For over seven years now I’ve been blogging about overcoming everyday situations and trials by sharing real-life stories and offering hope through applicable faith in Christ, asserting that through Him we can overcome anything life throws at us. While I whole-heartedly still believe this to be true, I must confess that I’m a fraud. At age fifty-eight I am finally coming to grips with the reality that I’ve been battling demons of depression for most of my adult life. It is something I’ve denied to myself-I have it altogether too much to be depressed-I’m too cool and laid back to suffer mental issues-I’m too spiritual to be defeated by depression. The fact is it has cost me two marriages and a beautiful relationship and I can’t hide behind the façade any longer. I know scripture and tell others how to apply it in their lives-I’ve written two books to help others while I myself have been completely incapable of applying it in my own life.
The sad part is that I can’t honestly determine why I feel this way. I had an amazing childhood, Godly supportive parents, a great family life. I had no serious traumatic events that would trigger such emotions in other cases. I just can’t seem to find joy in everyday life. I am notorious for snatching sorrow from the jaws of happiness. I can find joy in situational events but I can’t find peace everyday as a way of life. Even when I am in the best of personal situations, I tend to screw it up by allowing these demons to overpower my thinking. As the Apostle Paul stated, what a wretched man I am.
It is said that those who struggle with chronic illnesses like mine often suffer from depression, but my illness has only exaggerated what has been there all along. I find little joy in just living life and my smile has seemed to disappear as quickly as it came. The frustrating part is not being able to pinpoint exactly why I feel down most days. Perhaps it’s genetic, maybe just demonic, I don’t really know. What I do know is that it has cost me way too many things in my life and I have to fix it or end up a person no one wants to be around. I don’t do solitude well.
Some might suggest that true believers could never suffer from depression. Really? Tell that to David as he hid in the wilderness when he asks similar questions. “why is my soul so downcast?”. Tell that to Elijah as he was hiding from Jezebel asking God to just end his life. Tell that to Job after his great losses as he is recorded as asking why he just didn’t die at birth. To make a believer who battles depression feel like they just need a little more faith is a disservice to them-it’s not a faith issue.
Some might say that we choose to be depressed and we just need to choose not to be-to snap out of it if you will. Trust me, I don’t choose to feel this way. I didn’t choose two failed marriages. I didn’t choose to fail as a parent. I didn’t choose to fail in business. Depression is not a choice, a mere on-off switch that I control. If only it were that easy.
Some might say look around you, there are people far worse off than you are. Be grateful you aren’t like them. That doesn’t help either. The truth is I am fully aware that so many more people suffer much worse than I do. That acknowledgement only adds to my shame and guilt. I see the plight of others who are going through much more difficult seasons and I feel for them, but my depression remains and I feel even worse in comparison.
The depression I suffer from isn’t one of hopelessness or despair. It is not as if I feel Life isn’t worth living. What I experience many times is just an overwhelming sense of numbness, non-emotion, flat-lining. No highs or lows, just existence. At times it’s a heaviness, sometimes a fog. I can function on a daily basis but with no outward signs of joy or peace. And yet on bad days I can cry over a TV commercial. It is embarrassing and unexplainable. I have a problem that has haunted me since my early twenties and I have to face it once and for all in order to find healing and peace.
So what now? First, I’m going to take some time off from blogging for awhile and work on getting myself better. I have a long journey ahead of me both physically and mentally. I’m going to seek out sources of help and surround myself with positive brothers who don’t mind getting their hands a little dirty while I exorcise these demons of depression, inadequacy and insecurity. It will be a long uphill road. I will look for ways to remind myself daily that I’m not alone in my struggles and that many good men have traveled this path before me and have navigated their way to good mental health and stability. I will fight the feeling of guilt over past broken relationships and work on doing whatever I can do now to mend them and find some confidence that I won’t endanger future relationships should I ever decide to go down that path again. I won’t expose anyone else to these demons because I refused to face them myself.
I wish there was an easy fix. I wish this was something I didn’t have to do on my own, but isolation at some level has to be part of the process so that I can find peace with who I am and who God created me to be. I ashamedly offer this confession only because I suspect there are others like me who may be experiencing the same feelings of guilt and embarrassment over the stigma of depression or mental health issues. None of us are perfect-none of us are beyond help. If you are reading this and you are like me, hiding behind something so painful to confess, I encourage you to drop your guard and seek relief. I don’t know how many years I have in this life but I want-I need those years to be a much better quality of life then I’ve experienced to date by doing whatever is necessary to be whole physically, mentally and spiritually. I wish you peace, joy and fulfillment until the time comes when I am comfortable blogging again. God bless you.