Dear Girl Battling Depression Alone:
How I wish I could hug you and let you cry in my arms. I would tell you how precious and beautiful you are, but you might not let my voice overpower the seemingly stronger one in your head. You see, I know, because I’ve been there. I know, because some days, I’m still there. But something has changed in my life – something that makes smashing that evil voice in my mind possible. No two people are exactly alike, and no one else will completely understand your own mental illness because, if I’m honest, most days I don’t even completely understand my own. But sweet girl, I want to tell you, I’ve found hope, and it’s offered for you too.
Therapy on its own never made a lasting impact on me, positive self-talk felt awkward, medication left me feeling “fuzzy”, and I can’t describe the irritation I had whenever someone told me I “just needed to have more faith in God.” My dear sister, the Lord never promised us that we would never have trouble: physically nor mentally. However, these people did have a point . . . Only the problem wasn’t that I needed more faith, I just needed faith period. Now that I follow Jesus I can have victories over my battles with depression, because of my faith and one other crucial element.
My dear friend, I know it seems like the best thing to do is to run and hide. I know that your soul is crushed when you realize the reason why the person you love snapped at you was because of your own irritability – when they were only trying to help. I know your mind tells you lies you believe some days because sometimes you’re just too exhausted from resisting. You’re not alone, I still struggle with resisting these lies.
Sister, I can guess you’re wondering why I’m writing this letter to you if I haven’t completely overcome depression myself. Trust me, I wanted to wait until I crossed that finish line too. But the truth is, this might be a battle that lasts a lifetime. I know I will be victorious over every fight, but my last victory might not allow me to write you this letter. Sweet girl, the reality is you might be fighting the same battles the rest of your life.
But the fact that you’re still fighting means you haven’t lost.
Sister, the secret is you can’t taste victory and find healing on your own. Trust me on this one – I pushed people away for almost six years after I was clinically diagnosed. It wasn’t until I started to follow Jesus that I found healing for my wounds. But something that I learned quickly was that I had to change my individualistic habits in order to be victorious in every battle. This meant I needed to depend on the relationships God blessed me with and be painfully transparent and vulnerable with my state of being.
When I cry out to them they are always there, by the grace of God, to speak Truth to me through my broken perspective and point me back to the One who can heal me. They remind me who I am: loved by the Most High God. They pray for me, they listen to me when I give ideas on how to help me, and then they act on it. These precious friends show me God’s love and grace. Girl, you need a friend like this. Preferably two or more. And girl, when you find these friends, never let them go. They are precious gifts from God himself. Never forget to communicate your gratitude to these friends, because they are showing you a kind of love that can only come from God when they do this for you.
Sweet girl, Jesus is making all things new, and I have faith that I won’t have to battle depression when I am finished with this race. But I praise the Lord because he has blessed me with friendships to help me through my trials and tribulations with depression on this side of heaven. And for that, I can have peace every day, even on the days I can’t find happiness.
I have said these things to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33, ESV)
Precious sister, no matter what helps you, whether it be counseling or doctor-prescribed medication, please know that these alone can’t replace what your soul needs: a relationship with your Creator and relationships with people around you. You are loved, you are unique, you have a purpose. But if you struggle with depression, you need strong relationships to depend on to fight back against the overwhelming lies. Depending on people is countercultural, but don’t keep walking away from the one thing I have found that actually works. Battling depression is a journey, but it’s not one we were meant to go through alone.