I have struggled with it since I was 12.
I am now 24 years old and have struggled with depression on and off for nearly half of my life.
And I am NOT alone.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), globally an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that approximately 15.4 million Americans (aged 18 or older) suffered from some kind of “depressive episode” in 2014. That’s 6.7% of U.S. adults. And at its worst, depression leads to suicide, which is the second leading cause of death in 15-29 year olds.
So why am I telling you this?
I’m telling you this so that you know that amongst the darkest of times in your life, there is still hope.
Regardless if you are dealing with depression or you’re just going through a rough time by dealing with the loss of a loved one, financial despair, past or current abuse, a hard break up with your boyfriend, or one of the other countless hardships that makes life seem dark and gloomy and just not great, this blog post is for you.
Recently, I hit a low point when my last living grandparent passed away. And whenever I hit a low point I am always afraid that I’m going to get sucked back into the dark black sea of depression and there will be no way out. Most of the time I am okay, but once in awhile I am sucked back into the darkness. This was one of those times. I got sucked down into the deep dark places of depression and I felt trapped. I constantly felt sad and numb and like all the joy and happiness that usually flow through me was gone forever. I had absolutely no motivation to do anything. I felt lifeless and more trapped than I had ever felt before.
Reaching out to others when you are depressed is SO HARD because it requires you to be vulnerable and honest with the fact that you’re in a not so good place and that you need help getting out of that not so good place. It took me weeks to work up the courage to reach out to a friend and tell her that I was in a dark place. In the midst of talking with my friend, I was reminded of something:
The Creator of the Universe is ALWAYS fighting for us (Exodus 14:14), even when we are too tired or stuck to fight for ourselves. Regardless if we are near or far from the Lord, he still cares for us, pursues us, and fights for us. He never leaves us and He never forsakes us. His love endures forever.
After realizing this, I started continuously praying that God would fight for me, that his truth would cover me, and that he would lift me out of my depression.
Father God, are you there? Do you see how my soul is downcast? I am lost and burdened and trapped. Darkness is all around me. Do you hear me, Lord? I don’t know what to do. I need you, Lord, oh how I need you. Father, bring me out of this and I will give you praises unending. Fight for me because my strength is wearing out. Father, I need you to save me and set me free from this.
After a few weeks of praying this distraught and desperate prayer over and over again, I felt God whisper to me, “I have already saved you, I have already set you free”, as I heard this, I glanced to my right where I had Romans 5:8 hanging on my wall:
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
There it was. God loves me and he died for me and he broke my bondage to sin before I even knew that that bondage needed to be broken. Christ knows that I am a sinner and he knows that you are a sinner. And the beautiful thing is that even though we are subject to getting stuck in the darkness, to being flawed, to not ever having it all together, to making countless mistakes…to being sinners,He loves us still.He frees us from the chains of depression and wipes our slate clean, so that we don’t have to respond to depression and we don’t have to give into it. He makes us pure as snow. He fights for us and gives us the hope and the strength to move forward, in all circumstances and hardships, no matter how bad things get. He is our refuge and strength. He is the everlasting God. And he can bring you out of anything.
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God,the Creator of the ends of the earth.He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint,and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;they shall mount up with wings like eagles;they shall run and not be weary;they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40: 28-31)
Our God is steadfast in love. He is everlasting. He does not grow faint or weary. His understanding is unsearchable. Isaiah 40 says that if we wait for the Lord he will renew our strength. He will lift us out of the deep dark waters of depression on wings like eagles. There is hope in that–that when we don’t have the strength to do anything but to remain silent, our beloved Father is fighting for us and will strengthen us. There is hope in the fact that regardless of how dark things may be, Victory has already been won.
Even the best fall down, sometimes, but with Jesus we can get back up and fight the good fight.
Below I have included some of the things that have helped me tremendously throughout my journey with depression. Even when I have no want or motivation to do them, I force myself to, because letting even the tiniest bit of light in helps:
- Force yourself to read the Scriptures even when you don’t want to, even when you don’t think you are “listening”, even when you are at your lowest of lows. Over time the Scriptures will breathe life back into you. Remember this, God’s word is our oxygen.
- Whatever you do, don’t isolate yourself. Instead, surround yourself in a community that will walk alongside you.
- Combat lies with truth. It is so easy to believe the twisted truths that play over and over in our minds. It is so easy to become a slave to the lies that we’ve spent so long embedding into our brains without realizing we are even doing so.
- Listen to worship music.
- Read My Name is Hope: Anxiety, Depression, and Life after Melancholy written by John Mark Comer.
- Pray. Even when you have no words, meet with the God of perfect peace who is full of understanding and love for you.
- Go to a quiet place and journal. Write down your thoughts and feelings. Work through your emotions. Bring yourself face to face with what is going on. Hiding from what is going on or making yourself numb to it won’t make things any better.
- Praise God even when things get slightly better. Some progress is much better than no progress.
- Seek Help. When things get really bad and you just don’t know what to do, remember that it is okay and perfectly normally to seek help. There is an array of helping professional out there that want to help you walk through the darkest of dark and the lowest of lows.
- Don’t give up and always keep fighting. Always keep fighting because the result is way better than the alternative.
Helpful Scripture: Worship Music:
Exodus 14:14 I Am Not Alone–Kari Jobe
Psalm 42 Thirst–Phil Whickham
Isaiah 40: 28-31 Hallelujah–Bethany Dillon
Psalm 34:17 I Can Feel You–Bethel Music
Psalm 18:28 Come As You Are–Crowder
Matthew 10:31 Never Once–Matt Redman
Psalm 100 We Fall Down–Passion
1 Peter 1:3-9 Shepherd–Bethel Music
Romans 5:6-8 Sinking Deep–Hillsong Young & Free
Remember that the beauty of hitting rock bottom is that things can only get better. But in all honesty, if you take anything away from this post, remember these two things: you are NOT alone and God IS constantly fighting for you.