Ever since I was a little girl, the people around me made it their mission to prepare me for any dangers in life. I was told not to talk to strangers. I was told that sometimes other people will be me mean, and it’s important to respond well to that. I learned how to spend or not spend money, how to take care of myself when I was sick, and how to do everything in between. People spent so much time teaching me how to fight external battles, but they never mentioned the biggest battles of all, the ones against myself. My little, adventurous self would have never imagined that I’d be fighting feelings and insecurities that dug far deeper than my weight or my face or a childhood crush not liking me back. As I grew older, this reality became much more apparent to me. My biggest enemies resided inside of me, and I was unprepared to fight. I didn’t even know you well, and suddenly I was face-to-face with you, living with you in my life and in the lives of those dearest to me.
Living with you has been hard, not going to lie. I’ve always been reluctant to call you Depression. I know there are some people whose lives are completely torn apart by you. Their lives are extremely difficult to live, and well, I’ve been lucky enough to only experience you in smaller ways. I’m a very happy, resilient, and positive person, so I’ve always felt afraid to put that label on myself. “Depressed.” We live in a world of self-diagnosis, and well, I by no means, intend to contribute to that.
Whatever you are though, you are not fun. You have been the source (or the result of) so much pain and isolation in my life. I remember your first time visiting me. It was in late middle school. I didn’t even know what depression was at the time, and I never recognized your presence in my life until years later. I felt so isolated and so unloved in the world during this time. Everything just felt so dark. I failed to see any worth that people saw in me, and as a result, I kind of hated my own skin. But I grew out of it. I kept going.
I didn’t notice you much throughout high school. You took a hiatus. Maybe you appeared here and there, but overall, I was doing really well. In college, it was the same thing, although I was becoming more aware of who you were. I was really thriving academically and socially, but you crept your way into it all occasionally.
I think my reaction had always been to run from you. You didn’t make any sense to me. I didn’t understand how I could be so happy and successful, but at the same time feel some sort of discontentment in that. I began to literally flee. In a way, I was fleeing as I transferred universities, as I participated in a summer mission, as I studied abroad. I thought that if I could add a busy schedule or new adventures to my life, I could somehow reset everything. That excitement would make my imperfect life feel perfect again.
I’d say there have been a lot of highs and lows over the past couple years. You’re not the constant, unbearable thing that everyone assumes you to be (well, maybe you are to some). To me, you come at the most random times. Sometimes I’ll be at a good place in life. Other times I won’t be doing so well. After disappearing long enough for me to forget about you, you suddenly come back, and you shake up my world every time.
I’ve wrestled with a lot of things because of you. You made me believe that I was unloved. I felt that I was just company to people, not a soul that they genuinely cared to know. You made me feel insecure about my personality, that being an introvert was somehow a problem in this extroverted world. I felt that people wouldn’t understand me. That they would so quickly dim my beautiful, colorful world into three of the most painful words I have ever heard “You’re so quiet.” By feeling unloved and misunderstood, I felt there was no one I could run to with you.
I’m a creature of emotions. When you’re here, I feel things violently. I feel sad, and it’s like I almost want to bury myself deeper in those emotions. I always felt like I was too intense for others, and it has definitely been a challenge to maintain closeness with people because of you. Even my dearest relationships have seen you in some way or another, and I have always felt guilt in the thought of hurting a partner or friend for something beyond my understanding.
Above all, you’ve robbed me of my creativity and so many opportunities. It’s like you dull me down as a person. Sometimes you aren’t sadness. You’re simply this paralyzing, unshakable exhaustion. I don’t like who I am when you do this to me. I’ll spend an entire day in bed. No matter how productive I need or want to be, sometimes all I do (and can do) is eat and sleep the day away. As a person who thrives off of external stimulation and busy schedules, the inability to do much can be devastating. There are days where my head just feels cloudy, and I have absolutely no ounce of creativity. I’ll have ideas for poems or for projects, and either they take days to actually be completed or they fizzle out. Not cool.
I have experienced so much isolation and doubts and guilt and confusion because of you. Depression, you suck. But if there is one thing I know, it’s that you do not win. And you never will. I am a beautiful and loved individual. A resilient soul with a precious life, and I have the love of Jesus Christ Himself to destroy any chance of you breaking me.
As strange as it sounds to say all of this, I am thankful for my past battles I have had with you. They have taught me lessons I never would have learned otherwise. I have seen my abilities to come back from the hard seasons, to thrive in the midst of my battles. Every day, I am learning more beautiful truths about myself and the daughter that I am in Christ. And for that, I think you are a part of my testimony that should not be left out.
I’ve learned to continuously celebrate who I am. I am a beautiful human with unique talents and abilities. My introverted, empathetic personality allows me to really connect with the world, to really understand it. To listen, to think, to create, rather than simply talk. I’m sorry, but you can’t change that about me. I am a creative soul, an adventurer, and a lover. I appreciate who I am and what I have to offer the world.
All of these things were so perfectly gifted to me by God Himself. If the Creator of the universe, the One who made every planet and plant and particle of dust, chose to create me? If He loved me before the world came to be, and if He has a specific purpose for my life that no one else can fill, well, that’s pretty huge. These truths don’t leave much room for you to derail my thoughts. There is a Father who knows and cherishes every piece of who I am. How could I possibly believe I am unloved, alone, or without a purpose in my life?
I have learned that as His daughter, I am loved abundantly and unconditionally. God pours His love into me even when I’m struggling, and I should always cling to that. I am learning to surround myself by His love, to come to Him freely, to lean on His strength rather than my own. Things will not always be okay, and that is fine. Afterall, I’m human. I am sometimes hurt and broken, and the beautiful thing is that God wants IT ALL. He’s not waiting for me to fix everything before coming to Him. No, I’m am able to just surrender my burdens to Him, to come as I am. I can rest in His love and comfort and give Him a space to walk alongside of me and take care of me in my depression. There is so much comfort and strength in coming to the Lord.
Simply trusting in Him and giving Him everything I can, even if it’s seemingly not much, is enough to carry me through any trial in life. I find so much meaning and purpose in life thanks to the One who suffered on the cross so I don’t have to. I find healing and love in the process, and honestly, my hard seasons have only brought me closer to God. I feel a peace and joy that is beyond this world, that I could never experience without His presence in my life.
He gives me a reason to hope, and for that, I know I will be okay.
Depression, I am not afraid of you. My God is bigger than you could ever dream to be.
I am so blessed by the community of believers who have come alongside of me in my walk with the Lord. It brings joy to my soul to share stories with people who are living the same things that I am. To be raw, vulnerable humans, all praising God together. That is something incredible. I pray for everyone carrying out their own journeys. Remember, no battle, not even the internal ones, are too big for the Lord. I desire for everyone to experience comfort and joy in trusting in the Lord.