*CONTENT ALERT: Depression, suicide
Like so many of you, I have battled depression and anxiety. And truthfully, I continue to battle them. I’m a little terrified to be putting this blog post up, but I’ve prayed about it and feel I should. (The italic text is a brief excerpt from my book, from a chapter called Corpse Alive.)
From afar a light shines
Parched ground underneath
Cracks of dust reach further
Than I can see
Shards of clay surround
And fail to cut through the mire
The sun may shine
But not for me
Burning and burning
But I cannot feel anything anymore
Along the horizon
What shimmering madness
The gentle showers or
The coming storm to drown me
Dry bones dancing
If only for a moment
Suspended in air and time
Worlds tilt and gather
What it feels like
I have wanted to be dead. Numerous times. It’s not something I’m proud of. It’s not something I ever really wanted anyone to know. But it is true. Depression has haunted me from as far back as I can remember. As a child I learned to push down pain, sadness, and hurt because that was the only way I could cope with life. Only thing is, the pain didn’t go away. It festered. It grew. It started to poison me. It leaked out when I was about sixteen…
I think I had casually mentioned to someone that I had contemplated driving my car over the mesa not far from my house. This kind of thought process seemed normal to me. I figured everyone had the same profound blackness in their lives. I got counseling briefly and tried some St. John’s wort. It seemed to help a bit, and there were helpful things my therapist said to me that have stuck with me to this day.
But then I moved away for college and got caught up in other important activities. I never dug down far enough to really get to the bottom of the dark depths. So the poison kept slowly leaking into me. I had lived with it for so long but had learned at a young age that no one wants to really be around a depressed person, so I had gotten frighteningly good at putting on a brave face and going on with life—with school, with friends, even with ministry. I even fooled myself for a couple of years that I could live with the blackness and just work around it. It is miraculous and a total story of God’s power that I have never actually attempted to take my own life. I didn’t really want to muster the strength to do it, so I just prayed silently that it would happen somehow on its own. Death.
Fantasizing about death is no way to live. I mean, I lived . . . God even used me and worked through me in lots of ways in people’s lives all around the world during those dark years. He uses me still in times when the blackness threatens to overtake me again. Some would say that because I fight depression I don’t have enough faith, because otherwise I would have been “totally healed” by now. Others would call me irresponsible for choosing to fight depression un-medicated; still others would call me faithless for the times when I did fight depression with pharmaceuticals. But one thing they can’t call me is dead.
Dear friend (may I be so bold as to call you friend?)… Christ is everything to me. He is the breath in my soul. He is what keeps me alive. He is who made me alive. Without Him, I would not be able to go on living. I’m not sure what it says about me that I have wanted to die. I’m not sure what it says about me that I continue to battle depression while yet clinging to Christ as my one hope. I hope that is ok.
I can’t get through this journey without you, friend. I need you to be there for me. I need you to just be silently present with me in my dark moments. I need you to speak truth in love to me when I am able to hear it. I need you to not forget about my struggle during the stretches of time that I seem fine. Because for me, depression may always be lurking around the corner, waiting for my next low moment to try to swoop in and “rescue” me. I might need you to stand by my side and storm the gates for me in the times I can’t. I hope that is ok.
Father God… there are many of us who love You and fight these demons. Help us to draw from Your strength to keep going. Hold us up as we battle the enemy. Help us to know who the real enemy is. Remind us that You have overcome the darkness, that You are the light, the way, the truth… that You are life. Father, I need you. I need to trust You more than I do. I am so weak. I hope that is ok.
I begged the Lord three times to liberate me from its anguish; and finally He said to me, “My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. My power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9, The VOICE)