The following is a blog post I wrote 4 years ago that I never published, and as the title says it is my story and experience with depression. As it is National Suicide Prevention Week I thought about what could I share to encourage you today. And this post that never got published came to mind. I honestly had forgotten I wrote it, but as I re-read it I knew I needed to share. So here are some words from 23-year-old me. Hope it encourages you today!
My entire point of creating this blog is to be authentic and honest with you guys in hopes that I can encourage others. I want to be open and real with people because I have realized that we need to share our stories with each other. We need to stop putting on masks and covering up all the mess inside of us. We need to be honest about where we are and not act like we have it all together, when maybe inside everything is falling apart. I have seen that when a group of people comes together and is vulnerable with each other they find that they have more in common with each other than they could have ever imagined. So here I am being open with you.
Here is part of my story.
I have struggled with depression off and on for about 7 years.
Many people would probably never guess that I have dealt with depression because I became very good at hiding it. So for you reading this, you the person who knows the pain of depression and you who feels like you are the only one going through this, let me encourage you, you are not alone! There are probably people all around you that you may come in contact with daily who are depressed or anxious and tons of other things, and you don’t even realize it, so please if you are feeling this way find someone you trust and tell them what you're going through.
That aside, I have dealt with feelings of loneliness and depression and even had thoughts of suicide. Thankfully, I never went through with those thoughts, but they were very real and an extreme burden to carry around.
Nighttime was the worst. I hated going to bed because then all the thoughts and feelings I tried to push away would come flooding in without hesitation. They were like a pesky neighbor who always invites themselves into your house without asking, only it was like a whole group of them.
One night I couldn’t handle the thoughts and fear anymore, so I finally admitted what I was going through to my parents, and then I began to see a counselor. I thought that I was alone in this fight with depression and that I had to be strong and get through it, but I realized something -- I wasn’t meant to carry this.
The First Lesson
I am not strong enough to defeat depression on my own. I need God. I need Him to be my strength. After this epiphany, daily and gradually I started to grow stronger with God by my side. After I graduated high school, so about 3 years of battling depression, I finally felt happy and had peace again, and it felt SO good!
I thought I was done, I was finally free from this. Then my junior year of college came and my depression came back with it, and it came back even worse.
I remember one night that following summer I came home and I couldn’t even hold in the tears. I just broke down in the living room in front of my parents.
I couldn’t believe I was back in the same place again. Battling the same thing I thought was over.
As school started back up I was trying to be hopeful that being around my friends and being able to be distracted by schoolwork would help me, despite the fact that I ended up not having a roommate. I looked at the bright side and thought, “I’ll just have lots of room all to myself, and it’ll be great!” Despite my great friends I had I still felt more alone than ever. It doesn’t make sense, does it?
I realized I was putting my identity in my friendships, basing my happiness on how many friends I had, instead of investing time in my relationship with the one who mattered most, God.
What Could I Turn To Now?
It was then when I had nothing else to turn to. It was then that I decided that I was going to be intentional about spending time with God, reading my Bible, in worship, and in prayer because I realized, quite literally, that I couldn’t live without Him. I realized that I need to go to Him every day to fill me up and nothing else. So I finally started to have a daily devotional time, and it actually lasted for more than a week and then a month and it became a habit. Now, a day doesn't go by where I don't open the pages of my Bible and fill myself up with God's Word.
All throughout this time, people would try to encourage me with Scripture and by saying that “God has a purpose for this pain” and “There’s a reason for this suffering,” but while I was going through it, I couldn’t see the reason. I couldn’t see the silver lining to this heaviness that weighed upon my spirit, or to the negative thoughts that taunted me all the time. I couldn’t see the end to my pain. It felt like no matter how hard I prayed it would never go away.
As I think over that time in my life I’m reminded of the words to a song that goes, “He's brought me to the wilderness, where I will learn to sing. And He lets me know my barrenness, so I will learn to lean.”
The Second Lesson
I learned one very, very important lesson. God allowed me to go through that extremely low point so that I would learn to lean on Him alone. I had to realize my own barrenness and remember how much in need of a Savior I am. I needed to rely on Him and no one else for my happiness and contentment.
When I went through my depression the first time I didn’t fully grasp this. When life had started going pretty well I began to let my time with God become less and less because I didn’t feel as much of a need for Him, but when I got to the point where I couldn’t bear the weight of depression any longer I finally made a lifestyle change and decided that time with God is the most important thing.
He is the one I need to go to with my joys and burdens. The one who can fill me up. The one who gives peace, and life, and joy and love. The one my soul cannot live without.
I’m not saying that now again I am completely great and everything’s okay. There are still times when it's rough, but I am not giving up the fight. I have had to deal with this mentally, and strengthen myself against letting my mind dwell on those negative thoughts that come against me. (If you want to learn more about how to deal with that read this blog). What I am saying is that God is always with me and that daily I have to make a choice.
Worry or peace? Sadness or joy? Fear or trust?
Daily I have to choose joy. Daily I have to choose to spend time with God. Daily I have to choose to look at all the blessings in my life. Daily I choose to continue to walk out the purpose God has for me.
Remember, you were made on purpose for a purpose, so don't let anything keep you from that. Always lean on God and put your hope in Him, and with Him, by your side, you can get through anything because God is stronger than death. He is stronger than the lies, the depression, the anxiety, the doubt, and the fear. Because it says in 1 John 4:18, "Perfect love casts out fear."
p.s. While I would love to talk to you if you are going through depression, I am not a counselor, so if you are in need of someone to help you through this, I would definitely recommend seeking help from a professional counselor. I did, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing it. I would love to pray for and with you though! For more resources check out afsp.org/resources or twloha.com