Older & Much Wiser You
Depression during COVID-19: No Darkness is too Dark for God’s Light to Shine Through
Beautiful Younger Soul,
You never thought you would end up here. To be honest, you didn't see it coming. Right before you realized your own condition, you knew things weren't perfect, but you thought you were just readjusting after some hard years. The truth is that you were fine, or at least that is what you kept telling yourself. You didn’t realize that you had dug a hole and put up walls around yourself to ignore the problem at hand. You kept telling yourself and everyone around you that you were “fine”, and if you believed that you were “fine”, then eventually you would be “fine”. The more you told yourself you were “fine”, the more you allowed yourself to fall deeper and deeper into the darkness of your mind. The problem is that you weren’t even aware that you were not well. You thought you were the same person you’d always been. But the people who truly knew you noticed that you weren’t “fine”. In fact, they realized that you were overcompensating for your condition by being extra happy. The truth was that you had fallen into depression.
In the last few years, you went through a series of circumstances that were hard. During those years, you barely cried because you kept telling yourself that you needed to be strong and crying wouldn’t solve anything. You thought that by crying, you were being weak and you hate to feel weak and impotent. Over those years, you were strong, but you also allowed your heart to harden. Things that would move people to cry wouldn’t have any effect on you whatsoever. You thought you were being strong, but it was just another lie from the enemy trying to keep you from finding healing. Early this year, you began to cry more and more over things that seemed irrelevant. Everything made you cry and you got frustrated at yourself because you were being weak.
One Sunday during worship, you poured out your heart to the Lord and you told Him that you couldn’t do it anymore. You didn’t have the strength to keep going. You wanted to give up. He showed you that you weren’t “fine” and that you needed help. He told you that you couldn’t do it on your own anymore and you needed to ask for help. Here is the thing: you’re not a person who asks for help. You believe that you are capable of doing things on your own. You hate to burden people with your troubles. However, you knew He was right and for the first time, you admitted you had a problem and that you needed help.
You spoke to your family and one of your mentors, telling them you were struggling and possibly depressed. At that point, you were still not sure to even call it depression, but that’s the only thing you could compare it to. In your mind, depression was not being able to get out of bed; not having a social life; not being able to function or work in any capacity; so you didn’t want to label your own condition as depression. You were having trouble eating regular meals. You would come home after work and find yourself so tired that you’d rather sleep than eat something. If you ate at all, you would eat junk food or whatever you could fish out of your cupboards or your fridge. You were also sleeping on the floor or your couch as it brought comfort, and many times you would fall asleep there after work. But overall, you had a social life. You went out with friends, you went to church, you went to work and you did everything that you needed to do. But even with all of that, you were still broken on the inside.
You didn’t want to admit that you weren’t well because that was weakness, but as the year 2020 began you knew you needed help. You decided to go see your doctor and ask for bloodwork. You thought that maybe there was something in your bloodwork to prove that it wasn’t depression, but something else. After explaining your symptoms to the doctor, she did a psychological test and it turned out that you did have moderate to severe depression. Pfff, that was a hit to your gut. How? How could you allow things to get out of control? Wasn’t the purpose of not crying the way to keep your mind fresh and intact from the pain to keep going? Weren’t you strong enough to handle everything? Didn’t you manage to keep yourself together for the last few years, only for you to fall apart now? How could you have let things get this far? You asked yourself those and many other questions, trying to find a rational explanation.
After receiving the diagnosis, you didn’t want to believe it. You did what you know how to do best, ignore the problem and keep going. A few weeks later, it caught up with you again. You were at church and while singing “For the Cross” by Bethel with the lyrics “Hallelujah, it is finished, Hallelujah, it is done”, you prayed that your condition would be over. You asked God to take it away right then and there, you were expecting a miracle right then and there. But nothing happened. You still felt empty, hollow and broken. You finally accepted that you weren’t well and that you needed prayer and help. When you mustered the courage to tell someone about your condition, she told you that your process might not be an instantaneous change. It’s like God told her exactly what you were thinking. She told you to fight the battle by having a “Gratitude Journal”. This would help you change your daily perspective by focusing on the good things God gave you instead of the darkness in your mind. You thought your first few entries were a little lame, as one day you couldn’t find anything good in your life so you thanked God for the birds. Yep, you were thankful for the birds. However, as time passed, you found that your daily gratitude began to change. You began to notice the goodness of God in your everyday life and you were finding healing. However, the enemy wouldn’t let you go out without a fight.
