What is depression? I describe depression as hopelessness, lovelessness, lack of true joy, confusion, etc… Depression is not a thing in and of itself, but it is a lack of a thing. Just like darkness is the absence of light, depression is the absence of joy, love, hope, and peace. Depression is the opposite of all the good and fulfilling things God made for us to enjoy in life. Depression is a hole, a void in our soul. It is an emptiness.
Depression feels very hopeless to the people that deal with it. It feels like a trap, as if the person was in a glass box, and they can see all the people living normal lives outside of depression, but those people cannot see or assist the person that is struggling inside the box. There is an underlying feeling that nobody really cares and that no one would take the time to assist the depressed person in being free. It feels like they will be trapped in the pit of depression forever.
As a direct result of feeling so distant and cut-off from other people, a feeling of not being loved or of being unlovable comes. Because, if they really loved you, they would help you out of it, right? But these people don’t seem to help. Christians will begin to pray and pray about it, but feeling as though there is no answer from heaven for them, they are tempted to believe that God doesn’t really care either. This can lead to a very dangerous place.
Lack of Joy
More time spent with depression causes all the colors and joys of life to slowly fade to gray. What once was seen as beautiful, vibrant color, has now faded to dull gray. What once caused joy and happiness now leaves a boring sting of nothingness. It feels almost like every day is just a distant, mellow dream, or as though you aren’t awake as you go about each day. You drift along through life in a vast ocean of nothingness.
All these thoughts and feelings begin to pile up, and it makes you feel like you’re going crazy. There are all these intense emotions, and all this intense emptiness, all at once, always persistent, never ending… One moment it’s too intense; you get lost in the mix of overwhelming thoughts. Then, the next moment it is an aching numbness. You feel forever asleep to life and painfully alert of every passing second at the same time. You feel drained and dry, as if there was a void in the center of you. That void is so full and yet so empty at the same time. You feel it so deeply, and you can’t feel it at all. A subtle voice of panic begins to whisper in your ear. As time goes on, it grows louder and louder, screaming lies to your heart. It says that nobody really loves you, and that maybe every day is not even worth living anymore. It can be hard to find what is real and what is fake. It’s a very chaotic ongoing battle in the mind which leaves you desperate for peace. Lines blur, and you grow weary. It gets hard to tell up from down anymore. The battle can easily change from deciphering the truth from lies to just trying to tell all the different lies apart. You feel like there is no end, like you are just lost and confused, unable to regain control. Questions will taunt you, “Is there even a way out?” “Was there anything before being this way??” You don’t remember what it feels like to be normal, but you know there was a different normal than the one there is now. You don’t remember what it was like, or if it is even worth fighting for. Do you even want to get better?… But this voice that tells you those things is always lying to you. No matter what it is saying, no matter how true it sounds, it is desperately trying to deceive you into doing something that you don’t want to do, or thinking about something that you shouldn’t.
With all of this going on inside, how can you survive? What could you do to navigate through the storm in your heart? There are a few key truths below that you can remember and hold on to even when everything else seems to be falling apart.
Having a solid hope is absolutely essential to not being overcome by depression. Hope is what keeps us going on the good days and on the hard days. The true hope that we need is always found in Jesus and His promise of eternal life to those who believe in Him. When we realize our identity in Christ, we have a firm hope for our future. We can trust that everything will work for our good and God’s glory, and we can count on meeting Jesus in heaven one day.
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” – Psalm 42:5
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” – Hebrews 6:19
Knowing and remembering that you are loved is another integral part of fighting depression. You have to realize that God loves you so much that He sent His only Son to die in order to give you life. It doesn’t stop there either; there are people all around you that love you, both friends and family members. They may just not know how to help you. That shouldn’t be held against them though, you may be able to guide them in how they can help you. It can be learning process for both of you. Just keep in mind that even if the actions or words aren’t quite right at the moment, their heart motive is one of love and caring, and while people may let you down from time to time, God never will!
“The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again, and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt. Again you will take up your timbrels and go out to dance with the joyful.” – Jeremiah 31:3-4
Our joy is where we find our strength. Because of that, it’s important that we fight to have joy as well. When we have a firm hope and an understanding that we are loved, we can begin to experience joy. A joy that is rooted in Jesus can’t be taken away. Everything can be falling down around us, but as long as we have Jesus, we can have joy. Joy is what gives you the strength to continue on, no matter the circumstances.
“So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” – John 16:22
And finally, you can receive peace in the storm, through Jesus. Only Jesus can calm the wind and waves in your life. He is your anchor through this storm. He can give a peace that passes all understanding, and bring you safely through. Only Jesus can heal the depressed soul. Only Jesus can take your darkness and turn it to light. It may not be in your timing or in your way, but rest assured that He can do it. Cling to Jesus, and He will carry you through.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27