Depression

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Yikes…goin deep quick today. Here is my disclaimer for this post:

I am not an expert on depression, I am not a doctor. I am someone who has struggled with depression and who makes daily efforts to not find myself back in that place. I will share my experiences as I see fit, I will not sugar coat or skim over. And lastly I am writing this because I think that one of the greatest tricks depression plays is the one that gets you to stay quiet. I believe there is power in a voice, a testimony and a life.

Depression is the most twisted comfort. I’m scared of it while simultaneously yearning for it. There is something sickeningly appealing about it. The way I can crawl into bed and sleep for days at a time. How easy it is to not care about anything except my pain. The familiar trail of tears or the absence of emotion. The way my thoughts can rip apart the joy of any moment or memory. Feeling so alone even when I’m surrounded by people. Wanting so desperately to leave this feeling but seeing no escape. Questioning if I even want an escape. It’s dark. It’s lonely. It’s exhausting. It’s not what I was made for. Yet it is constantly at bay waiting for the right moment to come back in and overtake me.

The thing is I didn’t even know it was happening to me. A few years ago and I remember being so tired, like to the core of my being I was exhausted. I remember being sad, and I remember being numb, not caring about much of anything. But I couldn’t be depressed. Not me. I am a Christian. Not just one of those people who kinda comes to church and might love God. I work at a church, I serve in the church, I read my Bible, I listen to worship music, I pray  and even my friends love Jesus! No, depressed was not something I could be. How could this happen? Maybe I just need to read my bible more, maybe I should pray more. But I definitely shouldn’t talk about this. So I didn’t. For a few months I pretended like it wasn’t an issue. I let myself go through the motions of my daily routine. I went to work, I served in church, I hung out with friends. I went home and cried myself to sleep  or sometimes I just sat with no emotion or maybe too many to pinpoint any one particular feeling. My bones ached. I kept reading, I kept showing up, I kept praying. I made that decision a hundred times a day, it was the hardest one I have ever made.

How do I keep pursuing a relationship with someone who felt so far away. Not just anyone but the one who was supposed to be my comforter? Where was He now? I was doing all the right things and this wasn’t getting any better. Do I really love Jesus if this is happening to me? Is this all a joke? Am I missing something? What am I doing wrong? Did I do something to deserve this? I wish I could tell you that in a moment He came and rescued me from depression, that I never struggled with it again. But I can’t. It was a process. It was exhausting, discouraging, and hard. So hard. Everyday I was confronted with overwhelming despair. I felt like I would never be free from it. It had wrapped its arms so tightly around me that it actually became a part of me. Sunk its claws so deep inside of me that I wondered if it had always been there. How was I supposed to fight something that was so adept at keeping me bound? Let alone function normally in life? I barely had the energy to get out of bed let alone contend for my mental health.

There wasn’t a moment, or a specific day that I can look back on and mark as “The Day I Beat Depression”. It was a gradual seemingly never ending process. That probably doesn’t encourage you, believe me it was not how I thought it would play out. I thought that once I finally came to terms with the fact that I was depressed then I would just need to pray and God would come in and take it from me. I would be healed in an instant, after all half the battle is admitting you have a problem right (or is that exclusively for addictions?). I had heard about it happening like that for other people, one day God took away the pain and replaced it with joy. I wanted that, I deserved that. I loved Jesus, I shouldn’t be dealing with this. That is not how my story played out. And that was hard for me, it seemed unjust.  But slowly I did come out of it, slowly I began to feel more, laugh more, cry less, be hopeful again. I wanted to do more than sleep, waking up got easier, days didn’t drag on like they did before. The arms loosened and the claws retracted little by little until I couldn’t feel them.

The thing about depression is it leaves you scarred. I can still feel the traces of its grip, still feel the pangs of its hold. There is a scar, one that cannot be seen but felt. Sometimes still tender to the touch, so close to breaking open. This scar, the depression that gripped me so fully has changed me. It was necessary for me to walk through it, though I may never fully understand why. It has broken me open in a way I never wanted to be broken. It has made me more aware of people struggles. Though they cannot always be seen does not make them any less damaging or real. It has given me a greater capacity to love and love deeply. It has shown me just how steadfast and unchanging my God is. Even when I can’t feel him He is the same, He is GOOD. I held on to that, I repeated it to myself a hundred time a day even when less than half of me believed it. I can’t imagine how I would have made it without that knowledge. The thing about emotion and feelings is they are deceitful, they are easily swayed by circumstances. God is unchanging, constant and steadfast. I can look back now with a little bit of perspective and see some of the ways He was there during my darkest time. I learned that the word is enough. So often we think we need God to speak to us directly but He has given us everything we could need in the Bible. Even if I never felt Him or heard His wispers the Bible would still have exactly what I need for every situation.

It took me over a year to write this post. A year of coming back and slowly adding to it, never feeling fully qualified to write about such a big topic. Depression is real and life changing and it needs to be talked about, especially in the church. I can’t say that I won’t ever struggle  battle with it again, I hope I don’t but I don’t know what the future holds. I do know that I am better because of it, I can connect with people that I otherwise would not have been able to. I can empathize with a situation that I previously could not. Because what the enemy meant for harm God used for GOOD. I wrote this for anyone who is walking through depression, feeling overcome and overwhelmed by it, feeling hopeless and powerless. I want you to know that you are not alone, even though it feels like you are. I want you to know that you are loved and that you matter. That you are seen, even in the darkness you are seen. That you will make it, even if everything inside of you screams otherwise. That life is worth fighting for, every piece of it. I know the pain that comes along with depression, I know what if feels like to want to leave this earth. I want you to know that I am standing with you. That there is hope and His name is Jesus. I want to remind you that you are strong even when you mind and body disagree. I want to let you know that He is fighting with you, that His heart hurts with yours. I want to remind you that there is so much good out there, there is so much to fight for. You are not alone.

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