Christine Duncan

Precepts & Life Preservers

The Inevitable

Well, it was bound to happen. Inevitable really.

The holiday thrusting extra stresses into the daily coping. The extra excitement bringing a mad sort of pressure with it, waiting to explode without warning, but ending up more like a not-hesitating to implode slowly from within kind of event.

And yes, you had a wonder-filled Christmas, or holiday. And yes, the love flowed, and the memories were made, and the giving knew no bounds, and the blessings were everywhere. But on top of that was a mountain of planning, and running, and waiting, and forgetting, and wrapping, and building, and smiling till your face freezes.

And eventually the slightest breeze threatens to snap your wholeness like a twig, and you’re down for the count. (Love mixing metaphors, love it.)

I call it The Crumble Down Effect.

And it’s what happens when you literally crumble down into a heap, and can’t think, can’t move, can’t respond, and can’t function.

Here’s what it feels like. Maybe you know it all too well.

Can’t think.
The brain, it can’t retain any more info, nor will it retrieve it at whim. I can’t answer your questions today. Your words, no matter how many times you say them to me, will not register. See that glazed, deer-in-the-headlights look? I can’t think of how to even BE today. If you approach me even one more time, I won’t just run for the hills, I’ll run for the hills, and collapse, while I scream. ‘Cause my brain won’t know what to make of any of it. At all. Zero processing. Numb. So numb, I won’t even be able to explain it to you this way at the time. That’s numb, people.

Can’t Move.
The body won’t go if the brain is paralyzed. Period. Since I can’t think, I can’t know if I can even leave my room, my bed, my house. If I do move, it’s in a fog, it’s in reaction to other stresses, and it’s out of the instinct to get low. To wait it out. To avoid another single person who might make my helpless brain hurt. And if you make me, you’ll see the Crumble Down Effect in effect with your own eyes.

And it won’t be pretty.

Can’t respond.
Kind of covered this with the whole disabled brain thing, but if you persist in dogging someone who is suffering with this, their brain will ignore it, and then be completely overwhelmed by it. So ask all your innocent questions about where the coffee got put away, how many times the dog’s been out, or when the next week for carpooling starts, but you’ll get a frustrated stammering response that sounds a lot like anger, or anxiety, and you’ll notice that your simple question becomes this complicated journey to an eventual “I… just… I… don’t know… right now… okay?”
Brutal. Brutal for the person in full-blown CDE, and brutal for the one who brings it to a head. Just warning ya.

And lastly. Can’t function.
I realise I look like something the cat dragged in after wrestling with it for hours first. I know I’m supposed to be doing something and that people need me. I know I’m just figuring out that a whole day has gone by. But that’s what the Crumble Down Effect does. You’re immobilized. Debilitated. Stuck. And it might look like I’ve watched 12 hours of t.v but trust me, I haven’t seen any of it, and it’s because I couldn’t move. It might look like I’m hours on the computer, but I’m not engaging, I’m not anything, I’m just darting mindlessly through who knows what, because it won’t register. You may not ever see tears. You may never hear anger. But it’s because none of it works right now. So despite what you see, know this….
I’m not functioning.

The Crumble Down Effect doesn’t just hit people like myself, living with Dysthymia or other mood/mental disorders. It can hit anyone who has been pushed to their limits, been asked too much of, has had too much required of them, emotionally, physically, spiritually… I see it in moms who go, go, go for the three weeks leading up to Christmas, then suddenly fizzle out, only to find themselves in a mysterious state of meltdown. I see it in people who lived 24/7 at the office or shop, then suddenly get a day off, and the weight of the employment world can’t be carried another day, and the simplest thing triggers a spiraling into anxiety.

It can happen to anyone.

But it’s hard when the Crumble Down happens to someone who manages a mood disorder. Because once that heaviness rolls in, you have a much harder time getting it to lift than the average person.

And regardless of your faith, and its status as strong or fiery, or weak and wobbly, and regardless of how healthy you are, or how many extra vitamins you popped, and how much sleep you get, it can build and build without knowing it’s coming.

And when it hits, you had better have warned a loved one that when the inevitable happens, they just need to trust that when you can, you’ll tell them what you need, and not before.

And that they’ll just need to understand how hard it is in the meantime. That prompts, and incentives, and positive little quotes will not coax you out of your dysthymic crumble. There’s no magic trick, or special chant.

That you just need to be. That’s all.

And as a believer, I have something unshakable for the times things are shaky. I have to fully know and trust, and stand on the unmovable promise from my Covenant God, that He never lets me Crumble Down so far that I can’t get back. Because He never leaves me or forsakes me. He never lets me remain in the pit. Tossed on a raging sea of depression without the Life Preserver. And never is there any condemnation or shame in the meantime. Because inevitably He desires to see restoration flow through every ounce of our lives in Him.

You restored me to health, and gave me back my life” Isaiah 38:16b

Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong and do not fear’; your God will come,  with divine retribution He will save you” Isaiah 35:4

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

Have you ever noticed that a constant theme through the Bible is “do not be discouraged”?

Really think about that for a minute. The Father, our Soul-ution for every thing we will ever come up against, weaves for us a thread of hope. Of real Hope. A command and a promise for our battered souls. For when the Crumble Down Effect threatens.

Do not be discouraged. He has you. Isaiah describes Him at one point as the good shepherd who not only herds His sheep but carries them as lambs, against His chest, up close to His heart where they can hear it beat, and carries them where they’re safe.

So, go ahead and crumble. Does that shock you? Take today, allow it to be just you, in pajamas, with the phone off the hook, cease your striving, stop the stressing running rampant through your mind, and wait. Wait without guilt. Wait without shame. Know it’s time.

Wait for the Good Shepherd to come back along the impossible path, and pick you up, and press you to His gentle Shepherd’s heart, the one that beats in perfect time with yours, and carry you to better ground.

The inevitable Crumble Down Effect can’t touch Him.

He knows exactly what you need at all times.

He created it so that He’d always be the answer if we let Him.

Look for those strong arms. They’re reaching for you every time you think you’re going down, child of God.

It’s inevitable.


  1. I’m sorry you are struggling right now. You are right, it is inevitable at times, but I love that even though it is difficult, you are looking upward to find peace. I’ll add you to my prayer journal. Thank you for your vulnerability and I hope this passes into a season of brightness for you. God bless.

    • Christine Duncan

      January 6, 2015 at 7:16 PM

      Well, even though I posted for today, this was written out of a head space I was in a little while ago… and I know others are going through it as well. But yes, would love it if you’d keep me in your prayers, as the chronic depression subsides and rolls in without much to control it. And when it rolls in, it’s hard to remember Who holds us in the midst.
      All we can do is keep looking up 🙂 And oh how I learn not to take each season of brightness for granted!
      I pray that God continues to use my encounters with it and with Him to reach into other believers lives who live with the same disorders.
      Thanks for your support and friendship, Kristi, you’re an encouragement for this heart!

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