This morning I awoke with three simple words burning in my mind and asking me to express them with my heart: I know depression.
I know depression and its trail of tears and awaking fears that seem to at times know my every move. I know what it’s like to be the funniest person in the room and light up faces with laughter, only to feel like the loneliest person in the world alone in the dark.
I know depression and its lifelong tease of being an “oddball” that seems to set me apart in my own mind. I know the feeling of displaying brilliance and talent through words and performance, while struggling to find a sense of self-worth at the same time. When I see the genius of an actor or hear the emotion in a singer’s voice or stand in front of the masterpiece of a visual artist, I know without a doubt that they have experienced this angst too. The need to express what cannot otherwise be expressed in a world that seems to only honor performance more than vulnerability. We can only be vulnerable when we perform, otherwise…make sure you say: “All is well” when asked “How are you?”
I know depression mixed with Christianity which sometimes feels like a molotov cocktail of confusion waiting to explode inside. The erroneous concept that your sadness has to do with a lack of faith, love of God or sin, makes my anger burn at times. I know the moment of realization that the “friends” that you have confided in about your secret angst will only stay around long enough to “minister” you through the moment, so that there will be no stain on their conscious or liability for them, should you take a turn for the worse and exit the planet without permission.
I know depression…
Because of this life long battle, I have been privately introduced to the only One that knows me, sees me and understands my every thought. In light of this condition I whole heartedly admit without shame, that I know a God who is bigger than depression.
He speaks in beautiful pictures to my tired soul and gives me hope that I may have something of wonderment to give to this huge enraged world. When tears fall down my face and surround my heart over the passing of a loved one, the fallout with my child, the murder of another innocent black male, the sounds of war and dying children and other innocent lives, the racial tension back in full swing in my country, the death of my favorite actor…He tucks me under His wing and allows me to cry and begs me to write a message to my friends. Even when I can barely see my screen and I am suppressing my sobs. He brings me to a cottage just 200 feet from the ocean and sits me in a window seat and asks me to send a note of hope to those who know depression too.
I know a God who does not mind my anger, or questions or stillness when I feel that I can do no more. He seems to show up in my dreams with abstract answers to concrete needs. I have clutched His hand for so long that I now know how to decipher such dreams and I find it humorous at times.
I know a God who knows that my favorite place on earth is with sand and waves. He paints blue skies and billowy white clouds along with seagulls and such for my entertainment. He invites me every year, come hell or high water. No matter what devastation that has occurred in my world and He saves a front row seat just for me. This year, He has clearly outdone Himself. Perhaps it was because of a most difficult season that I am just passing through or the fact that there are words that need to be re-awakened within me or simply because He loves me. This year is the best retreat so far.
My message to my friends and those who know my words:
If you know depression, you are not alone or odd or crazy or mentally unstable. You simply are at times, depressed. The key, the secret, the hope I have for you my friend before you decide that nothing else can be done and that the sun will never rise again or that war will never cease and religion has made us all mad with guilt and shame…the secret is to know someone, some force of Universal Awe greater than yourself. Know that there is no question too big or no tear too tiny for the God of the universe to answer, to touch, to wipe away.
I beg you, not to leave too soon. There is a message inside of you that we need to hear. Speak, from your pain. Speak from your joy. Simply, speak from your heart…we’re listening.
In loving memory of one of my favorite actors and all-around genius minds. I remember you today and all that you gave but sadly never received in return…
*There is no shame in needing medication, counseling or the listening ear of a friend, no shame at all. I have done all three and am now content with the company of God and my closest friends.