I’m curled up with a fuzzy blanket on a cosy chair, my hot cup of earl grey steaming up my glasses, on this rainy August morning. I’m pondering so many things as the damp morning stretches out before me. My heart feels slightly overwhelmed with many things and I know I need these mornings to myself to process.
As you may know, I have had Depression on and off for about 2 1/2 years now. I can pinpoint the exact time frame it started, and although it was nothing significant in the grand scheme of things, what caused it was significant to me. I’ve spent these years criticising myself for not being stronger, for letting myself be affected so dramatically by seemingly insignificant issues. I’m thankful to have the ability to seek help for it, too, because I’ve finally decided enough is enough.
I know, I have not experienced the worst kinds of pain, such as losing someone dear to me; but I have deeply felt the pain of loss, in the form of community and family, loss of dreams and hopes, dashed to pieces time and time again. If one were to lay the broad spectrum of losses on a scale, perhaps mine is much lower than most. But I now realise this does not mean my own pain is any less significant to me.
I may not have suffered something as horrible as abuse in my life (thank you Lord) but I have felt the crushing verbal blows of a a$$hole boss that took his anger at life out on me. I have known the feeling of utter defeat in being told I am worthless and useless many times. To me, this was significant.
I’ve been devastated by loss and heartache, in many, many ways. And I’ve fought a hard battle for my faith in a very dry and weary land for many years. All of which has cumulated into this thing called Depression. You may look at me and question why I have Depression if nothing horrible has ever happened to me. Believe me when I say I have been judging myself for it, so I’m not surprised that you might as well.
Lately I’ve been fighting off feelings of anxiety and panic as well, and it scares me because this is not who I am. And yet, here I sit, mentally fighting for control over my own thoughts. With every sip of tea I spiral deeper. And yet, I find comfort in my thoughts, because I alone can change the course of them. I alone can decide whether I will judge myself for them or not.
It’s a chemical imbalance, my friends. It’s not because I’m too emotional, too weak or too sensitive. I didn’t ask for this and I certainly don’t want it to be my battle. But hating myself for it has only made it worse. I try to be kinder to myself now. Instead of criticising myself as I imagine everyone else is doing, I am trying to see myself as the Father sees me: with mercy. And Love. Oh, He is so nurturing, so kind, so loving.
He does not judge me. He only loves me.
It’s such a hard concept to grasp and believe. If I am harsh on myself, I imagine everyone else should be as well. If I judge myself for something that unintentionally happened to me, then surely everyone else does as well…
So this is why I sit here. I sip my tea. I breathe deeply. And in this quiet spiral I hear a still, small voice speak beautiful words to me. I hold tightly to those whispered love-notes as my anchor in a raging storm.
I try to comprehend such mercy that could be bestowed upon me. I try to grasp what it’s like to suffer with something that I, logically, shouldn’t have and yet am still loved in spite of. All because of Love. Such gracious Love. It’s very hard for me to accept.
I ask myself, if I am so harsh and critical of myself with my own Depression, how badly must I criticise others who are fighting their own mental battle? Who am I to judge what my friends struggles are? I sit here sipping what is almost ice-cold tea by now, and realise that my only desire is to love unconditionally, to let go of that critical voice in my head. Both towards myself and towards my friends.
All I ask of you in this moment, is to do the same. Mental illnesses are hard to understand. Hard to believe them to be real. But kindness heals many wounds to those of us fighting such unseen battles. Be patient with us. Don’t leave us alone. Don’t judge us. And for everyone’s sake, show us a bit of love. We’ll try to do the same for you.