This blog was originally posted on my blog site on September 11, 2015.
From the outside you would think that everything was going well. I had just graduated college, and had a pretty nice job. My job was the best, actually. The rest of my life was before me, the possibilities, endless. But as I sat at dinner that night in the middle of the California desert, a current had started to flow within and threatened to drown me.
I’ve got to admit. This post hasn’t been easy to write. At all. Even though I wrote the majority of this content on an Instagram post a month ago it has still been a challenge to type these words.
The fact that the topic of depression is still very much taboo doesn’t make it any easier. As a Christian I’m embarrassed to admit that its even more taboo in the realm of the Church. No one ever talks about it. Even using the words depressionand suicide somehow feels like a sin. It’s not sexy, or kosher, and no one feels comfortable talking about it.
But just because it may seem taboo, there is absolutely no excuse for ignoring it. We certainly can’t pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s time we talked about it.
Loss is real.
Pain is real.
Loneliness is real.
Depression is real.
This is reality. I think if we were all completely honest with ourselves, we could all admit that, in some extent, we have felt similar feelings of pain, utter darkness and loneliness.
Personally, I have faced seasons of darkness. My self-worth at times is lower than the Mariana Trench. And while I have never seriously contemplated taking my life, the thoughts have certainly come. Which takes us back to that dinner. My friends had invited me to a farewell dinner, both were good friends, one from high school and the other from college. We shared similar passions, had the same classes, and just had great times together. Both were now married and getting ready to move thousands of miles away. The former to Pennsylvania and the latter to Hawaii. Both had received job offers and were pursing their passions and callings. As I sat there, I realized I had none of that. I haven’t been in a significant relationship, I still live at home, and I wasn’t receiving any job offers. And as I looked at them, I wondered where I had gone wrong. If I made a wrong turn on the road to success. I realized that if I had disappeared off the face of the planet, nothing would change. Besides friends and family missing me, my absence would make no discernible difference. That realization started a flood— one that threatened to destroy my life. More than I care to admit. I was—dare I say—depressed.
Others have experienced inexplicable pain, incredible loss, overwhelming loneliness, or made seemingly irreversible mistakes, and the list could go on. And I wouldn’t even try to pretend I know all the reasons and all the emotions attached. But I do know this: we ALL face it. To some extent, we all know how it feels.
So to those who are hurting and to those who aren’t, I say, “Let’s stop pretending.”
I truly believe if we stopped pretending, and opened up to the reality of depression we would create an environment of open hurting, and with it, foster an environment of overwhelming healing. We weren’t made to go through life alone. Yet too many times we are blinded by our darkness and we feel more alone than ever.
To those hurting: I want to let you know that it’s okay to say, “I’m not okay.” It’s ok to not have it all together. It’s ok to wonder why or what the point of all this is. It’s ok to have doubts and questions and feelings. You need to open up, to be willing to share. Because, you aren’t alone. Even the most courageous men in Scripture faced depression, doubt and pain. Abraham was too old. Moses was inadequate. Joshua had to be constantly reminded to have courage. Elijah ran for his life and hid in a cave. David cheated, murdered, and lied (read the Psalms, the majority of them are desperate pleas for God to listen to him). John the Baptist was in prison, lost faith and had to confirm that Christ was the Messiah he preached about. Peter denied Christ, and returned to his old life as a fisherman. Yet all these people were used greatly by God. I want to tell you that like these men, you’re still important even when the entire world seems to scream ‘you’re worthless!’ To tell you that it’s never too late, you can never go too far. You matter.
To everyone: I urge you to be there and listen. Listen without judgment. Create a space for open and honest communication and acceptance. You don’t know how relieving it is to be able to talk to someone and not worry about being judged or condemned. Too many people have chosen suicide because they were afraid of judgment. Too many people have taken their lives because they thought they were alone. Let people hurt out loud. Tell people you love them, and then show that you mean it. Send a text, flowers, or a gift card. I can’t being to tell you all the stories of how an act of love and just being there has prevented a suicide. You can be that change.
As the founder of TWLOA has said, “Hope is real. Help is real. Your story is important. It’s all worth fighting for.”