Posted by: JennyRain | October 3, 2006

The Voice of Depression

In an effort to practice what I preach and actively begin serving as a voice for the voiceless (see last week’s post), I have decided to publish a letter that I received from one my friends, Jill, about the disease of depression (shared with her permission).

Depression, at first, does not seem to have a voice. It quietly remains in its house, locks all the doors, and does not come out to play. If depression lives in your neighborhood, you probably will not even know it, but it is actively killing your neighbors and infecting your streets while you relax in front of the evening news. It is a cancer that eats its host – from the inside out – turning its recipient into a shell of their former existence.

Depression is destroying our country and we have been powerless to stop it because we can not hear its voice. Perhaps we have not learned to recognize its presence or heed its whispers because we do not know what it sounds like… Depression, at its worst, sounds like this:

Hello all! Please let this email find you in GOOD HEALTH knowing that you are loved by GOD and every hair on your head is numbered and counted by GOD. You are loved.

I just found out that a dear friend of mine killed herself.

We worked together years ago. She was a great lady, someone I clicked with. At the time she had two young boys — now those boys are 14 and 16. We traded emails and Christmas cards and phone messages over the years, but I have not seen her in a while. She came to my wedding.

I am telling you this because this woman had severe depression and I did not know it, maybe she did not either. I found out today that it was after our company closed up shop that she went into a downward spiral over a period of a few years and she reached the point of no return. Depression took over like a runaway train.

None of us are immune to depression.

She had a wonderful family, a big house in Potomac, MD, an amazing husband and a fruitful career. From all outward appearances, you would have never known she was depressed.

Depression is real and it is serious. We can deny it, we can ignore it, we can self-anesthetize or medicate and think we are fine, but if untreated depression will catch up with you at some point.

I think we sometimes swallow the myth that we can argue someone out of depression, talk them out of it, or make them feel guilty enough to suddenly realize “oh, this is destructive” and have a miraculous recovery. We tell them they just need “a bit more faith!”

Depression is gripping our society in record numbers and many of us still do not understand its destructiveness. We ca not help those stuck in the throes of depression if we have not taken the time to educate ourselves about it, or worse, if we are unable or unwilling to acknowledge and discuss it.

Depression is not just a destructive behavior that people can just change if they wanted to. Depression is a disease. It has a mind of its own and it has many forms: Anger, anxiety, fatigue, and irritability are big warning signs, among many others. You can have any one symptom and be depressed, it is not only characterized by stereotypical symptoms such as crying and sadness. By the same token, having one of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have depression either. Depression is complicated.

It’s hard for us to acknowledge we are having a hard time. We might say to ourselves “I’m okay,”or “I’ll be all right tomorrow” or “I don’t need anyone’s help” or “if only X-Y-Z would happen” (new job, new man, new car, more prayer etc.), then I will be fine.

It can be hard for us to swallow our pride and talk to a counselor. It can be difficult to acknowledge that we might need medication.

No amount of pride and dignity is worth death. And I am quite sure that my friend probably did not think it would ever get that far. Depression is relentless. It is a disease, not a state of mind.

We are not meant to be islands unto ourselves.

We are meant to be in community, sharing our struggles. Encouraging others to seek professional help if necessary, having intimate talks over coffee, sharing our pain, and wiping each others tears without judgment and without trying to FIX IT. If talking does not help, then seeking out an unbiased, professional third party who can help you wrap your mind around your struggle. I am always shocked at the number of people I know who refuse to see a counselor.

I hope that you believe God when He said that Jesus died so that you could have LIFE and have it abundantly. Not just a shell of a life that you grin and bear through and just barely survive and wonder every day “why me”. He died to give us HOPE that we can get beyond these things that grip us and try to steal our life. Bad things may happen but we are SO LOVED. Why do we stop believing that there is hope?

I pray that none of you goes through your life without taking that to heart.

If you have no idea how to take it in and believe that there really is hope, if you are thinking to yourself, what does that mean, it really doesn’t mean anything to me to hear why Jesus died. Please ask God to show you, teach you and reveal to you how to make it real, beyond the black and white on the page, beyond words that just sound trite, and far beyond a fleeting warm fuzzy feeling that will disappear as soon as you read this page.

I don’t want to have to delete anyone else out of my address book.

Your faithful friend…

Jill

all writings copyrighted by author (c) 10.2.2006

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Responses

  1. Jenny,
    Really Good! You are such a gifted writer – keep it up sister!
    Thanks for checking my blog.
    Blessings,


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