“When we become aware that we do not have to escape our pains, but that we can mobilize them into a common search for life, those very pains are transformed from expressions of despair into signs of hope.” – Henri Nouwen
I remember it like it was yesterday.
This was before cell phones. (Yes, I’m old.) I happened to remember my parents were having dinner with their best friends. I got in my car and drove to their house just a couple of miles from my apartment, tears streaking my face. I walked in the door and immediately crumpled into my dad’s arms.
I was at the peak of my first bout with depression.
I had recently started therapy with my Campus Minister about the underlying effects of sexual abuse from my childhood. The trauma had finally caught up with me. After visiting my doctor and learning that physically, I was fine, I began to deal with the emotional and spiritual side of things. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a one-time occurrence. Depression has been something I’ve been dealing with on and off for the last 15+ years.
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I finally broke down and allowed my family doctor (and trusted friend) to put me on medication. Up to that point, I had been in counseling, I had prayed, I had immersed myself in Bible studies, but the truth of the matter was I couldn’t deal with it on my own. On the outside, I looked fine, but on the inside, I was hanging by a thread.
Depression isn’t talked about much in Christian circles. I’ve yet to figure out why.
We buy into this idea that if we’re sad, we just need to bring it to the foot of the Cross. I don’t disagree with this statement. If it wasn’t for Jesus, I seriously don’t know if I would be where I am today, but the truth is, sometimes we need help in the form of experienced counselors and good medication. I believe these two things go hand in hand. Antidepressants can serve as a temporary Band-Aid, but if the root cause of depression isn’t dealt with through some type of counseling, then it’s probably only going to get worse over time.
So, as Christians, how do we deal with depression beyond medication and counseling?
We talk about it. We find people we can trust and allow ourselves to be vulnerable. It’s amazing what healing can come when we find someone who commits to walk alongside us in the midst of our pain. Then we allow them to not only carry us to the foot of the Cross, but wait with us as Jesus brings about healing and restoration.
It’s not just our faith anymore, it’s the faith of many. It’s about Community.
If you are struggling with depression, you’re not alone. In fact, you may just find that once you step out and share your struggle, it will give someone else the courage to do the same.
That’s what this journey is all about.
*Photo credit: miamism