I decided to go grocery shopping today. I dragged my cart down three flights of stairs, stepped out into the liquid steel gray morning and trudged the 25 minute walk to Aldi’s. On the way there, I decided to pray. I spoke to God, thanking Him for the miracles in my life, speaking healing over my sick relatives, increased faith and to build up the confidence to share my faith with those in my circle. I entered Aldi’s pumped up, ready to take on the dairy and produce aisles. A clerk greeted me warmly and pointed me in the direction of the fresh, sun colored sweet corn. I sashayed through throughout the store, energized by my power prayer walk. I left the store and started back toward my apartment.
That’s when the enemy flung depression right in my face like a monkey at a zoo throwing its dung in its cage. As I struggled to push my cart up hills a barrage of thoughts such as ” you have no friends”, ” no one cares about you”, no one is thinking about you”, “you’re always going to be left out”, “you could disappear and no one would notice” drowned out the previous, kinetic and powerful pray from just 30 minutes prior.
The backdrop was mockingly perfect. Gray, sunless skies along with a taunting drizzle became my own little movie set as the wheels of my cart hit cracks on the sidewalk. The closer I got to my house, a place that is supposed to provide comfort and relief, the more I felt a growing void insidiously growing inside. Empty and colorless. I thought to myself, “You’ve been here before. Just get into the Word and then watch the church service. You’ll feel better”.
Except the void only expanded. Try as I might, the worship and message of the pastor failed to soothe the burning depression searing throughout my body. The music from the worship team sounded like a baby banging on pots and pans on the kitchen floor. The words from the Pastor dulled into my brain, but go figure, I could hear the enemies taunts of “you’re not good enough”, “what have you accomplished for God?” “Look at everyone else, they’ve got something to show, they’ve got the talent, the anointing”, “what have you got?”
Like a twisted melody, I let the enemy continue his sinister symphony. Even now as I’m writing, the burning in my chest persist.
I, like 16.1 million adults in the United States, battle Major Depressive Disorder (according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America). The National Institute of Mental Health has the figure of 17.1 million adults as having one depressive episode. These past two weeks I experienced the symptoms of “persistent, sad, anxious mood”, “feelings of pessimism”, Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling “slowed down”, “Restlessness, irritability” “Insomnia, early-morning awakening,” and “Loss of interest in hobbies and activities” (adaa.org).
Even today, I considered calling up a friend and saying I was no longer wanted to go on our trip to Montana. I ruminated on how to tell her that I didn’t want to go on the trip she is so pumped about.That I wasn’t interested. That I would feel like a third wheel.
Depression is one of the devil’s favorite friends. he uses depression to suck the joy and light out of anyone who has a dastardly encounter with it. Like a puppet, the talks through depression saying “When was the last time anyone texted you to hang out” and “See, you’re never invited to hang out or go on dates”, and “you’re not appreciated at work and your colleagues don’t respect you”. And worst “Look how you’ve wasted your time and life. God isn’t using you because you’re useless”.
Depression makes you feel like a bird alone on a roof. An unstable and collapsable roof.
Then, just when you’ve run out of tears to spill, another bird joins you on the roof. He shoos the enemy away and turns to you. He says to you ” Don’t let this rattle you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.” (John 14: 1-4, The Message Version).
This bird will never leave you alone, even though that’s exactly what you want to be at the moment. This bird nestles next to you, sings a song of hope, light and love. The bird urges you to fly with Him high above the void that the enemy tried to pull you into. He takes you on a new route, the route of life and Truth. He restores your smile. Your outlook.
When Jesus was about to go to the Cross, he made sure that His disciples would be taken care of. He didn’t leave them alone, but sent His Holy Spirit as a comforter. The Holy Spirit helps us remember the character and promises of God. He’ll vacuum out the dusty cloud of lies that the enemy left behind and remind us that we are chosen, thought of and loved.
And my mind has a lot dust to vacuum.
I used to be ashamed of depression. On days when we duke it out and depression seems to have the upper hand, I think that I’ve failed God. That my faith is weak. In these moments, I’m reminded of the words the Lord spoke to Paul “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Instead of embracing depression, I am encouraged to embrace God’s grace and power. Battling depression has made me more emphatic and understanding. An advocate of mental health . And living proof of God’s grace and mercy.
With the Month of May being National Mental Health Awareness Month, now more than ever, I feel compelled to share my story. I may still be smack dab in the middle of a depressive episode, but that’s all the more reason I need God to use me. For me to tell you there’s hope. That struggling with your mental health isn’t shameful or an indication that something is wrong with you. I am proof that depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, maladaptive behavior and other mental health challenges don’t have to rule your life. Because at the end of that long, dreary walk through that dark tunnel is light.
And I can’t wait to bask in it.