“I didn’t choose this! I feel like I am constantly under attack and I can’t seem to dig my way out of the cave.”
Depression is real. For those suffering from depression, the pain is real, and the despair can be tangible.
Dr. Kim Eckert, describes depression so vividly in her article When Darkness Surrounds You1
“Depression. Anxiety. Loss. Failure. Loneliness. Exhaustion. Illness. All of these can feel like a cave trapping you and sucking you further into darkness. Critics may tell you there is no cave and it’s not real and just get over it. And oh how you want to get over it. How desperately you long to move on and let it go and be free and walk in the light of the day. And you crawl toward what you hope is an opening and search for the light, but sometimes the darkness surrounds you on every side.”
Though Dr. Eckert’s article was written during the holiday season, depression and anxiety don’t always follow the calendar. Either condition might be triggered by a sudden job loss, a marital issue, a crisis with your child or any other life event. Even celebrations can move the needle in the mind in the wrong direction causing despair or stress.
Understanding depression is way above my pay grade, but one thing I am certain of is the fact that it is personal. Each cave of depression is decorated with the cobwebs of experience and perception that no one else can fully understand…except God.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
For those suffering from depression or other mental illnesses, the cave can feel like a dark and permanent residence. Friends and family may want to visit, peak into the dark abyss to offer support, but they don’t stay long. The only Person who moves in and promises never to leave is Jesus. He stays there offering His comfort and His embrace.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Only Jesus knows what depression looks like for each person. We can sympathize, and some can even empathize, but the burden of cave-like depression begs for Jesus to shine His light in the darkest corners and lay down a carpet of peace and joy where there was none.
Each of us has a burden to bear: some physical, some emotional, some mental, financial or even spiritual. Lifting up our brothers and sisters in prayer, delivering a meal or offering a shoulder are all ways we can be “Jesus with skin on.” We can accept the reality and not feel we know the solution. Yes, continue to invite him or her over for dinner or to a soccer game. Ask what you can do to help and intercede on their behalf. Do what you can to reach out to the person in pain.
And, as Dr. Eckert points out,
“So often the darkness feels like a tomb, and my prayer is that your darkness will ultimately give birth to something new and beautiful and life-giving.”2
1 Eckert, Dr. K. (2015, Dec 19). When Darkness Surrounds You. Retrieved from Dr. Kim Eckert website: http://drkimeckert.com/blog/when-darkness-surrounds-you
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