The darkness. It’s drowning. It’s heavy. This weight is paralyzing. Isolating. No one gets it. No one can possibly understand the pain and confusion and separation I am under. The easiest escape is often to let it consume me. Because the pain is familiar, at least. I know what to expect. Sometimes it’s warm. A warm, dull pain. Always dark.
But the reality is that a good portion of my thoughts are shared. Maybe that’s comforting; maybe that’s discouraging. Let’s look at some snippets taken from my personal journal, and you can tell me if you get it or not:
- “I don’t know what to feel. So, I won’t feel.”
- “I feel so small. And I feel worthless. I’m just here. Forgotten.”
- “I called the suicide hotline yesterday.”
- “I keep having to tell myself it’s okay if all I can do is show up. I will never be 100% and God knows that. He doesn’t expect me to be.”
It’s tough to read. It’s tough to hear. But let me tell you, it’s tough to think. I know you get it, even if just a little bit. Our minds are battlegrounds, torn between loud, dark thoughts planted by the evil one, and the quiet, peaceful truth of the Holy Spirit.
I’ve struggled with depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation since I was young. These struggles have shifted and adapted over the years, but they are still there with me, and they will likely never fully leave while I am on this earth. Whether it’s from chemical imbalances, or past traumatic events, or genetic predisposition, or something else altogether, the things that plague our mental lives are important challenges meant to be faced head-on with help.
Oh boy. Help. I hate that word. I hate what it stands for. I hate what it means. I need help. That means I don’t have it all together and I am not perfect and I am not a vision of happiness and hope and I am not completely capable. Help. A sinner’s worst nightmare. Thus, my worst nightmare.
There came a point, not too long ago even, that I realized I needed to choose between keeping my pain to myself, trying to fight on my own, and thus submitting to death, literally, or sharing my pain with another and opening the door to surviving. Cracking the door to surviving, rather.
How is it my soul can be absolutely enamored by the love of God, by his beautiful people, by the victorious little things of the day, and yet be absolutely anguished and crushed by internal pain, so much so that my spirit is ready to give it all up? How can my mind be divided so? Am I supposed to put on the face when I am around my coworkers; the women we serve?
I can’t tell you the answers because I don’t know the answers myself. I wish I did. I wish my mind didn’t hate itself, and I wish I wasn’t overcome by panic, and I wish I wasn’t paralyzed by depression, and I wish I wasn’t nauseous with anxiety. My darkness is so dark. I don’t want it to bleed out and cover anyone else in darkness, so I hold it close to my heart so I can save you from the pain. But then I’m out of strength to save me from the pain.
The thing is, I was never designed to be a savior. That’s why I suck so badly at it.
I live in a fallen earth, and even though I am saved by knowing Jesus, the darkness still comes. There’s a myth that if a believer is struggling with mental health, then they are a failing believer. They must be sinning relentlessly, hating God secretly, failing everywhere. They must be. Because why would someone who knows the hope of Jesus feel any kind of sadness?
I’d like to say I know Jesus’ hope and God’s promises like the back of my hand. But the darkness still comes. Maybe none of this resonates with you, and maybe all of it does a little too well. You are in good company. I understand. But thankfully there is someone who understands more than I do. Jesus is with you in your pain and grief and numbness and anxiety.
I desperately want to move towards Jesus’ peace and hope. To actually live in it and not just know of it. And I think that means dropping the self-savior act. I know I have been healed and I know I have been comforted. I know I have been saved, and praise God for saving me from my darkness day after day.