The only word that comes close to explaining the realities of depression.
Depression has been my silent and invisible killer for 8 years now. I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression at the unfairly young age of fourteen and was put on two anti-depressants. Since then, there have been seasons of my life where depression seems to decide to leave me alone, but for the most part, it’s been more consistent than a friend.
Disclaimer: this post is from my perspective only, so it may vary person to person. This is just my personal experience with depression.
1. We’re tired. Always.
And that’s the reality: I’m tired. Constantly. Physically. Emotionally. Mentally. Spiritually. Tired.
I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of being sad for no apparent reason. I’m tired of having little quality of life because my happiness is so fleeting. I’m tired of being in bed because I lack the mental and physical capacity to get out. I’m tired of the lies that seep into my mind and make their home there. I’m tired of depression being seemingly close and God seeming painfully far. I’m just tired.
2. The smallest things in the world become the biggest.
Something that those without depression may not understand, but the smallest things in the world can make us spiral. They may seem small to someone else, but to us, they’re huge.
When we start to believe a lie about who we are.
When something goes differently than what we were expecting.
When someone is upset at us.
When we see or hear something that triggers us.
The things that are normal to those without depression can be hell to someone with it.
For someone living with depression, even getting in the car to pick up a quick item from Target can feel like hell. I walked around the store this morning picking up a few basic necessities and felt weak, numb, and exhausted. It took the life out of me. I felt like I was suffocating. And as soon as I was able to come home and sit back on my couch with my cozy blanket and favorite pillow, I felt like I could breathe again. And this is the reality of living with depression.
3. I either feel everything incredibly deeply or don’t feel anything at all. There’s no in-between.
Anyone who’s ever felt it before knows that being numb is one of the worst feelings in the world, but most times the person with depression has to choose between either being numb or feeling deeply. Both are scary, and I beg God more days than not to just let me feel normal. I don’t want to feel deeply and I don’t want to feel nothing at all. I just want to feel normal. Feeling deeply is exhausting and feeling nothing is terrifying, but it seems impossible to have a middle ground.
4. We shut down. Quite easily & quite frequently.
I don’t know the science behind it (or even if there is science behind it), but it’s much easier for us than those without depression to shut down. It’s our natural coping mechanism when something triggers us. We recognize when it’s happening, but we don’t know how to get out of it. We feel paralyzed. One small trigger can result in a massive shut down, so we require much grace and patience as we try to feel human again. Most of the time all we need is time.
5. Shame is a constant voice we hear.
It’s exhaustingly easy for a Christian to feel shame for struggling with depression.
“We have all we need in Christ, so what’s there to be depressed about, right?” “We just need to have faith in God and our depression will go away, right?” “Maybe I’m just not praying hard enough.” “Am I doing something wrong to have to struggle with depression?” “Is God punishing me?”
All lies we have to fight fiercely hard to not believe.
6. We don’t need to be reminded to have joy in the Lord & we don’t need to be reminded that joy is a choice.
We know. We’re trying.
When I was younger and didn’t know the Lord, depression was a hell of a lot harder to manage. I coped by self harming and attempting suicide more times than I can count. But now that I know Christ and am walking in the Spirit rather than flesh, I recognize that I have access to fullness of joy despite circumstance, and can cope in healthy ways such as seeking professional help, worshiping, praying, and being in the Word.
But joy is a battle and it seems as if we have to fight with our lives to even come near to it. Where others may find joy easy, for us, it’s one of the biggest challenges we could ever face. We’re already exhausted, so it’s so much easier for us to stay in our depression even though it’s the last thing we want.
7. Honestly, we’re just trying to survive.
We can’t even take it day by day, we have to take it moment by moment. Depression makes us have to fight for our will to live. Our will to eat. Our will to drink water. Our will to get out of bed. Our will to even shower at times.
We’re really just trying to survive, and some days are much harder than others.
We need all the grace we can get.
If you’re a Christian with depression:
My sweet friend, I see you. I see your struggle. I see your exhaustion. I see your tired eyes and weary spirit. I see it because I feel it too. But please keep fighting. Please keep holding on. It’s not fair and it’s not easy, but I promise, it’s so worth it. Your life is worth living.
Please never forget the victory you have in Christ.
Deuteronomy 20:4 says “For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”
See that? It says “For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you.” It doesn’t say He goes for you, it says He goes with you. Meaning you’re not fighting alone, but you still need to fight. But never forget: every war waged against you, He’s already won. He rose victorious so you can share in His victory.
“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,” – Ephesians 2:6
Immerse yourself in scripture.
Hope is found there.
Joy is found there.
Freedom is found there.
Healing is found there.
Peace is found there.
Take care of yourself.
Take antidepressants if need be.
Eat even if you don’t feel like it.
Drink waters & lots of it.
Go on walks.
Put your phone down & read a book instead.
My friend, you have to take care of yourself too.
Worship even when you don’t feel like it.
We cannot allow our awe of God be dependent upon our feelings. He is worthy of all of our worship, not just our “when I feel like it” worship. My friend, remember that it’s hard to worry when we’re worshiping.
Change your perspective.
“What is God showing me through this?” rather than “Why is this happening to me?”
Taking the focus off of yourself and placing it on God and others is one of the most healing things you can do for your depression. Don’t let yourself sink into depression because your only focus is yourself. We’re not meant to live that way.
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” – Colossians 3:2
Be kind to yourself.
Show yourself grace.
Give yourself room for error.
You’re already fighting so much, you don’t need to fight yourself too.
It’s ok to do things that make you happy.
Sit in the sunshine.
Get that ice cream.
Buy those shoes.
Get your hair done.
Never allow yourself to feel shame for doing things that make you happy, but remember happiness in worldly treasures is fleeting. Joy in Jesus is eternal.
God is still in the business of healing.
Have faith in that. Believe in that. There is hope, there is healing, and there is freedom in Christ and Christ alone. Maybe healing comes from therapy. That’s ok. Maybe healing comes from antidepressants. That’s ok. Maybe healing comes from a miracle. That’s ok. But don’t give up hope that healing is possible, because my sweet friend, the Lord wants to see you healed and set free from the bondage of depression.
If you’re a Christian without depression:
Please have a little extra grace for those with it. We don’t need you to understand what we’re going through, we just want support from you.
Ask us what we need.
Don’t ever assume.
Sometimes we need to be held.
Sometimes we need a safe person to cry with.
Sometimes we need to go out and do something that makes us happy.
Just ask. Don’t assume.
Be gentle with us.
We’re already waging war with ourselves and we’re already much harsher than need be with ourselves, so we don’t need it from you too. Please be as gentle as you can as we figure out how to cope.
Be there for us & let us know you’re fighting with us.
Send us an encouraging text to let us know you’re thinking of us.
Take us out for coffee.
Be intentional with us.
Pray for us.
And please, please don’t give up on us.
We need you to fight with us too.
We can’t do it alone.
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.”
– Psalm 30:11