It’s a place no one wants to be. Sobbing uncontrollably on the floor. Knowing I couldn’t do it myself, but begging God to make it stop or just let me die. The feeling of the carpet on my knees. I even remember watching classic anti-depressant commercials saying “depression hurts” and thinking – no shit! I felt so violated.
It’s almost like – in fact it’s exactly like – trauma. Depression took me to the ground over and over again. I begged for it to stop. I said no as loud as my breathy cries would let me. But the sadness would not go away. It felt like my sense of self was violated in a way I could never get back. Stained, raped, and ruined.
And I know this description may sound extreme, or dramatic, but that’s exactly what depression is. A scrappy relentless animal. It fights hard and doesn’t give up. And even when we think we have it beat, it comes back for round two, three, four, or more… It’s been several years since I’ve faced depression of this magnitude, but I remember it like it was yesterday.
So what if we tell ourselves not to be depressed? To watch out for sadness and beat it off with a womping stick before it gets too close. To guard our happy with thankfulness, kindness, servitude, and even busyness. It works sometimes. But what happens when it doesn’t? When the sad creeper comes and camps out in your brain despite your best efforts to keep his nasty at bay. If you are like me you feel defeated, alone, confused, not good enough, and violated all over again.
So what does work? If we can’t beat it off or busy ourselves out of it, what helps us in the moments when sadness seems like too much? I’ll tell you what works for me. And it sounds silly and oversimplified…but it works.
Drop the rope.
Drop the rope and stop fighting it.
It’s often the fear that depression will get TOO bad that takes us from sad to miserable. We borrow trouble from past experience and drag it willingly into the present and future. But here’s the thing. It doesn’t fit there. So instead of kicking into full fledged panic when we feel sad what if we just learned to accept it for what it is. Not making it bigger or smaller. Not tugging it closer or smacking at it in attempts to make it go away. Just letting it be what it is.
I’m not saying depression doesn’t hurt. We all know that it does. What I’m saying is that we don’t have to make it go away or never struggle with it again to live life. Depression can ebb and flow and you can keep on going. It may be a part of you but it doesn’t have to define you.
And where does Jesus fit in all of this? Right smack dab in the middle. He came to heal the lame and set the captive free, but He did not come to squash and extinguish all of our negative emotions. Jesus wept. Jesus got angry. Jesus felt. And He allows us to feel too. He gives us freedom to experience, hurt, learn, grow. To find joy in the MIDST of sadness. Joy that knows who God is even when we feel violated on the floor. Joy that says God is good and I accept this pain knowing it likely has purpose. That with God, pain is and will be okay.
Depression is tough. But so are you. You don’t have to be violated. You can welcome it for what it is, and at the same time know Gods got this. Soon enough, you will rejoice.