Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence
Have you ever been in a room full of people and felt completely alone?
I have. I still do, sometimes.
Everyone is dressed in their Sunday best as family, friends, and strangers weave in and out of one another’s presence. Each one glides through the room with self-assurance as if a beautiful embroidery piece was being woven together. The echoes of laughter rebound off every surface although to me, it is the sound of silence.
Pleasantries are exchanged throughout like Valentine cards in elementary school.
I close my eyes. I inhale deeply and slowly let it out.
I coach myself to take the hardest step…the first step and then
I softly whisper, “Smile, don’t forget to smile.”
My first line of defense is to snatch something to occupy my hands.
This helps create distance. I feel safe at a distance.
Reaching for a beverage to clutch, I make a quick room scan.
“BINGO!” I locate an empty chair directly to my right.
If my calculations are correct I should be able to arrive at my destination
within eight steps give or take; barring I do not get swallowed up in the bottleneck of gladness.
In my last post, I invited you into a personal conversation as I openly shared my private battle with depression. I had not the slightest inkling where this confession would take me, but God knew.
In my admission, I have discovered a treasure trove of reassurance. Like-minded hearts spoke up as my words gave way to permission. Permission to be real. Permission to be honest. Permission to say, “me too!” Permission with no shame and permission to be more understanding.
Did you know that depression effects 1 in 10 Americans?**
Did you know that 80% of those affected by depression do not get treatment?**
Now, with this knowledge ask yourself, why? We seek medical attention for countless other conditions and ailments, but why not depression?
If I dare, might I provide you with a few of the possibilities?
1. If I give it time it will go away
2. What will others think or say
3. I do not want anyone to think I am crazy
4. I am embarrassed
5. My faith must be weak
This was an easy list to compile. These were my reasons.
The Unwelcome Guest
Following my first bout with depression, life continued at a rapid pace. God blessed our quiet little farm home with a beautiful daughter and soon to follow, an adorable little boy. Days were filled with outdoor adventures, Scooby-Do, imaginary friends and the endearing sound of laughter.
Just when I thought all was well on the York home front, I could sense a slight shift approaching. A dark gray cloud was easing its way across the dazzling summer sun. Much to my dismay, I could see my old friend slinking up the driveway. I quickly gathered up my children to dash inside, but it was too late. He knew I was home.
Knock, knock, knock!!
Unfortunately, I was about to learn what it meant to live through the lens of mere functioning. I would like to share with you more about this particular time, but I can’t. This is what I do know. I know my children were fed and clothed. I know I went about my routine as best as I could; but the terrifying truth is there are missing pieces of my life’s puzzle during that particular time frame.
Depressive episodes can take a great toll on relationships, especially marriages. I can testify that only by the grace of God did I receive my most prized relationship, my husband. Robert has loved me through good times and bad. He has loved me through richer and poorer. He has loved me in sickness and in health, but most of all he has loved me with the love of Christ.
I would not be the person, daughter, sister, friend, wife or mom that I am today without his constant and unwavering love. On his support alone (through Christ), I have conquered numerous personal battles as he chooses to walk beside me. But even with that incredible support, it is not enough to fend off the brutal effects of depression.
I can be in a room full of people and believe whole-heartedly I am alone. I can possess a strong desire to participate with others, but panic sets in and I immediately withdraw. I can easily convince myself I serve no purpose for anyone and unfortunately, streams of tears can flow for no apparent reason.
Did you know that depression can be genetic? Although it is not as simple and straightforward as other diagnosed diseases, depression is viewed by the medical community as an inherited illness. Agree or disagree, a great effort has been placed within the field of medicine to help determine this factor.
I can tell you without hesitation clinical depression runs in my family. I do not share this information with you to proclaim some dark kept secret within my clan. I do not say this to embarrass my loved ones.
No, I share this little bit of information to shine more light onto
a much deeper and complicated matter.
Depression is real. Depression is dark.
Depression is painful. Depression is lonely.
Depression can be inherited.
Growing up I watched in utter bewilderment the effects depression had on those near and dear to my heart. I received what you might consider a double dose as depression made its way into precious lives paternally and maternally. Each one has faced and fought their own battles with what they had available at the time. Some effective and sadly, some not so much.
I do not set in judgment of those who have faced this battle before me.
I do not set in judgment of those who are dealing with this affliction today.
I do set in judgment of choices made in attempt to numb the pain.
I know, I get it. I do not have to agree to understand.
Depression causes the highly intelligent person to produce the most outlandish thoughts. Depression causes desperation the majority cannot understand. Depression creates the lowest sense of self-worth imaginable, and depression creates separation.
Separation of truth, separation of reality, and separation of faith.
A Lasting Impression
One of the most beautiful experiences I ever witnessed was watching an aunt seek prayer for her depression. As a child, I was blessed beyond measure to have two of my great aunts as my neighbors across the way. I am grateful for their investment into my life and for the beautiful memories I had the privilege of making with them.
The final verse of the invitational hymn was played as she gracefully slipped from her pew. Down the outer isle to her left she proceeded toward the front with slow and methodical steps. Her weathered hand reached out slightly to glide along the wall. Standing reverently piano side, the pastor graciously stepped aside as she began to speak. “James tells us that if any of you are ill, call on the elders to pray over you. I am ill.”
That night my aunt became one of my heroes. She courageously stood in front of family, friends and strangers and proclaimed her desperate need for prayer in her battle with depression. To me, she was larger than life in her admitted weakness. She refused to be bound by the sound of silence.
I hope and pray you have discovered some new-found truths about depression. If you are in a battle with depression, please do not suffer in silence. You are loved, you are valued, and you are worth every effort. If you know or suspect someone is dealing with depression, please educate yourself and with great love reach out to them. God will direct you on how best to approach the situation.
Until next time, put forth every effort to meet someone at the greatest need today!!
To be continued…..
*Sound of Silence by Paul Simon, performed by Simon & Garfunkel 1964
**The Humanology Project-www.healthline.com
***”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 43:5, NLT)