By: Cara Croft
I breathe out the words, “I matter to God.” They slowly pass over my lips, circle around my head and land in my ears with a dull thud. Those words, unable to penetrate any further into my brain clogged with contrary messages, never make it down into my heart where I need to feel them most. Vain repetition of what I know to be true but life experience guards against the impact of these words, stubbornly refusing to let them take root in any significant way.
“I don’t matter, I am invisible, no one notices, I am disappearing” those words travel down the back of my throat, never crossing my lips, but going right into my core.
I can breathe in and out what scripture tells me, but I seem more apt to swallow the lies and let them infiltrate the core of my being. Those are the words that suck the energy from my body into the black hole of depression. I open the scripture praying that one magic arrow of truth might ignite that dark place and burn away those messages. I am skeptical that today it will happen.
This feels dark, because it is dark. This is depression.
It has come to call upon me yet again. The old, familiar visitor who decides to drop in for a visit. It would be nice if she would call to see if she is welcome before she shows up at the door, but she doesn’t. Then again, depression has never been a kind visitor, never thoughtful, never asking if this may be a good time for me to have her visit. How long will she stay this time? Just today? A week, a whole month? What if she never leaves? That is always the fear. That she is going to permanently move in, and yet history tells me that she will eventually leave.
Each time she shows up I try to find a new way to deal with her visit. We should go for a walk I tell her, even though she is content to stay at home and watch tv. We should call a friend and let them know you are visiting, yet she would rather just look at Instagram pictures and see friends on twitter from afar. She would rather suffocate than breathe, keep me hostage than set me free, pull me deeper under the blankets of her bed than let me wash off her presence in the shower. Today the thought hits me, “What if I put some boundaries on her like I do other toxic relationships? What if I decide where she can be and what she can do? What if I took charge today and told depression where she is allowed to show up?”
I know some would tell me to kick her out of the house. Some would say, don’t open the door when she knocks. What they don’t understand is that I never open the door and the more I try to kick her out the stronger she becomes. She sneaks in through the windows, she comes in the back door, she seeps through the walls like a ghost. She grows stronger at my rejection of her and reminds me that to ignore her and pretend like she doesn’t exist only intensifies her darkness.
She doesn’t ask to come in, she finds a way in through all the cracks and holes of my humanity.
True, sometimes I befriend her too much. Sometimes I am weary and worn down and I welcome her presence. Sometimes I let her take me hostage because I am praying and hoping someone will come rescue me from her. But the truth is no one can. No one can pull me out of her presence, no one can yank her out of my house. The best help is those who support me in putting depression in her place. Those who encourage me to learn how to push back against her apathy. Those who encourage me to care for myself in ways that bring back life and breath and light to her darkness.
So, I acknowledge her presence. I thank her for visiting and reminding me of my humanity and I invite her to come along as I read God’s word, visit friends, breathe in the sun and the air. I invite her to shower and wash herself with me, even if that is all we do today. I ask her to eat a meal with me and feel the food nourish the starving parts of my soul. I remind myself that God gives grace to me. He knows I cannot do as much as I normally do when she visits.
God reminds me that he knows well the visitor in my house and He does not despise me for it.
I begin to pick myself up and do the things that seem the most difficult to do. Eventually she will get tired of me and leave. She will come back again and visit, I am sure of it. But each time I learn a little better how to tolerate her presence until she leaves, fight against her lies with God’s truth, and lean more into God’s grace than my humanity.