I experience depression. There. I’ve said it. It’s not an easy topic to discuss but I believe it is an important one. In my journey towards contentment depression is a significant obstacle and has consumed much of my mental and emotional energy. I have read about it; listened to podcasts discussing it; shared with my inner circle and heard their testimonies related to it; sought counsel from my midwife regarding it. Most of all, I have pored over Scripture and prayed for healing and freedom from this burden. I’ve learned that there are many causes of depression and a range of emotions connected with it, including: shame, sorrow, weariness. However, there is always hope.
I think there are as many types and experiences of depression as there are strains of the flu and it is nearly impossible for anyone to say to someone else, “I know exactly what you are going through.” Depression can be prompted by spiritual trials, physical conditions, chemical imbalances, trauma, loss…and everything in between. It can be as simple as deep gloom for a day or as intense as years of struggling to get out of bed in the morning. Personally, I went through years of depression from my middle school years to early college. After having my first child I experienced a minor case of postpartum depression and ever since I have waves of intense darkness that are rarely predictable. I’ve discovered that it is difficult to talk openly about my experience because I feel:
- Shame. I am a Christian! I love Jesus! I should know better than to believe the lies that bombard my mind and bring me down. I have good health, a loving husband, fantastic children, a beautiful home, friends in abundance. How ungrateful of me to be wallowing in this darkness and despair. There are people genuinely suffering all around me and I have the audacity to be depressed! Shame on me! What will people think of me if they knew? Now they’ll know that I really don’t have it all together all the time.
- Sorrow. Oh! All the missed opportunites for joy when I am stuck in the mire of despair. I am so alone in the cloud and it prevents me from truly absorbing the life that is mine. Depression isolates and it is gut-wrenching to feel so close yet so far away from the ones you adore.
- Weariness. Depression is exhausting. At times I can sense the cloud coming and I do all I can to resist it, but I’m not always successful and the effort to fight wears me down. Other times it consumes without warning and the blanket of despair is so heavy I don’t even want to attempt to push it off of me. In these times, the last thing I want is an onslaught of “you should’s” or “you shouldn’t’s” or “if you only’s.” I hesitate to open up because I don’t want to sound rude or ungrateful or embittered by the lack of understanding. And so I withdraw and battle silently.
That is a glimpse into one side of my depression experience. It’s rough and not pretty. It is the human side of human me. It’s what I don’t want to be the first thing people think about when they see me. I don’t want people to pity me or think that I’m not happy with the life God has entrusted to me. It’s not that at all. The fact remains that I am but dust and in the midst of a beautiful life there is the burden of living for eternity in a temporal world. The struggle of fallen and heavenbound remains. Heavenbound! That is where hope lies and next week I will share how I know I am not truly alone when I experience depression. Every time I come through. Every. Single. Time.
If you have a depression story and feel comfortable sharing, please do!