Depression | The Bridesmaid Dress Series
It's not just sadness.
It's not just loneliness.
It's not something you can "just get over."
Honestly, it's many, many things.
Welcome to the second installment of my (very sporadic) Bridesmaid Dress series. Last year, I talked about anxiety. Then we took these photos, and I’ve been typing and hitting the ‘delete’ button ever since, trying to get the words right. I think it's because there's so much to say, and I wish I could say everything in one post.
Depression is so sneaky. It’s a cruel beast and it impacts all sorts of people differently. Maybe you’ve experienced the kind that comes with losing a loved one, a dream, or even a part of yourself. Perhaps you’ve dealt with long-term depression that eats away at you every day. Maybe you’ve experienced both.
Either way, it is a deep struggle.
When I was 13 I experienced depression for the first time, and I didn’t know what hit me. One moment I was walking along in my life, and the next, I was drowning in an ocean and couldn't find my way to the surface. In the years since, I've heard the painful stories from so many others that echoed mine. But as a teenager back then, I didn’t know other people experienced this terrible beast too. I just thought, Well, this is it. This is my life now. Probably forever.
Depression crashed over me in a massive wave I didn't see coming. I was sinking. It felt like there was no air to breathe, no end to the abyss underneath me. And the thing is, depression is so good at lying to us. When it does, it would have us believe we're alone and unwanted, drowning in an ocean while nobody sees our pain and struggle.
I listened to that for what seemed like a long time.
But depression is a liar. It is, and even though we know that, it’s still difficult to wade through the waters of depression when we don’t know the Truth to keep us grounded.
So here are some truths.
You are loved.
You are worthy.
You are not alone.
When I was 13, I didn’t know those things. Someone told them to me once, but I didn't know it for myself. I felt trapped by the other things I thought must've been true. I felt surrounded by a sea of deep, dark, broken things. I didn’t trust anyone with what I was feeling, so no one knew what I was going through.
It was over a year of sitting at the bottom of this watery abyss before I realized I didn’t have to stay there. I’d given up fighting against the ocean of depression because I didn’t know how--and after a while I didn’t think it was important to even try. But when I made myself look up, I saw the flicker of light above me. I saw hope: this wasn't how it had to be.
The Lord whispered to me words I thought were long forgotten. Depression doesn’t have to win.
And you know what? He's right. Even when the daily struggle gets worse, when the world feels like it just split apart and can never be restored. Depression doesn’t have to win. When I realized that, I started to reach towards that glimmer of light.
Depression doesn’t have to win. I learned I don't have to let it. But I also learned a truth that was hard, humbling, and ultimately brought me to the feet of the Lord, giving my life to Him and choosing His will above my own. I couldn’t do it alone.
There’s no amount of willpower I possess to do it alone.
And in the years that have been tainted with the familiar waves of depression since my first experience at 13, I’ve learned that lesson over and over. I can’t do it alone. But I never really was alone.
It was never supposed to be my own strength that got me through. It was never my own good thoughts and willpower, and I couldn’t ever pick myself up by my bootstraps enough to do it. I had to give my life to the Lord. I had to be for Him, not for myself. And rely on Him, not myself.
In the 11 years I’ve now known depression, it’s taken so many forms. Forms you might be familiar with, too. There's the deep sadness that engulfs us when we lose friends. There's the kind that comes from being deeply hurt by people we've trusted. There's the numb, frozen place it takes us to sometimes, and we're not even sure how or why.
But through it all, the Lord is near. In my life, I've come to know He's the solid Rock on which I stand. Even when I'm dancing on the shores of depression, my feet are still there on that foundation. Even when the waves lap up at my legs; even when I'm hit from behind with a wave I didn't see coming. My feet are on the Rock.
Did you know? Even the Bible is full of people struggling with the pain and depth of depression. David, Elijah, Hannah, Paul, and so many others. And each time, we see the Lord is near. We hear the desperation in the calling out, and we see God answer His people.
We can't fix depression all on our own. But we're not alone in that deep, dark sea, are we?
When we let the Lord enter our lives, we experience a flood of Love as the Healer binds up our broken hearts. We come near to the Healer, who counts every tear we shed. We learn to set our eyes on Him, and not on this world.
And because it doesn't get said enough, let me also say. The One who draws near to us in our depression is also the One who has equipped people with the ability to help us. Some of that help might include talking with a therapist, discussing a medication, changing lifestyle/habits, opening up to trusted friends or family, and so much more. And I've been grateful for tools like these as I've walked with depression for these years. With His strength--and the knowledge, love, and support of others who are walking with me.
Sometimes, the waves still knock the wind out of my lungs and leave me sputtering. But I’m not facing them alone. And I’ve learned in Christ is fellowship, accountability, encouragement, love, understanding, medical help and resources, and so much more.
Knowing we're not alone gives us the strength to fight back, and remember the truth. Depression is a liar.
But oh, how beautiful the Truth is.
And somehow, even in the darkest of nights, that is the light that shines through. He is the Light that shines through. And on Christ, the Solid Rock, we stand.