Hello and welcome to this blog about depression/sorrow. I say sorrow because I don’t want to take the word depression and misuse it. I was never diagnosed, and I do not want to use the word flippantly. But this is really is a topic that I feel needs to address. I hope that you can somehow relate. I hope that in some way, you feel the love of God through my words. I know this is a serious topic. I do not take it lightly. And to be honest with you, this is the first time I have spoken about it. With that said, know that I am not doing so for views on this page, or for attention. I am doing so because I have realized, very recently actually that my words matter, and have the capability to make a difference. I won’t keep silent just because I am fearful someone may view me a different way afterwards. So, please, read on, and maybe something that comes out will be good for your heart or mind.
I have struggled with some sort of depression since 2014. Though I didn’t speak about it at all, you could have asked anyone around me, anyone in my life would have told you that they thought I was depressed… or, something was off. I changed drastically. My mom asked me several times to go to a doctor. I remember. But I didn’t. My pride for sure had a grip on me. (Still trying to get rid of that.)
However, this year, has been one where I seem to fluctuate – in and out of it. But, for some odd reason, that seems to be even harder than when it was 24/7. But through this, I have learned several things. I want to share them with you. Solely because I hope they will help you if this is something you have dealt with, or are dealing with currently.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I am a human who has been hurt and I struggle. I am not God. And after reading this, please take all I said to Him. Pour your heart and emotions and troubles out to Him. And though I struggled and still struggle, I know there are many who deal with this on an even more intense level and I want to tell you that I know all of our lives are very different, take all I say with a grain of salt, but please know that my heart behind every word typed is love. Pure love and hope that you will gain something from this. And if anyone reading this needs to talk more in depth about this topic – please email us.
1.) YOU’RE MISUNDERSTOOD, WHICH MAY CAUSE MISUNDERSTANDING, BUT YOU OR YOUR PROBLEMS ARE NOT INVALID.
Dang. I go through this daily still. It hurts to be misunderstood. When you try to explain your thoughts, or circumstances and you get a blank look back from someone, or an ear unwilling to listen. I know. It sucks. Listen. I hate misunderstanding. It is the worst. It is two people who intend good but for some reason miss the other person’s good intention. However, just because you are misunderstood by someone doesn’t mean you ought to minimize your own struggles. I know, I get it… I do. We all want so badly for someone to look at us in the eyes, and not just nod and smile back, but LISTEN, and GRIEVE with us. We want community. And that is NOT bad. Offen, when I would try and pour my heart out to a friend or family member, I would get the unwilling to listen response, or the blank stare. This tore me to bits. I’m not exaggerating. I interpreted their unwillingness to be there for me as a message saying that my problems are not worth speaking about. I ought to just be quiet and listen to others. I then began to shove everything inside. I am surprised I didn’t implode. I never spoke about anything. At all. No matter how much someone tried to pry it out of me, I did not want to speak. And I didn’t. There is a trap here that I personally fell into. Especially if you are a “stuffer.” Every season of my life, good or bad, I would take all of my frustrations, bottle them up, descend into that black hole of sorrow, and succumb to hate. Bitterness was my escape, and I didn’t even realize it. I repeatedly would grow close to people, hiding the sorrow, faking it, waiting until I felt like I could trust the friend, then proceed to dump all of my pent up feelings onto them. Listen to this: no human can handle all you’re going through. I know this is hard to read, and I don’t know everything, but this is what I have learned so far from losing friend after friend. People will try to help. People will need space. Unhealthy friends will jump in your boat and sink with you. Healthy friends might throw you a life vest, but they might not be up to the challenge. DON’T HATE THEM. Don’t grow bitter. They might need more than a day to process, and can you blame them? You’ve been festering with all of these emotions for days, weeks, months, years. DON’T ASSUME THE WORST. This is a habit that caused me to wait for months before opening up. PEOPLE WILL HELP. Find a way to trust people early on, and cultivate friendships based in understanding. I say all of this to really say, bottling up emotions and dumping them out repeatedly makes healing harder and change counterfeit. Believe me, bitterness doesn’t happen overnight, it thrives in the dark and poisons positive experiences over time. Search for the right people, professionals even, and let it out. The bitterness isn’t you. The negativity isn’t you. The hate isn’t you. The anger, sorrow, grief, pain isn’t you. You are not your problems.
