This is a topic I’ve wanted to write about for months now, but haven’t been able to get together. Probably because when one is depressed, the last thing she wants to do is write about it, much less share that writing with the planet. Yesterday, I decided I needed to give it a go, so hopefully you find encouragement somewhere.
I’m of the mindset that depression, like cancer, is a disease. One that you can do things to prevent but sometimes it just is. Once it’s in your body, you must actively do something to get it out. For some, medication is required. For others, healthy eating, exercise, and a full social calendar will do the trick. Still for others, years of counseling, prayer, and a combination of all of the above will fight the battles of depression. This post is not about the scientific studies behind depression, nor do I care whether you agree or disagree with me. The purpose of my writing is this: to break the stigma behind the disease as well as to offer a little more vulnerability into my own life for those who wish to know it.
Yesterday, as I sat in my office fighting back tears, the following thoughts played through my mind,
You’re not good enough. You’ll never get this right.
Thankfully, many years of battling depression have taught me a few things. The above thoughts were intermingled with:
Those are lies. Satan wants me to fail. God wants to love me You are what you eat. I’ve spent an entire month eating anything but healthy foods, this physically effects (affects?) the way my mind operates – time to get healthy. Oh yeah, I haven’t exercised much lately, either. Who wants to join me for a 5 mile run this weekend? While I love my family and they love me, we don’t always treat each other the best. We also don’t do such a great job at respecting each other’s differences. That takes radical grace, and I’m not so good at it. After a week of “vacation” with my entire family, I’m weary of my internal battles and simply need to rest. “It’s alright to cry, it might make you feel better” (Thank you, Ruhiyyih) You have a steady community, who loves you heaps. It’s okay to admit to them that you don’t have it all together. You can stop being so damn independent. This will pass; it’s just difficult in this moment. Life is difficult, there are always challenges, but you have overcome them before and you will again. The Holy Spirit fights these battles with you. I’m always being offered a new way to see things. Will I choose to see?
I went for a walk at lunch and saw the sun. I focused myself on the present moment that I can do something about; instead of looking towards things I have no control over (the past). I remembered the gifts that I’ve been given and the way love has been showered onto me. I accepted how I was feeling, and then chose not to wallow in it. I decided that if I needed to, I would take medication again. I checked out Ecounseling.com for some encouragement, and read several encouraging blog posts. I made plans so that I wouldn’t be stressed about the things I needed to accomplish. I spent the evening with my awesome community to celebrate a birthday. Celebrations are important – they remind us of hope and joy in life. I listened to my friends talk about how we have intentionally chosen to be friends, and share life together (my spirit heard: someone wants you!) I laughed ridiculously at the pranks they’ve played, met new people, shared my sadness, and enjoyed the present.
There are so many of you who I’ve spoken with over the last few months who are full to the brim with hurts and sorrow. It might be time to empty that pitcher of dirty water and fill it with fresh, living water. Just like taking chemotherapy to destroy cancer, you have to actively work to destroy depression. There will be something that works for you, whether through healing prayer, medication, raw foods, volunteering, or running a marathon.
There is a time for mourning and grief, absolutely. Hurt and sorrow should never, ever, be ignored or downplayed. Emotional pain is legitimate and must be given its place in life. If you remember anything I wrote here, remember this: that there is a love that redeems all suffering. A love that is compassionate in our suffering and waits with us through it.
Your suffering and pain is real.
Your suffering and pain is not being ignored.
Your suffering and pain will be redeemed, not revenged.
You may see suffering and pain again in your lifetime.
Your suffering and pain requires great things of you. They require that you hope. They require that you love. They require humility. They require grace. They require honesty. They require compassion, community, solidarity.
When your suffering turns to abundant peace and hope, there will be great rejoicing.
If you are feeling discouraged today, send me a message and let me connect you with some personal encouragement and other resources. If you have one friend, tell them why your heart is hurting, and resolve to be a participant in your healing. Find a reason to celebrate.