This past Monday, I felt the overwhelming urge to repost the link to an old column of mine called “My Depression”. I can’t explain why this urge manifested or why I gave in, but I can’t deny the gratefulness I feel for doing so. I’m grateful because not only was I able to share my own battle with depression with those who have only recently started reading my work, but it was a reminder for myself and those who struggle with their own war against depression. This was never more evident than in the scads of emails, comments, and @replies I received once the link had been up for a few moments. But what shook me most wasn’t the grace and support that was bestowed upon me by so many of you—although I deeply appreciate it—it was those who found the courage to reach out and share their own strife with depression and even asking for guidance in dealing with their burden. It was moving.
Today, I write for them.
I wish I could say all the right things to each of you that struggle with depression—but that’s impossible. Some of you won’t read past this paragraph because you know that if you do, you’re acknowledging an issue that has haunted you for some time, and you think acknowledging that heavy demon will give it power.
Others of you are searching over these words, aching for some scrap of beautiful light so that you can keep from drowning into the darkness for just one more day. A reader known only as Lady T said it plainly but powerful when she commented, “Battling depression is a full time job.” She couldn’t have been more right.
The truth is that I know what you’re going through. I’ve been where you are and where you’ll be. I’ve put that gun in my mouth and wish for the courage to pull the trigger. I’ve abused those little white pills, becoming numb enough to avoid feeling the grief that plagued me. Is my depression more potent or dangerous than yours? I don’t know. Does it matter? No.
Today, I write to ask you to seek the help you need.
It’s daunting to consider sharing your dirty little secret with someone you know (family, friends, church family, etc). What if they judge you? What if they pity you? Even worse: what if they don’t believe you and simply shrug off your difficult effort at sharing your heart? Baring your soul in an attempt to gain help isn’t easy, but it is worth it. I hope you can understand that. I hope you can believe that I write these words for your benefit; for your survival.
For reasons I can’t explain, the Church and its members generally frown upon the discussion and exploration of depression. I suppose it’s because we Christians are supposed to have the joy of the Lord within our hearts so being “sad” doesn’t quite compute. But we Christians are people too, and we’re hurting. Yes, you may be scolded and yes, you may be frowned upon for sharing the battle you face every single day, but is that any worse than fighting for your sanity and salvation alone, day after day after day? I can’t imagine so.
If you’re depressed, find someone to talk to. It may not be possible to speak with your parents about it, but find a way to share what you’re going through. Admitting to what you’re facing is the first step in lifting that heavy burden that weighs in your chest and makes your eyes water for no reason. I wish I could make you believe me. I wish I could make you see.
Nothing is easy about admitting being depressed. And yet, you aren’t weak for it. You are literally dealing with something you can’t control on your own. I know you feel alone and I know you think keeping it to yourself is the best, but you are wrong.
Share your burden. Talk about your struggle. Find a parent or pastor or youth leader, anyone that you think will take your effort at seeking help seriously. Because the truth is that if you keep trying to face all of this alone, you may find yourself not being able to survive much longer.
The world needs you and your light. You have something to offer. It took me a long time to realize that. I hope you discover the same thing sooner than I did.
You are loved and you are worthy of surviving. Talk with someone. Make the choice to be better.
I swear to you that you’ll be glad you did.