I have just survived a dark and stormy winter, and I’m ever so grateful that seasons change.
The sadness drifted over me subtly. In fact, I didn’t even notice it was there at first. What I did notice was minor irritations becoming major. Things I often overlooked suddenly choking me. Moments became endless. Bad moments were torturous. Every detail of life was hitting me with gale force.
For the first time since my early twenties, I found myself in a deep depression. Overwhelmed with life and overcome with a sadness I didn’t know how to deal with. My kids had no idea what was going on, but they did finally know what was for supper: “Whatever you can find.” I couldn’t even feed my family. I went to work faithfully every day, complaining to anyone and everyone about everything because there, everyone pretends to listen while they look over your head for someone else to talk to. At home, I scurried around doing all the chores and refusing to talk to anyone because here, no one’s patient enough to endure that kind of nonsense.
I sought refuge in sleep. I curled up on the couch every afternoon and took a nap for as long as my kids would endure it. If I were awake, I’d sit there listlessly while helping with homework. Inevitably, my son or daughter would start talking to me and I’d do my best to not let them see the frustration building up in my chest. I wonder if my face said what my mind was screaming? Please stop talking to me! I’m trying to focus on the battle I’m losing inside!
The severity of the storm wasn’t obvious to me until my daughter started calling me out on things. She was sick of cereal for dinner. Apparently I slept too much. Why was I so angry all the time? Couldn’t we have a decent conversation without me arguing or my eyes rolling into the back of my head? So of course, at this point, I realized something had to change. I felt like I was dying inside. When I was a teenager, I felt like I had nothing to live for and then, I would have rather let it happen than put up a fight. Now, I have a family whom I love with every fiber of my being. Depression can’t have me!
I put up a weak fight at first. I told my sister. We had too many things in common. It was winter in her home too. So I mentioned it to my mom, but I managed to sound casual about it. She took it casually. Finally, I sent my best friend a text. I hadn’t talked to her in several weeks and hadn’t seen her in over a month. Our friendship had grown a little cold on the back burner but I needed someone to know how desperate I was to get out from under this storm!
Her response was deflating. I poured out my heart in a text because that’s all I had in me. My last ditch effort to enlist someone to help me and my best friend didn’t even ask what was going on. She said, “I’m sorry … I love you.”
I just needed someone to save me from drowning.
Hopelessness settled over me. Strangely, it was like a soft blanket I was holding around myself. I just wanted to curl up in it and lay down. I wanted to stop struggling and sleep.
A very discerning coworker asked me how I was and really looked at me while I answered. She noticed my darting gaze, the tears behind my eyes … she softly suggested I look into medication. This winter had gone on so long, I took her suggestion home and danced with it for a few hours before my spirit shook me. You have to fight it, but how will you?
I will be real honest here. I’ve never bought into the world’s take on depression and mental illness. I’ve read my Bible and I know the battle is much bigger than chemical malfunctions in the brain. I’m not saying that isn’t a part of it, but I also believe there’s a spiritual component to misery, and he has a name. Satan.
Depression is manufactured in the pits of hell and hand-delivered. At my house, we take it in like everything else. Not because we like it but we’re often too busy to notice the package.
At the end of myself one afternoon, with no other option but to take medication against my better judgement, I threw myself across the couch after the kids went to bed and began to pour out my heart in prayer. I told God everything. I even said all the things that, on another day, I might have thought I shouldn’t. I got real because I needed to be healed. I needed sunshine in my heart again. I needed to be able to live again, not merely exist … and hate it.
He met me there.
What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear.
Jesus met me there. Jesus, who battled depression at Gethsemane. Who, in his deepest hour of need, was left alone to grapple with his pain and suffering. His friends slept. When death arrived, his friends ran home. Jesus, who faced that foe way before I did, met me in my living room that night. He delicately unraveled the soft blanket that had shimmied up around my neck and was choking me. He cast it back down to hell where it belonged then he pulled me into his embrace and held me tight while I fell apart a while.
I came out of that moment healed. Not because a friend had all the right words to say. Probably more so because my friend had nothing to say and that put me in such a dire place, I had to run to Jesus. In one night, winter was over. I didn’t weather the storm with Him. He saved me out of the midst of it. He saved me from drowning. He ended my suffering by holding me while I fell to pieces. He didn’t urge me to move past anything. Or implore me to keep going despite the pain. He took my burden without question or remark and held me until grief was finished moving out. One evening in the arms of my Best Friend replaced untold years of medication.
I’m not saying the battle is over. It’s not. I’m just fighting proactively. I’m being more offense than defense now. I’m fighting through praise and thankfulness, instead of wallowing under waves of life. I am fighting in prayer and through time in my Bible. Time with my Bestie. What a friend we have in Jesus.