*before you read this*
lest anyone be stressed by this, allow me to explain myself. it’s world suicide prevention week (depression and suicide? they’re besties). I think that awareness is a good idea. I’m also generally for being honest about the fact that sometimes life is hard. And if one person reads this and feels less crazy/alone/invisible then that’s the best thing. The very best thing. so I’m considering this my tiny contribution. Do I think God is able to defeat suicide/depression? yes. But I also believe He has given us each other, and we need to be seeking to understand one another and looking out for one another. You’re His body, yeah? Maybe He’s wanting to use you. So. Don’t read this as some kind of play for attention or whatever. I just sort of wanted to be honest about what it’s like when things just kind of suck. And I’m praying for people I love who feel this. I’m praying God would show me how to love them well. I’d be beyond honored to have you join me in that.
*okay, carry on*
This is what depression is like. It’s like you’re in a crowded room, with a bunch of busy, chattering people. But you have headphones in your ears. There’s no music in them, and they’re just deep enough in your ears to twinge a little bit. The way they fit blocks out a lot of the ambient noise from the room. You can still hear, of course, but in that echo sort of way. Anything you do, whether it’s breathe, swallow, or just quietly bring your back teeth together, is magnified loudly. And if you laugh it is absolutely deafening. So maybe you don’t do that. You can hear all your sounds. But when you try to listen to the words going on around you it’s blurred and hard to hear. Your breath is so loud, and the words someone is saying to you get kind of muddled and hard to follow. So you nod, smile, and hope that you are playing along in a way that is somehow convincing. But it’s all disjointed, and it takes you that extra second to process anything, anyway. It makes it so easy to just sit in the corner and pretend to be absorbed. But it’s not music. It’s a terrible blend of silence and the things you never think about. Who thinks about the sound of swallowing?
You’re hyperaware of everything that goes on in your mind. You’re aware of every wave of emotion, you feel every frustration and exhaustion. But you can’t quite get outside of yourself. And maybe it’s almost like you spend so much time trying to process what someone is telling you that you can’t quite muster up the actual emotion to feel about it. Which leaves you so alone, because nothing anyone can say to you seems to break through the haze. Depression is isolating.
And the thoughts and emotions are like waves. They break and crash. There are lulls and tides, but the waves keep coming. And you’re like a cliff face somewhere in the northeast, and each wave batters and pulls off a mouthful of rock and sand from the face of the cliff and carries it out into the deep water. Until the rocks are smooth and indistinguishable from years of unyielding water and stoic, unmoving rock. The erosion of your soul starts so slowly, but as the days stretch into weeks and months your supports weaken and each buffeting wave takes a little more and a little more until you are worn smooth. Until the whole cliff is unstable and slick with water. It’s not like sand, that swishes around in the skim of water at the beach, poured back with each wave. It’s rock, brittle and breaking and it doesn’t seem like the pieces ever go back together.
The fumbling for words is mortifying, and you hear every slipped syllable magnified in your brain like hearing your voice on a tape recorder. The prayers are like fingers in the cold, stiff and clumsy reaching for a key in a purse. The fine touch isn’t there, and every accidental bump and scrape stings in the iciness of the air.
The pain is almost a welcome thing. The openness of the deep part of the skin to the air stings in a way that assures you that you are here, in this moment. You learn to embrace the aches as the only thing that breaks through the fog. The deep cuts leave you exhausted, and leave scar tissue on your heart. Scars that, when stretched, pull and tear at the skin, clumsily opening. And with each one you become a little less mobile, a little less open. Until it is dense, thick, and knobbly around you like a dragon skin.
In the middle of January, it’s impossible to remember the concept of a sky that produces warmth. The sun seems like a glowing ball of futility when the wind is so cold on your face. You remember, like it was a dream, sitting in the summer sun and feeling the heat soak deeply into your skin. But in January, the warm days seem like something you must have dreamed. And it’s like that. You may know that a person or book or song has made you happy, but the warmth is gone. In fact, you can’t even imagine how that would have worked. How you would have survived out in the elements without the layers and layers of clothing you’ve piled on. In midwinter, summer clothing seems painfully exposing and impossibly light.
And in the isolation and the eroding and the fumbling and the scarring and the hiding…you are so far from things. It takes so much to pierce all of this…to move into the deep places of your heart. The books begin to pile half read on your nightstand, and the homework starts to snowball. Friends become a cursory thing. The things that do make it in bounce around until they seem harsh and mocking, like the song they play all the time on the radio.
It’s world suicide prevention week. It’s the week to light a candle in your window and look deeply into the eyes of a friend. It’s the week to get in the way before the apathy sets in so deeply that the disconnect is really already there. It’s the week to come by for no reason. To bake cookies. To say prayers. To listen. To ask. Someone dies in the US every fourteen minutes on purpose. Eventually it’s going to reach your life. This is the week to air out your own heart. To peel back the dragon skin and let the raw parts sit in the sun until they start to heal.
It’s more than a week. It’s living life deeply with people. It’s being able to notice when we shrink back into the dark. It’s choosing not to shrink away from the pain.
And if this is you, all locked up inside yourself…it is okay to be weak. It’s okay to need medication (seriously). It’s okay to be not okay. And if someone tries to put a bandaid over the gaping chest wound…it’s okay to be kind of frustrated. You don’t need to sit in guilt. And speaking from experience: if you keep lying about being okay then no one is going to know you need help. You can be honest (you can definitely be honest with me). It is okay to let your scars show, let them bleed. You want to jump back into the land of the living? Ask for help. Ask for love. Because somebody already went through the pain and isolation for you. Already has your scars. So no, you don’t ‘deserve’ it. But it’s been dealt with.
It can feel like you need to do something drastic to fix that relationship. To bring attention to the hurt. To shock some kind of feeling out of your heart. Listen to me. The relationship is fixed, and you are seen. The God of the universe came all the way to Earth because He saw your hurt. He saw your need to be made whole. And it is finished. There is nothing left for you to pay. It’s done.
I say this from a broken place. And don’t think for a second that I’m writing this from a place of inexperience. I know it’s not that easy. But hey…for what it’s worth I care. And I’m sorry. And I wish I could fix it.
Let’s stay strong, okay? together.