Waiting, Weakness, and Depression

Disclaimer: This is by far the most personal post I’ve ever written. Even now, I feel my chest tighten a bit and thoughts like what if people think you’re crazy, stupid, and/or ridiculous? race through my mind. However, if my story helps one person not feel alone, then it is worth it.

On New Years Eve, as I sat with a few friends waiting to ring in the new year, we reflected on some of the highlights of 2013. In a mildly cynical fashion, my first thought was “I’m thankful 2013 is now over.” 2013 was not an easy year and in many ways I am glad it is over. However, I’m also thankful for new beginnings and seasons-both weather seasons and seasons of life.

Yes, 2013 was undoubtedly one of the most difficult years of my life. I lived in 3 different homes, which led to a general unsettled feeling after each move. I started a new soccer program at a charter high school and was foolish enough to not recruit help. I continued to adjust to new roommates, new friends, and old friends. Most of all though, I fought depression.

I was depressed for a lot longer than I realized. Those closest to me knew something was wrong long before I did. I convinced myself I was OK and could work through “it” on my own. After several months, I finally started seeing a counselor and went on anti-depressants – one of the best decisions I ever made. Still, I fought the anxiety, depression, and exhaustion that settled over my entire life. For months, each day was a battle to make it through the day. Routine interactions were now excruciating. Simple tasks were insurmountable in my mind. At times, breathing was difficult.

During this season, time passed at a snail’s pace. Each morning I counted down the hours until I could get in bed again. Now, 1 year later, I’m amazed at how much has passed. Reflecting on where I am now, in January 2014 verses January 2013, is mind-boggling.

In many ways I feel like a different person, but I think a better description is that I feel more whole, more solid. Throughout my time of depression, I felt very fractured, fragile, and broken. I was constantly at odds with myself, others, and God. Now, I can feel the scars, but they’re no longer open wounds. When I sing a song declaring “The Enemy is under Your feet, We are free!” It is no longer only a desperate plea, a grasp onto hope, but an emphatic declaration!

I am free from my own mind, free from my own sin, free from brokenness around me. This is not to say I do not sin or I do not feel brokenness, but the weight that oppressed me is gone. The guilt, shame, fear that characterized my life is now but a memory. I am a new creation. The scar that once caused great pain is now a reason to celebrate and a reminder of God’s faithfulness.

Now that I am on the other side, I am thankful for the season of depression. I am thankful God was working in me even when I could not feel it and even when I was resentful at times. I am thankful for the tiniest moments of hope that preceded some of the darkest days – one of the greatest acts of mercy I’ve ever felt. I am thankful I have family and friends who walked alongside me, endured very difficult days with me, and spoke encouraging truth to me when I could not do so myself.

All of this is to say thank you to everyone who encouraged me this past year. For anyone who is struggling with depression: You are not alone. Though your days feel long, dark, and lonely, there is a God who is with you even when you can’t feel it. He is faithful, good, and true. His mercies are new every morning and every hour. There were times when the best I could do was wait in my weakness and cling to the hope that God’s power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10) That is OK.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness
of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

Psalm 27: 13-14