Listen: You are not your problems. And what you are going through needs to be heard. You can’t stuff it. Because I’m telling you right now, it is the absolute worst thing you could do. Just because it seems like everyone is preoccupied with their lives and their crap, does NOT mean you are unworthy of being heard. You are. I know the last thing I wanted to hear was “God hears you.” It seemed obvious, but also untrue at the same time. Listen. No human will ever understand you, and comfort you like God does. DON’T MISUNDERSTAND. There ARE people out there who will. I know because I have literally one person in my life I know I can go to when the crap hits the fan. But, hey, it is one person. I also know because I am one of them now. If you need a person – email us. Just don’t do this life thing alone. It is honestly some kind of hell.
Another thing, a little “P.S.” — I’m a deep thinker. I think WAY too much. I mean, I’m not just saying that. My own two, divorced parents, tell me that on different occasions all the time. I think too much in general, and need to work on speaking about my thoughts and not just thinking them. Even if I am misunderstood. (Which is usually why I don’t talk.) It’s better to speak it out and be misunderstood than being miserable all the time, and held down by all my thoughts.
I also ponder way to much on other people. Is that a thing? Yes. It is. Sometimes, we just need to shut off our brains. Stop thinking about how the people around us are thinking/feeling/judging who we are. They matter. But people’s judgements of who God has made you to be are NOT WORTH stressing over. You were NOT created to be someone who bows down to every single person. You were created to be loved by God and respond to that love.
2.) GET OUT
I know. It’s the typical response. But listen: your environment makes such a big difference. At least it did for me. The location, the people, the conversation, the way people interacted with one another, the time spent together or not together — EVERYTHING. And listen: THERE ARE UNHEALTHY ENVIRONMENTS. And, YOU CANNOT always fix them. I thought I had to fix things for so long. Like it was even in my power to do so. You can’t fix people. You can’t fix situations. You are not God. And if you do something for yourself, if you move somewhere else, if you get another job – everyone else will be okay. The pressure is OFF. You do not have to carry EVERY. SINGLE. THING. It is not, I repeat, NOT, your job to be Bob the builder! (hopefully you get that reference… “Bob the builder can we fix it?!” “Yes we can!” … eventually. It’ll be okay eventually, but let go. It isn’t yours to fix. WHEN you let go, feel the relief. Actually accept it. Allow yourself to stop feeling the guilt of ending friendships. It is okay to get out of unhealthy environments; a flower has a hard time growing amongst weeds.Something else I’ve realized is we must notice how far we have come. Oftentimes I point out the things in my head that I haven’t done, or all of my failures. I’ll go over them again and again in my head until I drive myself absolutely crazy.
I hear the lies: “You’ll never get there…” “You can’t do anything right.” “You’re so weak, you cry at everything.” I beat myself up over being sensitive, when really that’s my biggest strength.
Listen to me, precious one.
If people don’t understand what you carry… that. Is. okay. If you pour your love and care out for people and they don’t give it back. It is okay. If you accept the love you think you have earned and they accept the love they think they are entitled to. That is okay. You are not here to make them your all in all. They are not your master and it is not your job to keep them happy all of the time. Take a deep breath and give yourself a break.
And, start making lists. Make lists of how far you’ve come. And if you are not a list person, talk to yourself about it. Pray about it. Out loud. You are not a failure. You are doing so well and the more you stay here and fight these fears the more space you take up and the fear has no option but to flee your space. Fear chooses the narrative of failure. It shows you that the only outcome is embarrassment, hurt, failure, disaster, and pain.
