Depression is a dark demon many of us face. More of us than most would like to acknoweldge.
Yesterday, I discussed the importance of campaigns like Bell Let’s Talk, designed to ignite the conversation around mental health. In my post, I introduced you all to Jane, sharing her story and battle with the Canadian mental healthcare system.
Today, a friend of mine posted her own version of a plea for this campaign — a reminder to everyone this conversation needs to go on every day. The conversation today will help raise funds, hopefully for a better tomorrow. But all too often, after the gung-ho crowd of today fades into the darkness of tonight, they vanish.
Vanishing with them goes the conversation.
The loud reminder of what it’s like daily for those of us with mental health issues goes as well. Right now, before going any further, I’d like to invite you to not fade away. To keep your voice loud and clear about these issues. Even if the only way you can truly do that is to elevate the voices of those speaking out daily.
One thing many people don’t realize is there is no one-size-fits-all solution for mental illness. For some, like myself, medication is a necessity. For some like Jane, a mixture of medication and therapy seems to be what helps. Others, like my hero Clara Hughes, are capable of managing it with a proper diet and healthy amounts of exercise.
Tonight, the story I am sharing is of someone who has been able to find the strength through his faith. It’s a testimony I relate to because my own faith has played a major role in my own battle.
And, despite the criticisms of some, faith can be a pillar of strength in mental health battles.
**It’s worth noting it can also be your worst enemy, but that’s a different discussion for a different time.**
Josh is someone I’ve met only recently through an online community on Facebook. He’s funny, cheeky, and he’s proven to be a great person for a friendly debate and discussion.
I was thrilled when he was willing to open up to me about his struggles. Here is his story.
I struggle with depression, though I believe I have been freed from its control. It still haunts me, still sucks me down occasionally like some sort of emotional poltergeist. But it no longer controls my life.
I’ve dealt with [my depression] for 10 years or so, since I was 12. I didn’t figure out what it was until I was 17 or 18.
By that time, it was completely crippling.
I think, for me at least, the hardest part of depression was the feeling of complete isolation. Nobody I knew had ever dealt with something like this. And those that tried to help, while I appreciated their intentions, usually only did more harm than good because they didn’t understand.
The hardest moment was when I could finally see the way out and suddenly realized I didn’t want to. [Having become] so comfortable in my pain, finding freedom from it was something I found almost abhorrent.
I have never sought medical or professional help for it. Psychologists seem like they are always trying to put me in a category or box. I don’t like medicine or drugs, and unless I’m dying, I try to avoid them.
I don’t think they’re wrong or unhelpful. In fact, I would encourage someone struggling with depression to go get professional help. But, I like to think I can make it without medication or doctors.
The biggest problem I had was that no one seemed to understand.
No-one wants to listen; they just want to fix you.
I remember one conversation I had with the youth pastor of our church. I was talking about how hard I had tried to find God. [How hard I had] tried to find hope, to be a good person, to follow the Christian way, and all that.
I knew the answer to my problem was intervention by God. I knew once He showed up, everything would be OK. But I couldn’t find Him.
I reached this point where I realized I was dead. Literally, there was nothing I could do to even begin to save myself. I couldn’t find God — I couldn’t bring Him to me. I don’t know if I’m describing this correctly, but I finally realized how utterly powerless I was to do anything good.
My youth pastor responded with, “well it’s a covenant — you do your part and God will do His. You’ve got sin in your life that you need to clean up in order for God to move.” I have never respected his advice since.
The Church is completely clueless as to how to minister to those struggling with depression.
**This portion is in response to the question ‘what is the key to moving forward?’**
I’ve found incredible freedom since God spoke to me through Lacey Sturm’s book, The Mystery. As I’ve said, depression no longer has the death grip it once did.
I don’t think it will ever go away. In fact, I expect to have some difficult and dark bouts with it in the future. But I know God has rescued me from it, and I know He can again. I honestly think that the only true cure for depression is the Person of God. I don’t have any definite answer outside of that.
One thing I try to practice is an attitude of thankfulness — thankfulness to God for His grace in saving me when I thought I was too far gone. Thankfulness for sending Christ to die for me.
Thankfulness for anything and everything in my life.
It takes my eyes off myself and directs them towards Him. Depression is a disease of self. It turns you into a self-centered creature with no care or thought for others.
For those who do not believe in the idea of God, the second best advice I can give them is to focus on helping other people. Volunteer for soup kitchens, community events, visit people at retirement homes, or help out around the house. Anything to put your focus on others.
Seek to find Joy in making others happy. It may not cure you.