I fully realize that this post may seem to come out of left field, but after few recent conversations I’ve had with people concerning this topic, I realized that I feel much more strongly about it than I was previously aware of. Last night I scribbled away in my journal (yes, I keep a written journal. Nothing helps me process things quite like the physical act of writing. My heart and brain literally feel scrubbed clean after I write.), and I cannot help but feel I need to share some of my scribblings here.
So here goes.
You cannot ever, ever presume to know the depth of a person’s hurt. When a hurting, depressed person is told that they are not really depressed, but simply faking it, or worse yet, being a baby, the pain of this invalidation is far worse than the actual pain itself.
I’ll say it again:
You cannot presume to know the depth of a person’s hurt.
That is more painful to them than the hurt itself.
When you are depressed, it is like drowning. Desperately clawing your way to the surface, coming so close, so very close…
And then someone puts out their hand and shoves you back down. Over and over again.
It is a cycle of hurt. Different levels of hurt for different people, different reasons. We do not know how deep the hurt goes, and we can sit by in arrogant presumption, or we can reach into the murky water, grab their hands, pull them out, and say:
Breathe. You are safe. I will be a safe place for you. No judgement, no assumptions.
And that is all.
Be with them in the most loving way you can. Don’t try to “fix”. Don’t try to get them to talk. Be a safe place, because right now, everything hurts. Everything is frightening and painful, and they can hardly begin to allow themselves to dare to imagine that life may not always be so incredibly painful.
Let me be clear:
Life will always have moments of pain. Life will not be without pain.
But to live a life in which you do not feel as though your heart is constantly breaking…
They need to know and feel that this is a very definite possibility, because sometimes it’s that split second of imagining that possibility that causes them to see the smallest sliver of light, the draw the smallest gasp of air; to slowly, very slowly…
Begin to heal.
I do not know what your healing journey will look like. Healing from depression comes in many ways, many forms. Give yourself the grace to do whatever is necessary to bring about healing. Seek out a wise counselor. And those people, the ones who heap hurt and guilt upon you because “you’re not trusting the Lord enough” or “If you were really seeking the Lord, you wouldn’t be feeling this way”??
They say those horrific things because you and I both know they have no clue what it is like to be depressed. They are toxic and have no place in your journey.
Depression is very, very real. People who were very “spiritual” dealt with it all the time in scripture. Psalm 69 has often been my own cry for help:
“Save me, O God; for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire. I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me. I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me.” v. 1-3, NLT
Even King David faced many times when the hurt of life was too great for his wild heart. But we also have the immense beauty and hope of God’s promises:
Psalm 71: 20-21, NLT: “You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but You will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again.”
There is always hope. Believe it, friend. Don’t try to do this alone. Find your tribe of support. Dismiss the naysayers, because they don’t have a clue. They do not know your hurt. Say it to yourself: I am not alone in this. I am not alone in this.
Psalm 18:4-6, NLT: “The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destructions swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path. But in my distress I cried to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from His sanctuary; my cry to Him reached His ears.”
God hears you. He sees you. He knows. Take heart. You are not alone in this.