I was talking with a trusted friend on the topic of depression. This discussion was prompted by a recent Facebook post by a mutual friend that I felt was a bit controversial. I reached out to her to discuss it, before passing judgment.
Our talk helped me to understand his trajectory, but in turn helped her understand mine as well.
As a person who has seen depression rear its ugly head (I hope I said that right), I found so much trouble finding God. I literally went from feeling God use me and move through me to feeling completely abandoned by God. I can’t honestly tell you whether or not depression is of the Devil or not. I cannot tell you whether or not depression is such a dark place that God chooses not to dwell there but, what I will say is that I literally couldn’t feel Him, at all.
I went from holding prayer calls and praying for people to not even being able to utter a word to God on anyone else’s behalf, let alone ask God to heal me. Every time I would try to pray, I would just break down and cry and give up. No words would come out anyway.
So, the idea of “try Jesus” seems so “smoke and mirrors” to me, even as a Christian. Here is why:
Depression is like a linear tunnel. The tunnel has two obvious entrances, the one you came in through and the one that you’re trying to find on the other side. Truthfully, you have no idea how you got into that tunnel. You don’t even know who you are inside that tunnel. It is so dark in there, not even a glimmer of light shines, at all. There is no mirror, no reflection of who you were and glimmer of hope for who you can become. You are just literally stuck in the middle of this tunnel, cold, alone, depressed.
Along comes this person, who doesn’t understand what you’re going through. They think you’re late to work because you just overslept, or your hair is messy because you rushed. You’re skinny because you’re dieting, or you’re gaining a little weight because you’re getting older.
Or maybe you have none of these signs, these outward physical manifestations (there could be so many more). Maybe you have mastered the art of smiling when you want to cry. Maybe you have gotten so good at hiding the pain that you function through it until no one is around and you drown your sorrows.
*Remember: Depression isn’t always sad and gloomy.
So here you are, in your tunnel, and some how, some way, someone figures you out. And they stand there, on the edge of the tunnel giving you tips and pointers on how to get out of that tunnel.
While that seems like they’re being there for your, at least to them, what they don’t realize is that serves you very little, if at all. This is a more self-serving act than it is a solution. If you’ve never been in that tunnel, you wouldn’t understand. But for those of us who have actually dwelled inside that tunnel, we know that it takes a person to come and sit with you inside that tunnel, until you have the strength to get up and walk out.
See, the act of sitting in that tunnel there with that person is truly selfless and it works. It makes a difference. It can sometimes mean the difference between life and death for some. It takes a ton of courage to let someone into that space. Letting the wrong person in, a person who won’t even come in when invited, can truly damage an already depressed person. Or anyone, for that matter.
People who don’t understand, or have never been, depression/depressed think that it’s something that you can snap out of, as if it were a choice to begin with. It is a painful, painful experience for the one who is going through it and the ones who they are closest to. It is not merely a choice, because if it were, I would just choose my way out of it.
So, if you know a person who is battling depression and/or anxiety and you don’t truly know how to help them, be very careful of how you’re helping and what you’re doing and saying. Do some research, ask questions. But most importantly, listen to them and fully be there for them – in the way that they need. If you can’t (because this take some expert level fortitude) find someone who can. Advocate for that person, because right now, they are not in a position to advocate for themselves.
Depression can be beat, but it takes a ton of work and you have to be active in the process. It is definitely doable, I know because I am still here.