Chances are, everyone who reads this will either have suffered themselves, or known someone who has suffered from depression. This blog is for both of you.
Depression isn’t usually something people like to talk about. Those that suffer from it stay isolated with it and those that don’t are totally unaware of what to say about it or how to act around it, so it gets ignored, or even worse - judged.
I can recall a time in my twenties when I was suffering from depression and kept it hidden as best as I could from my friends and family. It was a miserable time, and I was 100% convinced that one of the following statements were true:
1. Everyone knows that I’m depressed but they don’t really care enough about me to reach out.
2. No one cares enough about me to realize that I’m depressed.
Both of those beliefs fueled my depression to last longer. I wasn’t sure which one it was for sure, but they both had the same outcome:
“No one cares!”
I’ve come to believe now that depression is the result of a lack of joy. Joy is the brain’s reaction when someone is glad to be with you.
Depression is the brains reaction when it believes that no one is glad to be with you.
Joy is not the opposite of depression; it’s the antidote for depression.
When two brains get together and are glad to be with one another, the brain can’t help but respond.
So, for all you “friends and family” out there, I have a few do’s and don’ts for you.
Don’t pretend you don’t know that they are feeling depressed, or down, or sad, or hopeless.
Do come close and let them know that you care. Come close and let them know that you are glad to be with them.
Don’t expect them to “cheer up” at your command.
Do invite them to tell you how they feel and synchronize with them as they do. Even if they can’t “tell you”, synchronize with that! We’ve all come to that point where we don’t even have words for how we feel and that is an isolating feeling. We don’t even “get” ourselves! Help them to see that even if you haven’t experienced exactly what they are experiencing- you do have a front row view and it looks hard.
Don’t force them to talk.
Do stay “glad to be with” them even in the silence.
*Now, if you are the one that is fighting depression- know this- you are not alone. You might feel terribly alone, but you are not alone. What you’re feeling and what you’re going through is really, really hard, there’s no doubt about that. When someone comes to be with you let them in. Glance in their eyes- even if you can only do it in quick moments. Be open to considering the possibility that even if they don’t know what to say or do- they are there because they care about you.
Let the hope grow! Plant this seed that I’m offering you in your mind for the future. This seed is small and won’t seem like much right now, but it’s bursting with hope and “aliveness” that can take root in the darkest of places.
Someone does care. Let me say it again.
Someone DOES care.
Someone does CARE - about you!
When you are in despair and everything has lost its color and flavor- and you’re at your weakest point, know this: Jesus, Immanuel, God With Us, is right there by your side unreservedly glad to be with you.
His “glad to be with you” is strong enough to break through those beliefs that keep you imprisoned in this pit of depression. Let this seed of joy begin to infiltrate the places in your brain that are so sure that no one cares.
As you ponder this seed it will grow. It will spread out roots that push out the painful “nothingness” and create holes where light can come in.
When the light hits those little seed roots, they will grow even faster and eventually when you see Immanuel’s arms wrapped around you in your sadness, joy will break off the depression that protected that sadness so fiercely.
The truth is Jesus is okay with your sadness. He can be with you in your sadness and He can protect the value of your sadness with life and light.
Go ahead, take a peek, look and see,and discover that He is glad to be with you. Always.
originally written for Life Model Works
*If your depression requires medication under the direction and supervision of a doctor do not stop that medication until directed by him or her to do so!