I have a dark companion called depression that visits from time to time and won’t say good riddance and go away. Sometimes it stays too long, once for well over a year. Sometimes it stays for a brief visit. I hope this time it’s brief. When depression visits me, it comes with its entourage of dark clouds, negative thoughts and lies, heavy emotions and fears. For me, the triggers are usually stress-related. There are people who can eat stress for a snack and rise to the occasion. I’m not one of them.
Having a good friends and families network doesn’t keep it away. Neither does a degree in theology, nor spiritual disciplines of confession and repentance. There’s undoubtedly something wrong with me, just like Romans 7 describes, and it humbles me, it shows me how broken I am, and it evokes in me greater empathy for other people’s struggles and battles.
When depression stops by for a visit, it sure gets my attention. It clouds my thinking and it feels like drowning just to stay alert. It takes enormous effort to do 1 or 2 tasks a day. When the forecast is overcast, just showing up is winning half the battle.
Experts have said that depression is “anger turned inward.” I’m not an angry person. I don’t express my rage explosively against people around me. This made no sense to me until recently. Depression is my version of taking my anger out on myself. I can get angry at the world for being imperfect. I can get angry at myself for not being what I wish I could be. I can get angry at unmet expectations, unrealistic goals, and untimely interruptions. I get angry over not being more driven, more accomplished, more clear-headed on tasks, more focused. Call it an idol or a natural disposition of my heart, but I can’t easily get rid of it by mere confession. Unlike others, I don’t run from depression by going to addictions or accomplishments.
When depression visits, it usually brings a big life lesson with it. Lessons like: take better care of yourself. Humbly ask for help. I can’t do it alone. Life is good, it’s not so serious. Enjoy a good night’s sleep. Write it down and stop thinking so hard. God loves you just the way you are, not as you should be. Do what you’re good at and what you enjoy, nothing more, nothing less. I just wish those lessons could come without having to go through those dark tunnels.
Thanks be to God that this world is not all there is, and He’ll make good on my yearning for a better world. And God will give me the grace and strength to be a part of that better world.
Plus, just found out that Pastor Tommy Nelson of Denton Bible Church (also a Dallas Seminary alumni) had a recent bout with depression, and lived to tell about it at a DTS Chapel (video and audio) and on FamilyLife Today and the impact of depression on a marriage.
[Caveat: depression is a complicated manner, so my story is not gospel. Please seek appropriate help if needed.]
[update 10/10] blogger Real Live Preacher eloquently shared about his bouts with depression too– Depression Part One: Admitting You Might Have a Problem, Thoughts on Depression After Five Months of Medication, and several other times