Depression + Faith: Part 2

Four days. That’s how long I spent in bed after getting home from that final semester in Italy. I remember eavesdropping on Mom and Brian to see if they were talking about me. Worried about me. They never were. Depression tried to convince me that meant they didn’t care.

They’ve always cared. That’s never changed. But it also hasn’t made anything better, which is what my brain likes to tell me. I don’t listen, but it still says it.

You don’t forget the first time you’d rather not exist. I don’t mean deep embarrassment. I don’t say die–to me that indicates a reaction to pain. I don’t say commit suicide–though I’m certain you’d remember that first thought as well–as to me there is a vast difference to personally, violently ending your life versus realizing you’d totally be okay if you stopped–if you never?–existing.

I’m on the brink of that most days, and have been since July 2013. I’ve begun to shut off most of my emotional reactions since then, admittedly to my detriment. I don’t feel much most days, weeks, months beyond frustration. That one always seems to boil through. Back in 2013, I used alcohol to numb, but once you scare yourself one time, that’s all it takes. I’ve shut down on my own, numbed on my own, without help since then.

I miss myself, you know? I miss being happy. I miss feeling joy. I miss crying in movies that make zero sense to cry in. I miss crying at concerts when the right song hits. I miss dancing. I miss flirting.

Last summer, Mom and I began attending a new church. We’re still “Messianics,” but you need more than the home. The Bible is pretty clear about that.

There’s not really a place for me at this church. I’m too old for the young adult singles group, and too single for the new married couples group. But I’m there because I truly believe I’m supposed to be. I guess that’s enough for now. It’d be nice to have a place. It’s been awhile.

There are circumstances in my life beyond my control. Depression likes to use these things to tell me what I am: Lazy. Useless. A failure. Behind. Worthless. Unlovable. A disappointment. Ugly. It really likes to tell me these things by highlighting where they appear in what people who genuinely care for me say to me. I fight these thoughts with decent success until I lay down at night. If I didn’t self-medicate with a sleep aid, it would keep me awake until I believed them about myself…usually three hours later.

A secret? I can’t believe them and believe in my God. Another secret? I still try to believe in both. I don’t have the evidence to the contrary of the depression and God’s promises never seem to be given to me.

I’m speaking a little glib, especially knowing the promises found in the Bible. I know them well. But they truly don’t ever seem to be for me, not really. They don’t seem alive or like something I’ll ever see.

Which is the point of faith, I guess.

I have to be honest. I don’t know why anyone would read my words and find Jesus compelling. I don’t look at my life and find Jesus compelling. But that’s also the case with the majority of the faith stories in the Bible. It’s not a very compelling, happy narrative. It’s beautiful, certainly, but not compelling.

But I read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and that’s exactly who I want my God to be. So I guess my faith is hoping for one day to experience that Jesus.

Depression doesn’t like Jesus; He’s too unsafe. I don’t like unsafe, but I sure as hell hate depression. I’m only chasing safety, but ironically, with depression and faith, it’s the one thing I’m guaranteed to never have.

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