When you hear the word, what do you think? Do you wonder what exactly it is? Does the word make you feel uncomfortable or maybe even annoyed? Do you think of someone specifically? Do you maybe think of yourself?
I have struggled with depression my entire life. Even when I was twelve years old, laying in my bed, feeling so insanely sad that I couldn’t move. Sometimes, I didn’t even know why.
I have been battling this issue since I can remember. It was with me in middle school, then hit me like a train in high school. Even a few days ago I was feeling it.
I have always been confused about how to feel about my depression. Do I hide it because I am ashamed? Do I tell every single person I know that I have it so that maybe I can be a little more understood? Do I hide in my room all day and not process anything, so that maybe these wretched feelings will cease?
I couldn’t figure out how to handle my depression … but I definitely knew I had it.
After years of wondering how I should feel about my depression, struggling with who to tell (or if I should tell no one at all), I have realized this: depression should not be kept in the dark.
We live in a society where people can easily feel a need to put on a fake front that they’re perfectly okay. Sometimes, though, it’s the exact opposite. Teens and even some adults have started glorifying sickness and pain, in order to seek attention. When people use it for attention, it causes the people who actually need to be heard out to end up being shut out because they are viewed as just another one of “those”. But, there has to be a balance to this chaos. People have to start speaking out, in a healthy way.
Now, I am not saying walk up to people you know will judge you and tell them your deepest darkest secrets. Trust me, I have been down that road too; trusting every single person that I come in contact with. Sometimes, they weren’t always looking out for me…and then I have gotten really hurt. Matthew 7:6 says, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
So then what am I saying?
I am saying this: people need to know they are not alone. That is why I want to talk about the topic of depression for the next few weeks, to comfort someone. I have noticed that sometimes in the church or as Christians, we don’t think we are allowed to struggle or be negative. But God tells you to come as you are regardless of your current circumstance; not put on a mask and show the world what you wish you were. God still sees exactly who you are and the sooner you’re willing to admit who you are as well, the sooner you can move forward.
This stigma, that struggling with depression makes you weak, needs to be out casted. We allow so many irrelevant people to waltz right into our lives and tell us who we are. Because we haven’t found ourselves yet, we believe every single thing they say. We don’t even think for ourselves. We hear a negative label slapped on us and we let that sink in deep and define us. If you were made in the image of Christ and He is perfect, don’t you think He knew what He was doing when He created you? We have to start embracing our unique gifts and our struggles.
Life is hard enough as is. You have to be fighting for yourself and your joy in a world full of sadness and corruption constantly. There have been moments in my life where I have felt people judging me because I have depression as if I am not as strong as them. But someone today needs to be told that if you struggle with depression THAT IS NOT TRUE.
I believe it is quite the opposite. If you push daily through depression, consider yourself a fighter. Every day you are waking up and willing to conquer another day, and for some people, even that can be hard. More people need to know that it is okay to feel and to hurt; that you aren’t “messed up”. We all have the things we struggle with, and just because your’s may be a little more visible, that doesn’t mean hundreds of people around you aren’t struggling with the exact same thing.
More people need to know that they have a safe place. I want to help be that safe place for someone to start to understand a little bit more about what they may be going through. When I was going through my darkest days ever with my depression, I told no one. I didn’t want to be the weak link. I didn’t want to be viewed differently. It wasn’t until after I had been through an insane amount of pain that I was willing to admit to my family, and my best friend, what had occurred and what I had done. But sometimes, we need to understand that those close people in our lives wouldn’t have judged us in the first place if we would’ve come to them about it and been willing, to be honest about where we were at mentally and emotionally.
My whole life the devil has fed me the same lie: no one will ever understand my depression and my loneliness. I believe he did this to make me feel as small and as cornered as I possibly could so that I would cast myself out so badly that NO one could reach me, therefore making no one able to pour into me and be a light. Don’t doubt that someone is able to speak positivity into your life. Some of the people who have had the greatest impact on my life have not walked in the same shoes I have or have the same story as me at all. But they have been used as a mouthpiece to pour into me.
Whether you’re the person going through the depression, or you’re the friend, mother, spouse, teacher or even the coach of someone going through depression; don’t be afraid to speak out. We can’t call people out, but we can care for them.
Next week I want to talk about how to tackle situations in our lives that cause us to feel depressed. It is important when struggling with depression to help yourself out as much as possible. Having depression is enough as is. I want to look at how God wants to partner with us in order to help us succeed in the plans He has for us and moves forward.
Make sure you don’t miss any of Madi’s posts! Sign up here to receive them directly into your email box!