I wear depression like a thick wool blanket, draped over my stiff achy shoulders, tripping over the dragging ends, unable to smoothly navigate it as I carry it through my day.
Most days, I get ready, paste on a smile and head out the door. Today’s not that day.
Already past 10:00am, I rise out of guilt, stumble to the coffee pot, not so much to wake to this sleepy life but rather to reach out for liquid comfort that emotionally eases the tightness in my chest and jaw, aching from a long night of anxious dreams.
I stumble back to bed with my cup cradled in my hands, breathing in warmth. I heave myself back into bed. My eyes close, my body fights gravity. I set the cup down, crawling back under covers to hide from this day loud with sunlight, chirping birds and clutter piles.
I’ve poked my head out and now declare 6 more weeks of winter.
My emotions grow large and unmanageable. Sleep brings respite during this heartbreaking season I can’t manage.
By noon, guilt says, “clean the house, put on clothes, brush your teeth. Your family will be disappointed in you.” These nagging thoughts drive me up and out. I eye my now-cold coffee, grab the handle and find my way back to the kitchen to reheat it in the microwave for Round 2. A mulligan of sorts.
This time, I sit at my desk and open Scripture. Words fall out from David’s mouth that mirror my pain and somehow, I feel less alone:
2Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak.
Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
3 I am sick at heart.
How long, O Lord, until you restore me?
6 I am worn out from sobbing.
All night I flood my bed with weeping,
drenching it with my tears.
7 My vision is blurred by grief;
my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies. (Psalm 6 NLT)
I know God is good, even now, in this dark grief, threatening to derail me like many times before. I know the enemy is at work stealing my joy, destroying my life, and pounding lies into my head that kill my passions.
But I sit alone paralyzed. All I can pray is, “help.”
The itchy wool blanket suffocates. One big heave, and I could throw it off. But I don’t have the strength. It threatens me with another long and dark season of hopelessness.
Most days I watch life pass me by from the brown leather couch I regret buying 3 years ago. My skin sticks to its surface and makes me cranky. But it’s from here I watch my sons and husband come and go each day from their lives of purpose, and I stare at the wall and wonder what to do with myself.
Who cares if the house is dirty? Who cares if the laundry doesn’t get done? If I don’t cook dinner, we can eat cereal. If I don’t show up to my life, someone else will, so the things I do around here, never mind. Someone else can do them.
My dreams of writing during my days? Sharing my words out in the world? My journal is full of words for my own eyes, but words for others?
Maybe just this: those like me who suffer depression, we know you can’t fix us, those of us who sit in the dark for days on end. Those of us who ache to join everyone in the light of the living but can’t. We know you want to; we know you try. And we feel guilt for not being able to respond.
For those in our innermost circle, please continue to speak truth and life into our dark and dying places. Continue to nurture in ways only you can, but do not think we expect you to give up your life for us.
Christ already did that.
It’s in this dark place I am more fully acquainted with Christ and His suffering if even just a bit (Hebrews 2:18, 4:15), and He’s doing a work here that needs to be done. He too was a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief (Isaiah 53:3). My tiny suffering is nothing compared to Christ’s, but it’s a window into deeper understanding of who He is and how to become more like Him. I want to suffer well, to become stronger, more empathetic and grace-filled because of my time here in the dark.
To my innermost circle: Treat me like a friend and not a science project. I’m not a problem needing to be solved, nor a prayer request that needs to be shared. Rather, I’m a sojourner on the path to eternity. Cheer me on, celebrate my baby steps, coach when necessary, pray if you can, and occasionally be a listening ear. And may I do the same for you.
Sometimes, just confessing the pain is enough to bring healing to my day and make that hot itchy blanket a little lighter.