BUT YOU ARE NOT FEAR. And you are NOT embarrassment, hurt, failure, disaster and pain. You are a human who may feel those things but those things are NOT WHO YOU ARE. And we must remind ourselves of that and stick people around us who will remind us of truth. There is no time for games here. Find. Those. People. We all need them desperately. Fear hates when we are vulnerable. Anxiety hates when we are vulnerable. Depression hates when we are vulnerable. Why? Because friends, true friends, and community, good and true community give us purpose, give us hope and determination. And fear and depression and anxiety despise determination. I’m currently on a honest-streak. I have to be honest with myself and others 100% of the time. No bull-crap. Even the smallest thing. I think it, I feel it, I say it. Maybe that sounds a bit extreme for you, but for me, it has brought so much freedom. I think someone is judging me, I tell them that I feel like they are uncomfortable with me or something I said. Being honest with ourselves and with others is a major key to freedom. Days ago I was sitting watching a movie with two friends. Once the movie ended we talked for about an hour. I talked to them about how I wanted to go on this honest-streak. These friends, being the caring people they are, told me I could text them anytime and say whatever it was I was going through or feeling or thinking. So I have been. And let me tell you it has been great. And, they don’t always get what I’m trying to say. I know they don’t. And they’ll tell me they don’t. But, they listen. We all need someone who will listen. Even if they don’t understand. While I don’t seek their validation in order to feel what I feel, I also realize that it is healthy to not isolate myself with my thoughts and feelings. To not “stuff it.”
Don’t stuff it, love. Talk to someone. Even email us.
Okay, last one.
Don’t forget your value. Remember who you are. I know. It is easy to forget. When you suffer from depression, … sadness, self-loathing, hopelessness, anxiety, isolation and guilt are so real. But they don’t define you. They are valid. And you ought to feel them. And you ought to talk about them. But your work and worth are not the same. Something I heard years ago is “You must work from your identity and not for your identity.” This stuck with me. If my identity is in the truth that I am the beloved of God, I can truly love to work because it is no longer “all on my shoulders.” This is obviously easier said than done. And this is why I am emphasizing community so much because I truly believe with all my being that we must live in communities of purity, love and power if we are to truly be transformed. People who also believe they are the beloved of God will push you forward in such a way that actually encourages you to spend more time with God.
While on the subject of honesty, and in closing, let me say this:
I suck at doing all of this. I go weeks sometimes without reading my Bible or praying because I just don’t. I don’t know if it’s that I think I can handle it all, or what it is. But I avoid it. I’m very human. I don’t even think I know the depths of my human-y-ness. And sometimes, I really don’t like people. I think they are flakey and I think they don’t love well. I think they only hurt. Sometimes I think these things about God. But truth is, while people may be this way, there are good ones. And God is good. And dry seasons suck. Depression sucks. It is hard to get out of the pit and keep moving. But you are not powerless. God sent the Holy Spirit for a reason. He doesn’t just sit inside of you eating corn chips and watching netflix. The Holy Spirit is there to comfort you. He is literally called “The Comforter,” and “The Helper.” The helper… I can’t tell you how many times I think I am going insane. Or how many times when I was seriously dealing with depression when I wanted to shout and cry. Or times I said “Wow. I need help.” Haha. Holy Spirit is the comforter. The helper. When Job was in deep deep sadness and his friends sat with him for SEVEN DAYS, saying NOTHING. (Job 2:13) They all just sat together… why? They were comforting him. Sometimes that is what comforting looks like. Sometimes, before the breakthrough, before the healing, there’s sitting. Sometimes it is for seven days. Sometimes it is longer.
I don’t have all the answers, and I won’t pretend I do. But what I will say is: You are loved.
By God and by me. You are seen. You’re valuable. You matter. It is okay. It is okay to hurt. It is okay to feel. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. We all walk a little differently. You don’t feel prepared to walk. Maybe you don’t feel prepared to even stand, but God placed you here. He is right here. And He is saying “you’re ready,” all while holding your hand.
Keep on standing. We’ll stand with you, love.