You thought up a plan for your healing by surrounding yourself with the people around you, but then COVID-19 hit and you found yourself alone all the time. Just when you had admitted you needed help and you needed people, you were on your own in the company of your mind and the darkness that you were keeping inside. How were you supposed to get out of the depression you found yourself in? How were you supposed to get better? How were you supposed to heal? You needed help. You needed people. Things got messier in your head. You started snapping at the people you loved the most. You became angry. You became frustrated. You became a different person. You were hitting rock bottom and you were losing it all. You kept telling yourself that you were all alone and that no one understood what you were going through. It was one thing to go through depression, but another thing to go through it during pandemic time. You were alone more than ever and no one understood you. Finally, someone confronted you and told you that you needed to muster all that anger and frustration and put it towards fighting your depression. She told you that instead of seeing yourself as the “victim” in the story, you should see yourself fighting for your mental freedom. You thought, “How am I acting like a victim? I’ve gone through a few hard years and I deserve the right to be frustrated”, but the truth was that you were acting like a victim. You were having pity parties for yourself all the time. You didn’t even realize that you were doing it. You kept thinking over her words and realized that she was right. You started fighting your own way with God’s help. You took small steps at a time by keeping the “Gratitude Journal”; listening to worship music to keep your mind focused on God; eating properly; doing physical exercise to increase your endorphins; sleeping at a regular time and talking to your family. You did things that you could control to help with the physical aspect. Then, you had help with the spiritual side. You talked to your family and told them how you were truly feeling, to keep you accountable for your feelings. Someone prayed with you every night and you spent time in the Word. Someone else kept tabs on you and every time you weren’t going well, she seemed to call you, incredible how God works.
You discovered something that still amazes you. God wanted you all alone with Him. You asked for help and you told Him you needed help. You were expecting Him to send people to help you. Actually, you even considered seeing a psychologist, but God wanted to heal you in His own personal way. He had to take away the “human” distractions in your life. He wanted to spend time alone with you. He had to break through the “hardened” heart and make you feel again. He had to get you to surrender and realize that what you truly needed was Him. He wanted you to listen to Him again like you did some time ago. He wanted to spend time alone with you. What you thought was loneliness was God’s way to get you away from the distractions you set to keep you from the pain. It was His way to be alone with you so you could have a conversation with Him rather than with someone else. He wanted you to consider Him your best friend again. You had abandoned Him for the distractions in your life. It didn’t make sense at the beginning to be left all alone, but now as you see it, you know that it was exactly what you needed to heal. The road to your healing hasn’t been easy and it definitely hasn’t been what you expected it to be, but God made a way for you to heal.
See, dear Young Soul, there was nothing wrong with being depressed and there is no right or wrong way to fight depression. You might need to see a doctor, you might need medication, you might need prayer, or you might need to spend time alone with God. I can’t tell you how to heal, I can only tell you something that you have heard a million times: the first step to healing is accepting you have a problem and your second step is asking for help. Don’t think you can do it on your own. The enemy and the world tell us that if we think it, we can make it come to pass; it’s all in the power of the mind. But that’s not true, that’s what the enemy wants us to believe so we don’t ask for help and we fall more and more in the depths of our darkness and brokenness. Don’t try to do it alone, you need the spiritual help to help you fight. However God chooses to heal you, the one thing He wants is your freedom and healing; He wants you to rely on Him more than anyone else. He is Jehovah Rapha, your Healer. He wants to heal those areas of your life that are kept hidden from everyone including yourself. It’s not a weakness to ask for help and there’s no shame in it. Fight the good fight and when darkness wants to come, fill your mind with what’s true, noble, reputable, authentic and gracious. Keep your mind on things above.
My dear Younger Soul, you’re not alone and your darkness is not too dark for God’s light to shine through. Let your heart sing “Hallelujah it is finished. Hallelujah it is done”.
Older & Much Wiser You
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 NLT