Depression is not a state of mind.
It’s a whole body experience.
In the wake of the heartbreaking death of Robin Williams it seems time to acknowledge the silent pain that lives among us.
Time to fight back against the whispered lies that those who suffer lack the willpower to get better. Lack the skills to just show up and choose joy.
Sorrow is the other side of the coin. You cannot have joy if you don’t know sorrow. One of my favorite writers, Kahlil Gibran states it more beautifully than I ever could: “Sorrow carves the heart to contain more joy.”
I believe it is true. I cling to it in my times of sorrow.
We look at Robin Williams, a man who brought us all so much joy. From his movies and comedy to his goodwill toward those serving in our military, he was a joy bearer. A man gutted by despair held hands so intimately with this thing we call joy.
I know that story. It’s a story that lives in me and my generational line. I lost my uncle and my grandmother to depression and suicide.
I look back and see two inspirational and remarkable people. Two people who lived life and lived it full and well when they could. Who brought and bore so much joy. Beautiful on the outside, deep troubled waters on the inside. I am them.
I encourage others because I need it so desperately myself. Glennon once wrote, “Those who need help look a lot like people who don’t need help.”
Far too often our greatest encouragers and life lovers are hurting deeply. The pain of life has carved a well so deep that nothing can fill. The whys and what-fors aren’t as important as the deep soul ache.
And it doesn’t make sense to anyone who hasn’t felt it. It doesn’t make sense in the midst of it, and yet it is so painfully true and real and there seems no hope.
And so we try to fill the well.
We fill it with everything we can think of including the faith and truth of our redeemer God. Those who are depressed haven’t wandered from Christ. We simply cannot feel Him, see Him or find Him in this moment.
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as choosing joy.
Sometimes the wave needs to roll and we ride it the best way we know how.
And in the aftermath of a suicide we talk cheaply about life.
We hear critical judgments about choice and whispered conclusions about death. But I believe in a God who doesn’t look at things the way I do. A God who He sees and knows the heart. Who hears the desperate cries or the silent tears of our pain.
I believe He understands what we cannot begin to comprehend about depression and mental illness and, despite our feeble attempts at understanding the unknowable and making conclusions about eternity, I am bearing on the side of grace.
I’m putting my bet on mercy.
He said, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
People who suffer with depression are intimately acquainted with unrest. When the enemy is outside your home you can lock the door, set the alarm, close the curtains and find some semblance of peace. But when the you have found the enemy, and it is you, the story is different. Rest is not so easy.
Because in the midst of the battle is the knowledge that the lies are not true. But they’re so loud. The connection between truth and hope is broken.
But here’s the thing that I can’t help but shake. Here’s the thing that I’m learning and processing and believing to be true: there is redemption in this seeming brokenness.
Depression doesn’t make you broken. Perhaps it is the very thing that brings you to light.
Maybe it makes you unbroken.
Strong enough to let the reality of this life break us so that we can fully surrender to Him and not our own foolish strength.
We were made to grow.
A few short years ago I admired people who seemed to have it all together. The ones who could throw their head back and laugh. Who seemed to have “made it” or had that elusive thing we call success. Now, I admire the ones who know they don’t. I connect so much deeper with the ones who, by the standards of this world, are broken.
Because I believe we can only grow when we know we’re not yet where we need to be. When we believe we’re good and life is fine and we just “are who we are” then somehow we’ve become hard. In some way we’ve denied our truth. In a sense, we’ve become unbreakable.
And God can only work with us, and in us, and through us when we’re willing to be broken to the things and ways of this world…so that He can rebuild us to match the heart of His. So that He can mold us to Him.
We live in a time where the world is so dark. How can we not feel broken? How can we not be depressed? Women and children suffering and dying in every corner of our world for the sake of sin. Arrogance. Selfish ambition. Pride.
God please, break us.
It’s so incredibly painful and I’m learning it’s a lifelong work. It’s my lifelong work.
Just when I think I’ve crested one mountain I see another one rising in the distance. Sometimes I get so discouraged. Sometimes I feel like I’m not learning the lesson because the destination never comes. I never stay on the top of that peak long enough to get comfortable. Long enough to feel like I’m not broken.
But maybe that’s the point. Maybe that’s when we know we’re doing it right. When the tests get bigger and the peaks higher and the cliffs steeper.
Maybe being broken isn’t so bad. Maybe those cracks are the spaces where we let the light in…because we have learned enough to know we cannot turn them on ourselves. Perhaps being broken and finding we’re not broken is the greatest gift of all.
Let’s be women willing to be broken so that someday, someway, we can finally break free. If you struggle with depression and feel like you’re alone, you’re not. There is help. Have the courage to reach out and ask for help. Call: (1-800-273-TALK (8255)).