I'm a Christian Living With Depression
I’m a Christian and I’m not happy, and I’m done feeling bad for it. I’m done feeling guilty. I’m done hiding it so I can continue to fit into the nice, neat and pleasant boxes people try to put me into.
I’ve found the problem with the Church is so often, if we don’t feel comfortable with something or we disagree with it, we avoid it like the plague. I’m tired of that. I grew up not knowing there was a reason I felt so empty at times, thinking I really was just lazy, stupid, awkward and too forgetful. I never thought maybe there was a reason for how I acted.
I was never told what depression was. I never heard the word until I did my own research. Now, I’m not saying Christians are the only ones who are guilty of avoiding this subject. This is not the case at all, but as followers of Christ, it’s our job according to Isaiah 61:1-4, “to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners.”
Who are the brokenhearted? Who are the captives? Many of them are the same people who we shun, who we “pray for” and do nothing else for or who we ask, “Why does she have to be so sad all the time?”
I’m one of them. I’ve lived most of my life a prisoner of depression and anxiety, trapped in my brain that said, “You’re worthless. You aren’t smart enough. You aren’t a good enough Christian. Why are you always so lazy? Why are you so bad at socializing? Why are you so bad at finding motivation to pray and read the Bible? It must be your fault you feel so far away from God.”
No one figured it out for me. I searched and searched until I realized there was an explanation and there are other people who understand exactly how I feel. I’ve had to build my own community of support by opening up. I’ve had to be more honest than I’ve seen hardly anyone else in my life be before.
There have been times in my life when reading anything in the Bible that wasn’t Psalms or Isaiah didn’t feel like a comfort. Rather, it felt like a smack in the face reminder of all the “happiness” Christians nowadays preach, the happiness I didn’t know how to feel. Jesus didn’t preach shallow “happiness.” He preached hope.
He specifically preached it to those people who were sick, dying, blind, lonely and hopeless. Since those are the people who need hope every single day to get them through. Sometimes, it’s hard to look at messages of joy when all you feel is emptiness. You don’t want verses full of praises and “inspiration.” You just want someone to say you’re going to get through this. You want someone to say you might not be OK, but you’re still loved and accepted.
That’s the kind of message we should be teaching.
And not only that, but we should be directly addressing the problems we ignore. We need to stop treating “suicide,” “self harm,” “eating disorder” and “addiction” as dirty words, but instead, we need to offer help to those who feel like this is their only option. We need to accept Christians can have a relationship with God and still be depressed. We need to quit telling people with anxiety to, “Stop being afraid. Jesus is with you.” Instead, we need to support them, ask them how we can help and listen when they answer us.
We need to stop shunning people with disabilities, sensory issues, learning disorders and chronic illnesses simply because they look and act different than what we may be used to. We need to stop blaming people with mental illnesses and disabilities for struggling. Because we’re here to help people. That’s our job. And to do this we need to acknowledge we’re all a little broken. And that’s OK.
Image via Thinkstock.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.