Because GOD DOES NOT RESIDE IN THE NEON PLASTIC CREVICES OF YOUR BULLSHIT HAMSTER WHEEL.

It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.

//

It was not a silence that was malleable. 

It sat, 

intimate and brittle, 

like a flute of champagne atop a banister, daring entropy. 

It echoed out into the recesses of the heavens like a question that admits no answer but must itself exist, ringing unanswered through the ages. 

The dome that held the stars had often soared higher as she watched, inviting her further up, 

further in. 

“Ask more. Believe more,” the stars used to cry, but tonight –

they were silent.

She crumpled in a heap on the wet grass, thankful to be away from the eyes of all who loved her and would hate to see her sink into the darkness that she could no longer hold quite at bay. 

The dark sank into her heart like the nighttime around her, enveloping and permeating and veiling until she could no longer imagine her own face but silently repeated, trembling, all of the things that she knew and could no longer feel. 

//

Depression is not a disease. 

Depression is not make-believe. 

Being depressed does not make me a child, a monster, or a joke. 

Not that I believe it can’t be feigned. 

But based on the thinly veiled fear I find in my friends’ eyes when they catch me at my darkest, 

people I know to be astute, experienced, emotionally nuanced sorts of people, 

all that calls itself depression might not be. 

And people tell me that I don’t pray enough. 

They tell me to stand up & rebuke the spirit of ingratitude or hopelessness or whatever the demon du jour. 

“Get a hold of yourself.”

“Get your shit together.”

“SNAP OUT OF IT.”

Stop being so self-centered. 

(Self-centered really is the worst epithet these days, isn’t it? When a proper understanding of the search for self is not cultivated, then our continual denial of its existence can only lead to despair in those like me who are not content to view life at its surface level.)

I’ll give them one thing – depression is a breeding ground for extreme introversion & painfully sharp self-awareness. 

One minute you’re trying to not be seen because the social anxiety is so strong that you can almost believe that every passerby can see the tangible darkness that never does quite leave you. 

Some days you are launching yourself at the nearest breathing human body or, even better, group of bodies because the more people that surround you, the more chance there is of pawning off just a paperweight’s worth of the MILLSTONE around your neck on an unsuspecting acquaintance. 

You are welcome to try and tell me that my problems are not all that bad. I’ll sigh and I’ll agree. You’re right. It could be worse. 

And that is why depression is NOT sadness. 

I’m not sad. 

I’ve been sad. 

I’ve watched beloved family waste away & sink into death, I’ve been *sigh-yawn* heartbroken more than once and I’ve watched the dearest of my friends wander carelessly, aimlessly away from me. I’ve lost all of my worldly possessions a time or two and I’ve watched “home” disappear more times than I care to recall.

I’ve had some sad. 

Depression is [often] an actually physiological reaction to the actual horror of the world we live in. Nausea. Paralysis. Fever. 

“When the darkness hits me,” she said, “it’s often triggered by actual circumstances, but the heaviness stems from feeling, after my momentary sad has passed away, the enormity of the sorrow of the world we’re from. 

It’s like every tear that anyone has ever cried for anyone they’ve ever loved suddenly comes thronging in, in a merciless wave of raw empathy, and I suddenly cannot stand.”

And that’s why it hurts when well-meaning loved ones tell you to get over yourself. 

Get over myself, sure. I’d love to. But get over all the ancient sorrow of the sin and separation that our world has brought up on itself? Not likely. 

Look on the bright side, they say. Quote Philippians 4:8 at me a few more times. Go on. Make my day. You were going to anyway.

“Whatever is right, whatever is true, whatever is lovely… think on those things.”

Christians can be the most heartless of people. 

And I know that sometimes the ones who yell loudest need the most convincing themselves. 

I make allowances for you dear,

you loud,

you proselytizing, you spiritualizing, 

you hungry, you bankrupt, 

you so-anxious-to-stave-off-the-darkness-that-you-must-silence-those-who-swim-in-it.

I love you. I do. 

Keep running your little philosophical, faux-theological hamster wheels until your empty hearts give out. 

I will be here to catch you when you run out of answers. 

Because GOD DOES NOT RESIDE IN THE NEON PLASTIC CREVICES OF YOUR BULLSHIT HAMSTER WHEEL. 

We could argue out that he’s actually everywhere, and I would probably agree with you, 

but I will argue to my grave that you will NOT FIND HIS PRESENCE THERE. 

Because God is out here, 

in the darkness, 

in the pain, 

in the sorrow so strong that every nook, every cranny of our lives reeks with the stench of, 

where we all actually live & you pretend not to see. 

I can’t imagine what it must be like to walk around with those enormous horse-blinders on everyday and try to somehow function. I don’t envy you. 

I am out here bathing with King David in a few stray rays of sunlight outside the city gates, 

finding the heart of God when I am able to see him as refuge and not as perpetrator. 

I weep with Jesus, with Isaiah, 

with a thousand mourning prophets over lost generations, 

with Solomon, with Paul, with Rachel, 

refusing to be comforted until kingdom come. 

Because my depression, horrible as it sometimes is, is also my strength. 

I can actually weep with the weeping. I can rejoice with the rejoicing. 

My tears go deeper and so do my joys. I wrestle with life. I am always exhausted. Every single day of my life is a battle and when I tell you that dying would be a relief, I am in no way suicidal. 

I will go on fighting as long as my war lasts,

but I will also end happily – joyfully! – when my time is done.

And when the darkness seeps in and you cannot stand on your sandy foundation of cheerful platitudes anymore,

I will hold you, dear blind,

dear light, breezy, superficial one, 

dear starved, dear in denial, 

I will hold you. 

 

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3 comments

  1. Susan

    So true! All of it. You can tell when someone has really experienced or is experiencing this. Words like – sinking, darkness, pain – all of these are such vivid and real words of description. Being told to DO anything at all is an insurmountable task. It can’t be done. Pray more? Read your Bible more? Those words only drive me deeper because I can’t do more! The only comfort, the only balm for the soul is hearing of His love for me. Of His goodness. Of His MERCY!
    And yes, it is something I will forever be grateful for. Yes, grateful. I was once with blinders, judging those around me who didn’t have it together. Those who were messy. Would I ever have wept with my friend over at Behind the Mask? NO, I would have stood boldly against such struggles. Now, I weep. I weep for and with the broken because I am weak and broken. It took a long time to realize all of this. Years actually. But I think I’m beginning to see that we all come with our messes, some are just better at hiding and covering up it all up
    We are all on a journey. Its not always pretty but yes, someday it will be over and we will be with Jesus!

  2. KJM

    This wrenches my heart both for similar experience, and knowing how many people have felt the same way. It hurts so much, and most Christians I interact with have no concept. Thank you for articulating this.

  3. Connie

    I can’t agree on one point: “Depression is not a disease,” as–to my understanding–an imbalance in brain chemistry, the root of clinical depression, is a physical reality; and depression is certainly DIS-ease. But beyond stating my opinion on that one point, I won’t pick the bone with you. Because this is fantastic and will be shared.

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