Christine Duncan

Precepts & Life Preservers

Anywhere But Here

It’s an anywhere but here in my head kind of day.

It’s the part of dysthymia that really drives me crazy.

Almost literally.


I sit here knowing without a doubt where I would like to be, or what I’d like to be doing or finishing in that moment, but my agitated brain threatens to ruin it.

And there’s no override.

I had a day to do whatever I wanted. For eight hours the world was my oyster. I had been looking forward to it for the last week.

I had several things I could choose to enjoy or accomplish. But now the day was here.

And that darned mental agitation had come rolling in.

And although a small part of me wanted to recall what I’d enjoy doing most with the free time I had, my brain was loudly opposing the thoughts, making me regret even waking up.

Already I could sense it. Isolated noises extra loud to my brain, the dog drinking out of the water bowl nearly making me bolt and whisk her bowl into oblivion. Asking my husband to repeat what he’d just said three different times, my brain tuning out without warning.

And like a heavy shroud trying to suffocate you, agitation and anxiety simmer underneath your moods, flaring up only long enough to make you second guess everything you’ve ever thought.

What I wanted to do was go down to my favorite coffee-house, plug in my laptop, plug into a lovely pastry and chocolate chai tea, and write and muse and people watch.

Sounds lovely, I know.

That was the first plan.

But I knew the minute I attempted it, it would fall apart. I know the signs well, and know it’s irreversible once it’s set in. I would fidget, I would lose focus, my brain would rage and wander, I’d feel like everyone could tell. I would want to be gone already, I’d feel anger and frustration, and I’d be worse than if I never got there and just gave up… so you can see why so many with any kind of mood disorder or depression just give up, that’s the agitated and chaotic and screaming state of your moods.

You can be exactly where you want to be, it can be the best set up in the world, but if your brain is wreaking havoc with your moods, it’s exactly the last place you want to be.

For example, I know now, looking back decades before my diagnosis, that it was my early onset dysthymia that nearly sabotaged our honeymoon. We were so young. We were trying so hard to not be afraid of the future. Clinging to God hard. We were ecstatic even just to have a honeymoon at all.

And on day two of what should have been a really beautiful day in Niagara, I couldn’t figure out what the heaviness across my chest was, why everything my sweet husband said grated like chalk on a chalkboard, and why just being asked, “well then, what would YOU like to do?” sent me into scary meltdown mode.

My heart said, “what’s wrong with you? He wants to stop in old shops, restaurants, wants to hold your hand… why does this sound impossible?

And my head said it was too many choices to process, too many decisions it couldn’t filter, too many things to keep track of.

And I nearly made us go home. I broke up inside.

Poor Richard never knew what hit him. I cringe when I think of it.

And I especially didn’t know. I was miserable. Panicked. Confused.

The next day was an upswing, things returned to semi-normal, and I spent all day asking myself what had gotten into me. The trip was fine, but inside my heart I was appalled at behavior I seemed to have zero control over and had no reason for!

I’m just so thankful it didn’t last the whole week or longer, like it often can. But many a day trip or date night wound up like that.
Until I got my diagnosis.

These days, I know better how to adjust. So does my husband.

When that anywhere-but-here feeling hits, changing locations won’t help, I’ll still want to be anywhere but there. Giving myself time before I try what I initially wanted won’t help, I just give myself more time to be agitated.

What is a dysthymic gal to do?

I sink.

Oh, don’t take this the wrong way though.

I sink into Him.

When these difficult and non-negotiable symptoms rear their heads, instead of struggling, I remain still and sink into His presence.

Like when you find yourself in quicksand, the last thing you want to do is keep fighting and wriggling, you have to remain still. And if you’re going to sink, you sink into His side, you hide there, and He carries you. Fully immersed. Sunk into His goodness and mercy.

When my brain and moods and emotions are all in this impossible tangle, it’s kind of like how Paul writes in Romans 7, “I don’t understand what I do! For what I want to do, I don’t do, and what I hate, I keep doing…” and on and on.

This is not the state of the heart He desires for us. This is not how He wants us to live, exhausted and conflicted and restless, without hope. He wants something better.

In those moments, all I know is that I want that ‘something better’.

So I allow myself to sink into Him.

And every time we do, He says over us, ” Cease striving and know that I am your God.”

“My presence goes with you, child, and I give rest to you.”

“Fix your mind on Me, and I’ll keep you in perfect peace.”

“Come to Me for rest for your souls. Take My yoke that’s easy and light. I’ll carry your burdens.”

“I am your Shepherd, in Me you’ll lack nothing. I’ll give you green pastures to lay in, restoring streams to rest beside, refreshing you. I’ll guide you, protect you, keep you safe, comfort you. My goodness and mercy will follow you all you days.”

Yes, if it’s anywhere but here, I want my anywhere to be Him.

It’s not hard, it’s not complicated, it requires no ripples of new choices to overwhelm. There is nothing about Him that frustrates, that agitates, that is lacking in any way.

He is Perfect Peace.

I love the verse inΒ Isaiah 26:3Β that boldly says to all;
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!”

I just have to acknowledge that I need Him.

I keep my rattled mind there, fixed there, anchored says one version, (which I love) and perfect peace is made available.

I don’t know about you but that’s exactly where I want to be.

He’s where I want my anywhere to be. Everytime.

I don’t know if you have a condition of chronic depression lurking about. I don’t know if you have difficult life choices. I don’t know if you battle anxiety, shattered dreams maybe, a broken heart, or regrets that haunt, an illness that’s scary.

But better than holing up in the dark under the blankets somewhere, better than drowning it out with bad habits or addictions, better than calling it quits, He waits for us to sink down into His presence of love and peace and mercy and strength.

And I don’t know about you,
but I want my ‘anywhere but here’
to be Him.


  1. You used the word dysthymia in a blogpost! As a mental health counselor, I’m already hooked. πŸ™‚
    And sorry about the dysthymia. πŸ™ Not a fun issue to combat.

    • Christine Duncan

      March 13, 2015 at 12:04 PM

      Aw, thank you Anne! It’s so cool to meet you… how awesome is that! I’m just starting to really understand the importance of a counselor for all of this, so feel free to visit the page anytime πŸ™‚
      The chronic D is hard at times, but what was harder was living with it for over 25 years and not knowing it was not just a “thing” in my head… but an actual mood disorder. Now that I know what it is, I am adjusting, and using it to help others, hopefully πŸ™‚

  2. I’ve had so many friends tell me how thankful they are for your blog! You put words to their struggles and then lead them to the ONE who can put an end to them. Just knowing they are not alone, brings comfort and hope.

    • Christine Duncan

      March 15, 2015 at 1:10 PM

      It will always blow me away that God uses my words that way, even though I try to make sure they’re His words to begin with πŸ™‚

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