I’ve been struggling since Thursday when we left the lodge at Hannagan Meadow. I thought I was just bummed because we were leaving, but the heavy sadness in my face and chest hasn’t left since Thursday. I’ve been irritable, tired, on the verge of tears and numb. It’s depression. I hate it.
I hate it that my husband and kids ask, “What’s wrong?” because they say I’m acting strange. I hate it that I’m crying with my kids in the car and have to tell them why… and there is no good reason. I hate that I go to church and spend most of the service praying, “God please let me feel something! Please restore the joy of my salvation!” I hate it that people at church greet me with, “Hi Sheila, how’s it going?” And I automatically respond, “Fine. Thanks,” and hope they don’t inquire more. I hate it that I hide in the bathroom with my hands in my face because I just don’t want to talk to anyone. I hate it that I know the lady sitting next to me is going through hard things and I feel so empty. I want to reach out to her, but feel like I have nothing to give.
It’s depression and I hate it. I hate writing about it. I don’t want to write about it.
But one thing I’ve found to be true: If I bring depression out into the light, if I talk about it, write about, not try to hide it, it becomes my servant and not my master.
Yesterday, the tears hit while I was in the car with my boys. I was staring blankly out the window, the uneasy feeling of nothing matters heavy behind my eyes. Aware that my sons were there in the silence and were silent too. Probably feeling like something’s wrong. I didn’t want them to have to bear the heaviness of their mom’s heaviness so I grabbed my depression by the hand and drug her out into the light.
“Guys, I just want you to know I’m feeling sad the past few days, and I don’t really know why except this happens to me sometimes. It’s just depression. It shows up and I don’t like it and it makes me feel blah and irritable and down in the dumps and sad and I start crying really easy and I just want you guys to know it’s not you. It’s not your fault. It’s not because of you that I feel this way. It’s just a struggle your mom has and God is using even this to make me more like Jesus.”
“Ok mom.” They said in an understanding voice.
I don’t know why so many people experience depression. I’m sure it’s a combination of our sin and other people’s sin and the decomposing world we live in. But it’s a reality. And the more I try to pretend it’s not real and not a struggle, the more I feel ashamed about it and the more it has it’s hold on me. But when I bring it out into the light of the internet, or in a conversation, it looses it’s grip. In the light, I can look at depression through the eyes of my good and sovereign God and see how it’s serving to make me cling to Jesus, be vulnerable with others and have compassion on people with mental illness.
Mental illness effects everyone. If you’re like I was, you might think it doesn’t effect you and you might wonder why I don’t just pull myself up by the bootstraps and press on. I have felt that way many times. And some days I can preach myself right out of a pit. But when depression has hold of me there are no bootstraps to grab. Only light to shine.
I can’t pull myself up, but I can say here on my blog- I’m struggling. I can tell my kids, “Mom’s sad and it’s not your fault.” I can tell the lady at church, “I’m tired.” I can stop hiding this unwanted companion’s presence in my life.
I didn’t want to write about depression today. I wanted to write some uplifting, encouraging message for someone. But maybe someone needs to hear someone else say, stop hiding. Grab depression by the hand and drag her out into the light. Even if she has to come with tears and awkward confessions of, “I’m struggling.” In the light her hopeless whispers may not completely go away, but there in the light, to your need and mine truth can be spoken. In the light we can hear, “Hope in God.”
Christ is a great hope for people who live with depression. And even on days like today when I feel numb, I still go to Christ for life and hope. I still pick up that torn bread and juice of crushed fruit and long for the new life he who walked through hell for me is bringing.
If you’re reading this and you walk a road mostly darkened by depression, I pray you’ll turn to the Man of Sorrows with me. He is our hope. He knows our pain. His words are life. He is with us. We are not alone.
‘ He uncovers the deeps out of darkness and brings deep darkness to light.’ Job 12:22
“…even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. Psalms 139:12
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37-39