Recently my church did a series on depression. Our pastor asked members to share their experiences with depression. Below is a piece I wrote and sent to him. It helps explain my cocooning for the past two years a bit and my rise toward the sunlight more so than ever now…perhaps you can relate? Hugs if so!
Depression? I know it well. The dark tide that ebbs and flows through life washing over days, weeks and sometimes months. It’s sticky tentacles wrapping between thoughts pulling you down and making footprints into lines dragging through moments. My grandfather, my mother, my sister, myself. Depression spreads from family member to family member. As far back as I can remember, it’s shadow has come to visit me from time to time. This past year it’s presence more frequent than years before.
Before, I would wallow in the darkness of it. Wandering library aisles looking for suicide plans. Plotting…dreaming…wishing I were really brave enough to make it stop. Feeling alone. Different than others. The negative voices whispering louder and louder. Always. Always, though there was a seed of light within my soul that, while it sputtered in those dark times struggling to stay lit, it fought to shine. An often unknown source of breath would blow in and fan the light to grow and the darkness would fade away once again. I was an upbeat, forward thinking, life loving person most of the time. Each time determined that that this visit from depression would be the last. I’ve learned much since those early years…
I’ve learned the genetics matter. My mother’s family is mired in depression. I inherited it from her as much as I have my thick hair and freckles. It is part of me and always will be. My father’s family is alight with love and grace. That is a part of me as well. The two forces tug back and forth.
I’ve learned that kindness breaks the hold. I’ve broken down sobbing in places one blushes to do so….yoga class, the grocery store, at stoplights, in the dentist chair, while reading an advent prayer at church recently…. Each time a kind soul noticed, comforted me, held me, cared for me. The darkness runs then. To know that I am not alone makes a difference. I’m so thankful for those people who didn’t turn away when it was easy to.
I’ve learned that reaching out to others matters. Noticing the silence, tears or distant look of another and reaching a hand out to help turns depression away. Depression does not like company especially with someone who has looked it in the eye and and can link arms with you in battle. Each act of kindness is a seed that blooms into light.
I’ve learned depression visits many. Speaking up, sharing my story from the heart, asking for help…each step in those directions is often met with meeting others who have been traveling beside me invisible in the fog. Truth is there are many, many, many of us on this road totally unaware of just how not alone we are. Speaking out from our vulnerability is powerful.
What I learned 4 years ago was THE key. It’s the one thing that depression has no chance against. When it begins to weave into my thoughts, it’s what I cling to and am lifted every time to the light again. My faith. Four years ago I discovered the truth I had been missing all my life. That Jesus was real. That he really did live and he really did die. For me. Cliche but true…that changed everything!! Everything. I know that depression is as much a part of me as my blue eyes are but now I know that it doesn’t have a hold on me any longer. When I slip, as I have this month, into moments of worry, I turn my eyes above and ask for His help and like a knight galloping in, He arrives and chases it away. I know I have nothing to fear, nothing to worry about, nothing to lose. He will provide for me, love me, protect me and guide me. Always. No matter what. Before depression would visit and settle in for lengthy stays. This past year, while it has tried to visit often, it’s visit are scant. Evaporating quickly and the light returning brighter and brighter. Praise God!
I’ve also learned the my depression along with the patchwork of challenges that is the quilt of my journey are gifts. They teach me lessons I could not learn otherwise. They give me my unique vantage point from which I can help others because I understand. Deeply understand, to my core, what it feels like to be buried in the dark sure I could never rise from my covers again. I get it. I get them and through my wounds, God can use me to heal others. I am blessed indeed!