Descending Into Darkness
Depression is a reality for millions of people around the world and very possibly for you or someone you love. Those who struggle with depression don’t like to talk about it with friends and heaven forbid actually get help from a stranger. Depression is sneaky. It never just pops up overnight, it slowly covers you like sunset shadows. You don’t realize how much it has affected you until darkness hinders your daily life. If you fight depression, you know exactly what I mean.
I know this because I struggle with depression. Last year my life was going pretty well from all external accounts. My three teenage kids were doing fine, my marriage to my beautiful wife Kathi was strong, church was going good, yet I found myself in a dark place. There wasn’t any one single event that caused my decent into darkness, I just ended up there and it was hard. One particularly gray and gloomy day I stood in front of my bathroom mirror and had a conversation with myself. I asked myself if I were giving advice to someone struggling with depression, what would I tell them? The conversation I had with myself went like this:
“Are you struggling with depression John?”
“John, are you exercising, eating right, and getting enough rest?”
“Yes, for the most part.”
“Have you shared how you feel with your close friends and wife?”
“Yes, I have shared with others.”
“Then have you considered seeing a doctor who might be able to help you get through this?”
I answered “No, I have not seen a doctor. Admitting my depression to a doctor would be very humbling.”
“So pride is what is keeping you from getting help?”
I had to admit that my own pride was keeping me from taking the next step. So I prayed, asked God to forgive me, and made an appointment to see my doctor. At my appointment I confessed my feelings of darkness and shared that I don’t want to feel “blah” every day. She told me that my feelings were common and some people need to have medication to help our bodies compensate for whatever its lacking that causes feelings of chronic depression. So she gave me a prescription for antidepressants, and I have been taking them ever since. I am not sure if I will be on them forever, but they have helped me wrestle my way back out of the darkness I felt perpetually cloaked in. I am also eating right, exercising, and connecting with others about my emotional state on a regular basis.
Depression is a form of mental illness. Suffering with a mental illness forces me to look past my present circumstances and cling to the eternal inheritance every believer will receive.
If you are battling depression right now, get the help you need to fight back. You may need to have a conversation with yourself like I did. You may have to change your diet, start exercising, or lower your stress. You may need to open up to a friend, see a professional counselor, or visit a medical doctor. The Psalmist writes:
“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. 2 He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. 3 He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:1-3
Scripture tells us that we can and should always turn to God in our times of need. If you are fighting depression, turn to God and ask him for your next steps to help you fight back. There is nothing to be ashamed of, get the help you need. When I look back over my life it was in my darkest hours when I often felt the closest to Christ. Why? Because when Jesus is all you have that is when you realize that Jesus is all you need. And it’s in these times that I feel an immense sense of security anchored in the grace of God. You can have that same security by trusting God to help you fight your battles right now.