This is not the first time darkness tried to win against light.
I’ve been in and out of depression, had anxiety attacks, been lost way too many times in the past years. Today I am in a much better place, praise God. But now even as I think of those days, a shadow of heavy is cast over me. Those were tough, tough times. How did I ever survive those days without resorting to self-harm, or worse, suicide?
This morning, we lost another creative soul, a wonderful musician – Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington – to depression. A lot of my pre-teen years have his band’s songs playing in the background. Tweets and reactions of people worldwide tell us that Chester had helped a lot of people in their personal struggles through his music, and a lot were frustrated that nobody was able to help him.
A lot of artists suffer from serious mental health struggles like depression and anxiety. Paramore’s lead vocal Hayley Williams said this in a tweet, “artists are ppl compelled to bring beauty into a world that can be so dark. makes sense then that artists are always conscious of darkness..”
That is true. Oftentimes darkness feels like storm cloud hovering over us. It is so often a battle, and the enemy is so, so good with lies. All its attacks are personal, against the rules, below the belt. Darkness shows no mercy.
One of my favorite authors helped me a lot in battling depression. (Side note: it’s amazing to me, that artists help other artists go through life through the things they create. Keep creating light!) This author often had lead characters going through serious personal struggles, similar to depression, and how do his characters deal with it? They stay up all night, segregating lies from the truth.
This has been so helpful to me, because depression is a season of lies. You’re not good enough. Nobody cares about you. It’s not gonna get better. This is the worst possible situation. You should stop caring. There’s no use in getting up. The voices are pretty loud, too. But painstakingly confronting every single voice is the way to do the battle. Not every voice you hear is telling you the truth. If you close your eyes and listen, listen, listen – you’ll hear a voice that calls you beloved. Whispers life. Says, “do not be afraid, I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
That voice is Jesus. The light to my darkness.
In John 1:4-5; In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
To be gritty honest, and now in hindsight, I will not trade my seasons of depression for anything in the world, because those seasons showed me Jesus in ways I could not have ever experienced otherwise. Do I want to go through them again? No. Do I wish for others to experience the same thing? No. But God has used those dark, dark days to show Himself – the contrast, the life-Giver, my everything.
I am not here to explain depression, or to cure it. I can’t do that. But today, if you feel like you’re at the end of things and clinging on to absolutely no hope, please know that depression has an end. A finish line. It’s not infinite. I know right now it feels like the most permanent thing ever but that’s a lie, too. Because it’s not. (I remember worrying about marrying, having kids, having a career when I was depressed. Surely no one would marry a perpetually depressed girl like me. Back then it did feel permanent.)
And when the end of it finally comes, oh boy. It is the most wonderful feeling ever. I have been trying to write about it but I fail every time, because the life that comes back rushing isn’t like anything I’ve ever experienced. In my case, it came in slow waves. Suddenly I found myself laughing with friends again. Crying over sappy movies. Having enough strength to get up from bed and comb my hair. Color floods back in. You notice the way your friends smile, you haven’t seen that one before. Light floods back in. Life floods back in. Every cell in your body is screaming, happy, grateful to be moving! Everything feels sore and tender and you’re scared that tomorrow it will all be gone, but it won’t. The next day is bright, brighter, – it’s over now. The rains came back wherever they were from.
What I’m saying is; please stick out for this end. Watch yourself warm up again. Hold on as looong as you possibly can. Depression ends, I promise you that. You can outlive it if you just held on, weighed the voices, ran to Jesus. Get professional help. There is no shame in that. If that needs to be your brave first step today, do it. Call a counselor. Tell your parents, maybe your friends, a teacher you can trust. They’ll help you find somebody. Heck, you can even tell me even if we never met. Let’s find help.
No shame in wanting to be better. You will be better.
I am praying for you, reader. Life is wonderful. Please stay here.