I wrote probably five different intros to this article - since this is my first one, I figured I would start with something gripping – something that would hold your attention. But, dear reader, although I thoroughly appreciate your audience, I cannot help but abstain in beating around the bush.
It comes in many forms, fashions, and actions. There’s no way around my saying this, but what you’re going through may have a completely different effect on someone else who is going through the same thing. As much as I would like to say that depression is just a feeling that is fleeting – that it’s some intangible phase, I cannot bring myself to do so. Why? Because as someone who suffers (yes, I said suffers) from depression, I can honestly say that it may never completely go away.
Now, before I hit any specifics, I have to address the elephant in the room: how can I sit here and say that I’m a Christian if I still have bouts with depression? Well, I’m glad you asked! You know, the guy who wrote the New Testament, Paul, had a serious bout with something that no one knows about. He never explicitly mentions it in scripture, he doesn’t allude to it by any means, and he simply bears with this great burden. As far as we know, it never went away. He writes in 2 Corinthians 12:17:
“Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!” (NASB)
Did Paul have depression? Well, we don’t know. Possibly. Maybe he was self-absorbed, maybe he had a physical ailment, maybe he had anger issues, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. What matters is that he openly admitted that there was some part of himself that he was dissatisfied with. Maybe this thorn in me will leave, maybe it won’t, but I won’t stop loving my Jesus as a result of something that is temporary. “But if Paul had this his whole life, how can you say that your depression is temporary?” you may ask, and that is something I will gladly get back to.
Depression is ugly!
It is not a fashion statement or a trend. Depression is not a result of God’s goodness, but rather an outcome of man’s constant dissatisfaction with himself and the world around him. There were times that I thought I was being selfish for being depressed. Throughout my teenage years, I honestly thought that I needed to simply, “grow up”. Yeah, because depression is immature, right? I had friends that suffered from the same thing, and I always heard the same thing from various authority figures, “This will pass. You really don’t know how good you’ve got it! You’re being ungrateful for the life you have. Kids around the world would kill to be in your position!” How could I be so selfish? Am I really that much of a brat?
Eventually, I became very frustrated with myself for feeling the way I did. As the years passed by, I tried to repress my feelings so that this “immaturity” could eventually leave me. Then there came Abby. All of this could’ve been avoided if it weren’t for Abby. Abigail was a friend of mine that I met on the Internet when I was 15 years old. We talked for quite a bit and eventually became really good friends. We’d share music, crack jokes, and tell each other about our own respective lives. But there was something wrong with Abby: she had depression. She needed constant attention at times and became really moody when she didn’t have someone to talk to when she got this way. She never told her parents, she never got professional help, and she was very alone.
Eventually, she started threatening suicide if I didn’t reply to a text right away, or I couldn’t make her feel better. It wasn’t her fault though, she was just sick. Ultimately, it got so bad that when she tried to call or text me, I felt an obligation to tell her what she wanted to hear so she would just be pacified for a time again, that is, until the next round. There was finally a night where I just couldn’t do it anymore. See, I became so frustrated that she had someone to talk to but I didn’t when I needed him or her. Where was my David? Why couldn’t someone be there for me like I (partially) was for Abby? It’s not fair that I have to deal with her pouring her drama on me when I’d “grown past” it. She needed to just, “get over it”. So one night she called me, and I didn’t answer. She called again, and I threw my phone on my bed and left my room. I thought to myself, “She won’t do anything. If she wants to off herself, she can do it. I’m not her babysitter.”
My phone eventually stopped ringing. The next day I looked at my phone, and I saw that I got a text from Abby. She told me in the text that she loved me, and wished me a good night’s sleep. Something was wrong. I tried contacting her to apologize for not getting back to her sooner, but she never answered. I tried texting her and messaging her on Myspace, but she hadn’t been online in days. Not long after my attempts, I found out that this poor sick girl killed herself that night.
I was wracked with grief. I honestly thought that I killed Abby. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t think of anything else, and when I did manage to sleep all I did was have nightmares. I saw myself as an accomplice to murder, or someone guilty of manslaughter, or an assistant to suicide. How could I go on living with her blood on my hands? How could I have been so calloused? I finally decided that my life wasn’t worth living anymore. I condemned myself guilty of murder. I planned on ending my life one night. Right before I put the plan into action, there was something nagging me to just sleep on it. If I wanted to commit suicide that badly, I could do it in the morning, right? Morning came around, and I felt such a zeal for life. I couldn’t explain it, but I was really alive – more alive than I had been in a really long time. God talked to me that night, He comforted me and held me as I slept. He knew that I wasn’t a lost cause, but there was a lot of baggage I needed to unload on Him, and to others.
Two years after the event, I finally decided that it was time to seek help with my depression. Bondage was broken in my life, burdens lifted, and my calling was found during the time I was in counselling. I knew that I was called to be a pastor, and I needed to help others who are going through the same thing. You see, I may still have times where I feel distraught, but I have a God who will hold me as I sleep, and wait to wake me in the morning. If I have this my whole life, it’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the eternity that I will spend with the One who was always listening to me.
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18, ESV)
Ultimately, it’s all going to burn - this world, our lives, even heaven itself – it’s all going to pass. Even if you suffer with depression your whole life, you have a God who will sufficiently and unconditionally give you an excess of joy to combat this sickness.
For those who make fun of depressed people and make light of it as if it’s some type of immaturity, I would warn you not to do so. It’s real, and it is more painful than you could possibly imagine. Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t give you the right to hurt others. You deserve hell just as much as I do.
Depression hurts. Depression kills. Depression is ugly. But Jesus Christ came to give you life, and an abundance of it. The suicide prevention hotline is:
Don’t end your life before you know how much you’re worth, because someone paid their life so that you may live.
That statement alone is proof that:
You are not worthless!
You are priceless!