associated with chronic illness and chronic unemployment. This is the reason I am able to think rationally about my options while I am also aware of the deep depression. I have been able to spring-clean my house in preparation for a guest with allergies to cats and to maintain a general state of affairs since getting finished with that task in spite of the depression; but I am having difficulty pushing myself to do anything about income-generating possibilities...

Perhaps I am missing a step... In my rambling thoughts somewhere in my internship journal, or perhaps in one of my ordination reflections, I talked about the need for a someone to write extensively about faith and illness/disability from the perspective of having lived with it. I have read various books about theology and disability. In the most recent one, the point was made that no one has written from the point of view of a theologian and a person with a disability. This is a vital piece missing from disability theology; and I am very aware of it and very keen to fill it. I am also a teacher; and I think that it is important for a person with disabilities to write about disabilities and biblical studies. It matters not just for the disability community but also for the church because they learn from our perspectives and they are so often drawn to the healing narratives as sources of encouragement. I need to let my life interact with these texts, let my vulnerability be part of what I do... It is hard to do this when I am in pain; but that is something I cannot do when I am well and working as if I am not really very disabled. I can't let the depression take hold of me and control me, though it matters that I acknowledge it is there.

I have no idea what will happen regarding my employment possibilities, freelance work opportunities, etc. I really hope something turns around soon. Chronic pain is not going to change. It is something I have learned to live with. I made it through seminary as a full-time student; and there is no reason why I should not be able to rise to the challenge and work, barring any more six-month headaches. In the meantime, I must rise to the challenge and do disability theology. I think that there are people who need this; and I think that for now this is what God has given to me to do.

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