When I am depressed – I admit it in a straight forward manner.
“I’m a little down. Well, sorta… a little. But it’s better today.”
People don’t know what to do with such bold confession. Some will venture a question, “What are you feeling?”
“Oh, you know,” I say. They look at me, “No, I don’t.”
“It’s just been stressful, that’s all. I’m just tired – not sleeping all that well. It will pass.”
I am getting a little irritable from their incessant questions. But I answer, “Oh, not that long.” Silence… “Maybe since that party.”
“That was 5 weeks ago,” they say.
“Yeah,” I answer – resisting sarcasm about their math ability. They are still looking at me. My breathing is shallow and I am feeling uncomfortable. I want to go somewhere to be alone – without all these eyes. That’s what I’ve been doing lately. Staying home, sitting in my chair. Anything but more talk. Holding up one end of a conversation feels like holding up one end of a couch. They could stand there holding it all day long. But I just want to put it down.
Even a light conversation is too heavy. And too complicated. “Did they ask a question? Do they expect an answer? Am I supposed to tell a story now? They want me to laugh – but I didn’t understand the joke. Depression feels like being lost in a foreign city trying to find the right train. Everything is moving too fast. Everything is just too hard.
Or maybe I’m just too dumb? Being around all these chatty, laughing people who seem to know where they are going – makes me feel stupid and dull. The feeling is hard to shake. More reason to be alone. I don’t feel so helpless then.
So I pull away. I sit in my chair and think about all the things that I am not doing. The yard needs mowing. I don’t care – yet I still feel guilty about it. I feel like people are looking at my yard and shaking their heads. They will probably come to my door and ask more questions. I dread the knocking; I cringe if the phone rings. Why do I even have a yard? Or a house?
Sometimes at this point, I consider asking for help. I remember my friend’s kind face, “You’ve been feeling this way long?” I think about calling him. But that would mean another conversation, it would mean feeling weak, and he would ask me to make decisions and do things. So I sink further into my chair.
But I have been here before. And every time I am glad when I finally ask for help. As burdensome as talking about pain is, it is a relief to not carry it alone. It is difficult to breathe out the words, “I think I’m depressed.” But “breathing out” necessitates a “breathing in” afterwards. Breathing in is reassuring; I can still do it.
Confession is always the beginning of the recovery from depression. In fact, it is the beginning of all recoveries. Such is the beginning of the Christian life; such is all renewal.
Oh, so hard to do. But it starts you breathing again.
Perhaps you might be wondering if you are depressed. Below is a list of the typical symptoms (some of which you will find underlined in the above description).
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
- Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
- Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
- Restlessness, irritability
If you are experiencing these symptoms, perhaps it is time to admit it yourself and someone else.
We are holding a seminar this Saturday entitled “Hope in the Darkness: Walking with Individuals and Families Impacted by Depression” at Quail Hollow Presbyterian Church. It will run from 9am to 1pm on the 27th, and there is still space available. To learn more and to register please visit http://hopeinthedarkness2013.eventbrite.com/#.
Roger Edwards joined The Barnabas Center in 1991. In addition to counseling individuals and couples, Roger teaches and leads discussion groups about applying the Bible to everyday life. He is a licensed professional counselor, holds a master’s degree in biblical counseling from Grace Theological Seminary in Indiana and earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is married to Jean, and they have seven children.