“You’re not good enough.”
“No one cares about you.”
“Everything would be better if you did not exist anymore.”
There was a time in my life when these were daily thoughts in my head. Every day, I would wake up and fight the battle just to get out of bed. Some days I could not get out of bed—I would just lay there and weep. A good day for me meant that I didn’t start crying until noon. The smallest thing would make me cry for days. I would feel sad and guilty and blame myself for things that were out of my control. My friends and family meant nothing to me. I avoided God because in my head, I believed God was a spiteful judge who just felt disappointment and anger towards me. It felt like I was walking around with an extra weight that, despite my best efforts, would not lift away. I began to numb myself with whatever I could, all the while trying to convince others, and myself, that I was fine.
Over two years ago, I was diagnosed with depression. As a pastor, depression is not something people think I ought to have. There are people—people I love and respect dearly—who have told me that because I believe in Jesus, “I should not have depression.” Jesus is supposed to make us happy. Jesus does bring joy to our lives, but that statement is NOT true. If you have ever watched the show “The Office,” you know there’s an episode where Michael Scott pretends to have depression. He is on a roof, and Dwight Schrute asks him this question, “Depression? Isn’t that just a fancy word for feeling ‘bummed out’?” That could not be farther from the truth.
What is Depression?
According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression (otherwise known as major depressive disorder) is a “serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.” There is not one cause of depression; rather, there are a few factors that can cause someone to have depression. Sometimes depression can be situational, but sometimes, depression is the result of a chemical imbalance in someone’s brain. Depression can make someone behave like a completely different person.
For someone who has depression, each day is a new adventure. Each day brings new situations and different triggers to learn how to work through. People who have depression are not just sad—there is something happening inside of their minds that clouds everything they see. Situations look completely different. What may seem insignificant to one person can bring a spell of bitter sadness to another. I speak from experience when I say that it’s scary to realize that you don’t know how to live life well anymore. Those with depression must re-learn how to work through everyday situations to overcome these feelings, thoughts and behaviors. Every day can seem like a battle, and some days, the battle gets the best of you.
“It felt like I was walking around with an extra weight that, despite my best efforts, would not lift away.”
Fighting For Me
I will not lie and say that living with depression is easy. Even now, I have days where I just want to give up and stop fighting. But even on my worst days, somehow, someway, I’m reminded of how valuable I am. I am reminded that this diagnosis does not define me. I am reminded that God cares about me even though I am depressed. God is not a spiteful judge, but a caring Creator who helps me through this. I do not have to spend my life being miserable because I have depression. I can learn to overcome this and live an abundant life. This goes for everyone with depression.
If you feel as if you’re struggling with depression, find someone you can trust to speak to. Do not keep your feelings to yourself. Find someone who you can trust completely, will listen to you and help you with what you’re feeling. Maybe it’s your pastor, a counselor, an older friend. Talking about what you are feeling is one of the best ways to work through what you are feeling. Develop self-care techniques like journaling, exercising or taking up an old hobby. You are important, so taking care of your mental health is a priority. Find things to do that make you feel like yourself. Follow accounts on social media that are uplifting and speak truth into your life. Spend time in prayer and Bible reading, where you will discover the truth about who you are.
Know that you are able to live and overcome what you are feeling.
For Further Study
- It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way by Lisa TerKeurst
- Visit teenmentalhealth.org for information, articles and more resources on depression and other mental illnesses
- Write out Scripture and post them somewhere you will see them every day
- Find a counselor to see and talk to regularly