Friends, I wish I could see your faces. I need us to circle up and have a very real conversation. We need to be able to see one another for who we are, human to human. This week has scrubbed many of us raw. Countless people are reeling from the choice that two prominent culture icons made to end their lives. For many, its not about the people themselves, but what it stirs up in them. For others, it is the total disbelief that success does not protect you from pain. However this news has hit you, we have to talk about the heart of the matter. Depression knows no boundaries. It does not matter where you are from, your family of origin, the color of your skin or the amount of money in the bank, we are all broken human beings with souls that desperately need help fighting the lies that threaten in the darkest places of the mind. More people than you can even fathom have battled and are currently battling for their very lives, I know, because I was one of them.
I remember what it felt like to long for release from my pain that was so dark and all-encompassing I couldn't see even a sliver of light. I remember the feeling of my fingers digging into the steering wheel as my body willed itself not to drive off the road even though my mind was screaming for it to do so. I remember how badly I scared my friends. I remember how much I hurt my parents. I remember how much I didn't really care that I was doing that. It was like the pain inside of me had numbed my ability to feel anything outside of the lies that played in my mind over and over again, undaunted, relentless to my pleas for them to stop. I remember that I had all the answers. I remember praying the prayers and saying all the things that were supposed to make it go away. I remember shaming myself with the good girl in the pictures on the wall and the expectations and “shoulds” that surrounded her. I remember when someone finally told me that I was sick and that there were people and medicine that could help me. I remember when someone told me it was OK for me to be sick and still be loved by Jesus. I remember knowing that God had provided people with skills to battle demons I couldn't even name. I remember the day that I realized I spent more time thinking about living and not about dying.
Does that mean that I have never struggled again? No. But hope and healing have buried themselves in my soul and I have surrounded myself with people who go to war with me against the dark. They see my trigger points. They know the warning signs. They hear the tremor in my voice or the sweet lie I tell them to try and get past the point. Some, I pay to be there because it is their calling and their profession to do the dirty work of battling the anxiety and depression demon. I need them. I will most likely always need them. I'm OK with that. The others in my life, they look the ugly dead in the eye, call it for what it is and call me back into the light in my day in and day out.
Friend, if you can relate to anything I said, I wish I were holding your hand. I want you to hear me: You are not alone. You are loved. You are wanted. You matter. You were created for this life and I know it hurts but I PROMISE that this is not how the story ends. If you are hurting, say it. Call it out. And then, beloved, you cannot do this alone. The narrative in your mind, as palpable as it is to you, it is singing you a toxic song. It is crippling you, just like it crippled me. I remember the cold tiles of the floor where I lay there in the dark, unable to move. It makes me think of another man, bound to a stretcher, his friends were determined to do whatever they could to help him. They heard of a Healer, a Teacher. They tried to get near Him, but the crowd was too much. Too loud. Not welcoming. Too much to bear. Instead of giving up, they climbed up to the roof of the building where the Healer was teaching and they tore the roof off and lowered their friend down until he was at the feet of Jesus. When we let them, when we tell someone that we need help, those stretcher bearers will stop at nothing to get us to help and healing. I'm not saying its easy. I'm not saying its instant, but I am saying there is more for you than this. Your pain is real, but so is hope.
If you a person who was like me, and loves Jesus, but felt like His love would somehow be taken from you or be changed because of this battle, let me speak into that right now. THAT IS A LIE. You are loved as you are. He weeps with us in our pain. He draws near to the broken hearted and the crushed in spirit. He said that He knows in this world we will have trouble. He knows that you are sick. He knows there are days you cannot make yourself get out of bed. He has given people knowledge and insight to come alongside you and provide healing for your mind and for your soul. Yes, praying is powerful. Yes, scripture is needed. Getting additional professional help is not shameful, nor is it sinful. You are not a lost cause. You are not a screw up. You are not alone. You are loved. You are wanted. You matter.
The people who love you want to fight for you and with you, let them carry you to help and healing. If its too scary to tell someone you know how you are feeling, call 1-800-273-8255. If you are someone who is battling the lies in the dark, but you somehow feel your struggle is less because you do want to live, but you can't seem to find your way, tell someone. Your struggle is NOT less. Your struggle is real and I know for a fact if you told someone, they would come lay in the floor with you. If you don't know what to say, but you just need to take the next step of saying it out loud, please feel free to message me. It would be an honor to encourage you and help you know that your heart has been heard. I hope and pray that if anything comes out of this very long post at all, it is that one person feels seen, and in that a sliver of light is slowly appearing across the floor you are laying on. I also hope, one person feels the courage to approach someone they know and just pick up their stretcher. Look around this circle, friend. We need each other. You are loved. You are wanted. You matter.