From past experiences, I learned that waiting for depression to go away on its own doesn’t happen. If left neglected, it gets worse over time. After a sleepless night, I called the doctor’s office and made an appointment for that afternoon. The kids came with me; while I spoke to the doctor, they sat outside the office door eating snacks and playing on their tablets.
Having depression is not obvious: appearances and demeanor can be misleading. To others you seem to be doing okay externally; you’re smiling, functioning, and not visibly in pain. Talking about it is not easy: it’s not the best conversation starter and there is always the lingering fear that people will not like you or avoid you because of it.
“You are so brave and quiet. I forget you’re suffering.”
I tell myself that everyone gets depressed at one time or another, but does that mean I need to see a doctor about it? I don’t feel like my usual self, but is it bad enough to take medication? How can you differentiate between regular sadness or something more? Isn’t it reasonable to feel this bad after all that’s happened recently? BUT I don’t have time for this; get over it will you!!, I tell myself.
I wonder why I need to justify it to myself or someone else. It doesn’t need to be a confession (wise words from a professor referring to a childhood memory of meeting my parents at four years old, but her words seem relevant in this case too). Why can’t I accept it as part of my story and my reality??
One step at a time. Life is not perfect but living it well is my wish. God doesn’t abandon me when I’m hurting; He draws me closer. I’m thankful God’s grace covers me when I’m feeling this way. All the condemnation, that I’m a bad believer, a sell out, a weak person, is not from God but from the enemy telling lies. What a time to actively listen for God’s affirming words and his promises by reading the Bible. I’ve been reading it a lot lately.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
Going through this so early in January is a wake-up call. This year I need and want to intentionally focus on living slow. All this constant internal pressure to do more and stay busy deflates me. I want to find contentment in this space of ours and stop reaching for what I think I “should” do. So cliche but true: quality over quantity.
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming “of it.”
– Helen Keller