Skip to main content

Depression after a missions trip

Does anyone else ever face this but me?  Evidently so because I just Googled it today and found that it happens to others.  I know many have trouble with re-entry into the USA in dealing with how much we are blessed vs. the poverty they just experienced.  I feel that of course, and more than just after a trip.  Africa has gotten so into my heart that it's something I face on a regular basis.

My husband asked me yesterday, "how much MORE can you possibly SLEEP?"  I told him that he doesn't really understand the difficulty of the upside down schedule, first of all.  Turning it right side up when your days have been nights for a week is not easy.  Second, even with that I hardly sleep while I'm actually over there.  I am so keyed up about everything I can hardly let down.  The more I go to Africa the more excited I get, not the other way around.  It never becomes "old hat" to me.  Sometimes I get up in the middle of the night there just to stare out the window at the rain and listen to the birds.  I take in every last moment that I can.  Yes, I try to shut down and rest while there but it's proven very difficult.  I am more amazed by the place each time I go.

Third, the emotional and spiritual energy expended for me is really indescribable, especially preaching six services back to back will full altar services that last a long time.  Some of the services there go on FOREVER.  Becca was amazed.  Not that I didn't warn her.  I've been in a six hour service there!  No kidding.  Then there is saying goodbye to those I love -- I don't ever think there's anything good about a goodbye.    And finally, the 30 hour trip home.  "Didn't you sleep on the plane?" my husband says.  Well, yes, I did do some of that, but consider that you are sleeping upright in a very uncomfortable small seat and being interrupted constantly by announcements over an intercom or someone needing to go potty, or other stuff.  It's not exactly good sleep.  Add to that -- I don't like to fly and sort of pray my way through!  All of this blended together is rather overwhelming.  But I'd go through it again and again to be there.   With all of this said, I'm not complaining, just EXPLAINING.

So since coming home... I craved a bath and had to clean the bathroom first to do that.  It took me about an hour to scrub it down and then I bathed and have since stayed in bed since Wednesday night.  Haven't answered email or the phone, and have slept the majority of the time.  I ate whatever Larry happened to feed me since Wed night which up til' this morning consisted of a McDonalds meal one time, and the other time a bowl of chicken soup.  I finally decided I needed something more this morning so I got up and fixed myself  some banana blueberry pancakes which are my favorite, as well as hot tea.  I made some plain pancakes for Savanna because that's the way she likes them. 

I'm feeling more rested now, and was hoping my spirits would lift too.  Part of the reason I haven't returned any calls or texts up til now is that despite what God did I have just felt low.   Fried.  Like I have nothing to offer.  I know that sounds strange because there's so much to say, but I guess after the huge adreneline rush I sort of bottomed out.   I've given myself permission to ease back into life although some may not understand it, sometimes you just have to do what's best for you.   I'm taking the advice of Marsha Woolley, our district WM director and a dear friend...she was raised in Africa on the missionfield and well understands all that I'm talking about here.  On my facebook she left this comment a few days ago:  "We're so happy you are back. Just take time to rest not just your body but your heart. It's so hard to come back. I remember one time when I came back I was coming up the escalator in Atlanta and a pastor that was with me said 'we're back to the real world,' and I said 'no, we're back to fantasy land, where we've been is the real world!'"

Church is tomorrow as well as beach day and water baptism following that, so I will have to get into a little higher gear here in the next 24 hours.  I'm moving a little faster today...and hope to have my happy face on tomorrow at Celebration


Anonymous said…
So glad you are back. You've been in my thoughts and prayers. You are not alone in the depression. My brother, a former missionary to Africa and now ministering in Indonesia with his family, deals with this everytime they return to the states. It takes him months to once again become used to the luxuries of the pure tap water. And about the time he is used to life in the states, it is time to return to the field. The burden you have for Africa is precious. I am so happy that you share your experiences with your readers.
Leanne said…
I think even beyond the fact that we have so much here in the U.S. [I still cannot think of anyone here as "poor" after visiting the tin shacks in Monterrey, Mexico at age 14!], it's also because we have had life-altering spiritual experiences, and everyone back home is their life as usual. My husband's and my best friends truly became our best friends after we went on a missions trip together, because once we got home, no one else wanted to hear us go on ad nauseum about everything we had experienced...but we needed to talk about it, and remind ourselves that we really had gone. I totally hear ya [and mine was only to work with a home missions church :o)]!!
Anonymous said…
I so do understand completely. I remember the first time I went to Guatemala in 91 with a team of 17 from our church. God moved, the people were so hungry for God. There was such many near the garbage dumps just to get food.
But when I came home and drove my car from church to home, I just sat behind the wheel and wept. And only those who had gone on the trip had fully understood what I was feeling.
So, with all that said, you will be in my prayers! Deborah

Popular posts from this blog

What To Do First to Make a Profit

Today on Seth Godin's blog, he said:

It's tempting to decide to make a profit first, then invest in training, people, facilities, promotion, customer service and most of all, doing important work. In general, though, it goes the other way.
Yes, it does. If you are waiting to make a profit before you do these things, in my experience you're  not going to make a profit. So many organizations, ministries and churches are struggling with financial issues. I know your pain. As anyone who follows our story knows, our ministry was in a ton of debt four years ago when I came on as director.  Since that time, we've gotten out of debt and turned a profit every year.  God has done amazing things through out team, for which we give Him the glory!

I find that what Seth is saying here is absolutely true, with one disclaimer. For Christian leaders, spiritual disciplines must always be first. Before we started investing and training and all of that, seeking God for his blessing and…

I'm Just Being Transparent...

This year at the Stronger Conference, a young minister stopped me as I was walking out of the room at the conclusion of a workshop and she said, "I want to tell you something..." (I was all ears.) She said, "Do you notice how many of the speakers this weekend are saying, "Now, I'm just being transparent when I tell you..." or "I'm just keepin' it real..." I nodded yes. In fact, I mentioned that I was one of those speakers. I think I probably said a few times in both my keynote message and my workshop that I was just "keepin' it real."

After I affirmed that yes, I had noticed that -- she said, "Do you know why they have to do that? They do it...and you do it, because so many people don't keep it real. So many in leadership aren't transparent, Deanna. That's why all these people speaking here feel an urge to declare their transparency.." I let her know that usually when I say, "I'm just keeping …

Why You Should Never Hijack a Comment Thread
Social media etiquette 101

One surefire way to kill your influence in social media and wear out your welcome fast is to become involved in derailing somebody’s comment thread with your own agenda. Networking and hijacking aren’t the same thing. It’s surprising how many people don’t understand that this is a guarantee for tearing down a platform as quickly as you build it.

Passion is good, even necessary. I appreciate people's zeal for their personal core values. What is not appreciated is the attempt at a redirection of a comment thread when the comment has little or nothing to do with an original post or is twisted at best.

Social media provides ample opportunity for all of us to share what’s important to us on our own platform. Eliciting others’ responses and developing connections largely depends on our ability to communicate and compel. Some people are open to receiving private communication from others although they aren’t always able to answer personally or at length. But hijacking a comment thread no…