I’m Not Fine (And That’s Fine)

I don’t write funny stuff very much anymore. You may have noticed.

Part of this lack of humor is due to time and distance that have removed me from the halls of fundamentalism and worn smooth the hard places needed for creating cutting satire. These days I curate more than I create and that’s ok. I couldn’t possibly write parody that is crazier than the real life examples we see all around us.

There is another reason, however. It’s rather hard to write humor when you’ve been battling depression for years. And I have been in that fight for longer than I’ve been willing to admit for reasons that are many and deeply personal. I’ll tell you all about it the next time you buy me a cup of coffee or a glass of brew.

There are still flashes. There are moments when the old fire burns bright and the words flow. Those are the good days and they’re often few and far between.

I’m not fine.

But here’s the beautiful thing about not being fine — it puts you in some of the best company in the world. I’ve called and e-mailed and texted and PM’d dozens of people over the last few years who aren’t fine either. They’re people with lost identities. They’re families with financial issues and relationships that seem beyond repair. They have old cars that won’t always start and old anxieties that always seem to. They lose sleep. They lose their jobs. They lose their tempers. Sometimes they’ve all but lost hope.

I’ve learned a lesson in those conversations. Somewhere along in the darkness I found this thought and wrote it in lines:

Beyond the years of pain and bliss
The “Why?” of life is only this:
To love someone and be loved too.
The Why of life is me. It’s you.

Maybe you’re one of the fellowship of unfine souls. Maybe in the words of song you don’t have dream that remains unshattered or a friend who feels at ease. If that’s you then you’re in the right place.

Six years later this is what SFL is to me — it’s where nobody has to be fine. Whether ex-fundy, never-fundy, sort-of-fundy, or just plain confused you can feel free to set down the mask and gently fall to pieces.

Welcome. Grab a plate and find a seat. You’re home.

Here there is love. Let it always be so.

199 thoughts on “I’m Not Fine (And That’s Fine)”

  1. This was good; we need more places to be unfine and open about it. If you’re ever in New York City, let’s go for a (hopefully not too overpriced) brew.

  2. The fine people are lying, my dear. Nobody’s fine. And if you and yours are ever in Nevada, bring everyone to my house. I’ll cook. We’ll be unfine together and play Clue. It’ll be awesome.


  3. Thank you, Darrell. I admire your courage and persistence in maintaining this wonderful website.

    You don’t have to write funny stuff because the antics of these MoGs, “special music” offerings, painfully unfunny skits and all that, are funny, or strange enough.

  4. “Beyond the years of pain and bliss
    The “Why?” of life is only this:
    To love someone and be loved too.
    The Why of life is me. It’s you.”

    I needed this.

    Thank you.

  5. God Damn it Darrell! You have helped me so much in getting over my fundy indoctrination. You are very loved. Ive never met you, but you have helped me so much with this web site

  6. Yeah, me too. Anxiety for 8 years. It’s what prompted me to leave fundamentalism. It’s too tough sometimes and I don’t believe I’ll get through it, but I always do.

  7. I appreciate your sincerity and honesty. It is refreshing. Being a former fundy (20 years ago this month I graduated from PCC). 17 years removed from fundamentalism. I can say it does get better. Yet I am still not completely fine and occasionally have to deal with issues from my past. I recently stumbled on this website and the humor and self-deprecation that occur here has been a help to me. Thank you.

  8. Depression has run in my family although many would never admit it since that would cast how spiritual they are in doubt….
    Blessings on this journey to you. May you find peace in the midst of it all.

  9. Just a couple things you’ve heard from me many times and maybe one you haven’t.

    Grieving is incredibly important. You simply cannot over-estimate how poisonous it is to carry around hurts inside without going all the way through the grieving process.

    The company you keep is important. If you hang around shit bags all the time, you’re going to feel like a bag of shit. I’m not saying to cut yourself off from everyone who has shitty qualities, but don’t make them your sole or primary source of live information about the world.

    Don’t overlook the physical causes of depression. Not just things like diet or lack of exercise. It can be brain chemistry. And it can sometimes be treated without medicine. I discovered an amino acid that’s precursor to dopamine and it provided a pretty big lift in over all drive and motivation. I never had the classic dark, sad symptoms of depression. It was more like apathy. If I’d gone to the doctor and gotten some serotonin drug it probably would have made me worse. But there was still a real, underlying neurochemical problem.

  10. Thanks for sharing, unfortunately we live in a sin fallen world and depression is part of it. If we were taught that this is part of the curse, rather than putting on a smiling face and live a lie, we would have been better off.
    Thanks Darrell for everything you have done on this site; it’s truly a blessing to many here, especially me.

  11. Darrell, this website has been invaluable and to see you grow over the last few years has been proof that we can all overcome. If you are ever in OK I will happily take you for a coffee or brew.

  12. I too suffer from depression. And it gets me mad the way so many “spiritual” people think you just have to “follow The Lord more” “pray more” “read your Bible more.” For so long I was trying that, thinking my problem was I just wasn’t spiritual enough. Those teachings just add to the burden.

  13. Thank you for this post. Our struggles sound very, very similar. I also battle depression, which makes me amazed at how you have managed to keep up with this site all along. SFL has always been one of my all time favorites. Thank you for making the effort to keep up with it, Darrell.

  14. Depression? Anxiety? They are close companions. Few days are without clouds, many are without sun.

    Christ did not heal the well, the “fine.” He came to heal the sick, the broken and the distressed. He came to do for us what we could not do for ourselves.

    But have you noticed? While the mountain peaks get the sunshine, many of them are barren, lonely places. No food or water is found on the tall summits.

    The valleys are where people live, where things grow. They are often uncomfortable and dangerous, but without the challenges, people would be too weak to go on.

    Appreciate the valleys, even if you cannot love them. No doubt the blessing is disguised. But there is blessing, nonetheless.

    Thank you, Darrell, for being one of those blessings.

  15. Darrell, you have been inspiring in not only articulating thoughts and wisdom better than I ever could, but also being an all around great guy. We haven’t met in the ‘real world’ but it would be awesome to someday. SFL has helped me as well in the past few years and is a safe-haven for the us all. Peace to you and your family.

  16. I ride the waves of “fine” and “not fine.” There was a time I contemplated ending it, but I looked in the eyes of my children and knew I couldn’t steal their chance at being “fine.” I went to the doctor, got some meds and went to therapy for several years. Now I’m better more often than not. We’re here for you.

  17. God bless you, Darrell. This website has done so much good to so many people. Through your website, people that have been hurt by these “Christians” have been able to begin the healing process. Thank you for giving us this space to NOT be “fine”.

  18. As someone who was unaware of the challenges life was going to bring, and at every turn now seems to find a new and more complicated life puzzle to navigate through, I can only say this: you never know how your actions of being strong in the face of the uncertain can be an example to those who find it hard to be strong. You, sir, are a shining example to me and I would be in much worse state with out you George Bailey.

  19. Thank you for your post. Although not depressed or anxious at all (at the moment), I used to HATE when my former fundy church would do this crazy:

    Leader: “Attitude check!”
    Group: “Praise the Lord!”

    We would shout back and forth until we were “positive” enough. I felt it was phony, and never gave us the opportunity to deal with how we were really feeling, like how I felt about the domestic violence of my parents, the substance abuse that went on in my home, and some other things.

    It is hard to be honest, but always right!

  20. SFL has been a part of my healing process. I’m grateful for your gift of words & everything you’ve done to create the community that’s developed from your original blog. You’re a good and brave person, Darrell. Wishing you peace and love.
    P.S. I needed that poem today because I’m not fine either. Thank you.

  21. You have a fellow not-fine friend in me. Sometimes the hardest part of escaping the cage is not knowing where you fit. People ask me sometimes, “Well, what do you believe now?”

    I don’t know yet. And that makes me feel like a fish out of water when I think about it.

    Two books have helped me: Hyperbole and a Half and My Bright Abyss.

    Thanks for this post. And this site.

  22. Darrell, I’m also ‘Not Fine’. I’m having some of the same struggles with depression and anxiety. And I have some serious health issues on top of that. But you have built a community of honest people here- people who are honest about their fears and their hurts and their brokenness. That is a wonderful thing. And you’ve borne so many of us up when we’ve needed it, please don’t hesitate to let us bear you!

  23. Most of us here come from some degree of brokenness, of pain, of self-doubt. From a teenager, I identified with John Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale”.

    “Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
    What thou among the leaves hast never known,
    The weariness, the fever, and the fret
    Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
    Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last grey hairs,
    Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
    Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
    And leaden-eyed despairs;
    Where beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
    Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.”

    Depression runs in my family. Some of us have been helped by mild medication. I’m one of those. I am able to see life as both sunshine and shadows, rather than just shadows. Finally. In my 50s. Thanks be to God.

    Darrell, your post brings me back to my outlook in my younger days. I expect that being curator of this wonderful blog is quite burdensome. We care about you more than about this blog. If you ever need to take a break from it, I for one, understand and support you.

    Years back, my wife and I were involved in lay ministry, basically full time while working full time secular jobs. When we had to step back for our own mental and emotional survival, many did not understand. We stepped back, and it was the right thing for us to do. Take care of yourself, and of your fine family.
    Your brother,

  24. Depression sucks. For me it has been a life long struggle. I’ve finally learned to tell people, to treat it as if it were an illness, as it is.
    I have a friend with anxiety. They’re two sides of the same coin.
    On a cheerier note, depression runs in intelligent, creative people. So here’s to us, the depressed geniuses!

  25. Well, Darrell, judging from all the comments, it appears you’re in good company.

    My pastor preached a sermon that the Church is really like the Island of Misfit Toys. We’ve cobbled together a church here in this space. A church full of hurting, broken, blatantly not-fine people, trying to ease burdens and bind wounds. A group of rag-tag misfits who have been rejected and abused because we don’t quite fit the mold.
    A hodge-oodge of adopted family who love you even if (and probably precisely because) you’re not fine.

    You give us a safe place to take off our smiling masks, too.

  26. For many, this is a difficult time of year. The days are shorter and the weather is colder. There is a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder.

    Many years ago someone sent me a Christmas card:

    “I heard a bird sing in the dark of December,
    It’s nearer to Spring than it was in November,
    I heard a bird sing in the dark of December.”

    1. Thank you! As one of the SAD people (thank Whatever for SAD light therapy!), I needed the reminder on this dismal day that Spring will come, eventually.

    2. I tend to get SAD either during seasonal transitions or during the summer months. I’m happiest in fall and mid-winter, and get cranky or experience migraines and flu like symptoms in the summer.

      We’re all different, I guess.

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