“I came to realize I didn’t want to die. I just wanted my life, my pain, as I knew it, to end.”
These are a few of the words that helped save my life.
This year, in September 2023, marks five and a half years of a long battle with depression’s ebbs and flows; an illness that’s for so long been invisible yet has caught me in its depths and some of the darkest days. I’m still finding that words never come easily.
You see, it’s rarely about a lack of gratitude. It’s not always situational. Even the most driven, joyful, and outwardly successful individuals, who, seemingly have “nothing to be sad about”, can be plagued with thoughts and grief that fail to cease.
Your brain can become sick, just like anything else.
Your brain starts to create beliefs that warp your understanding of reality, those you love, and what you understand to be true. Your brain says that you’re sad, and sometimes, you’re not entirely sure why. And sometimes, when the thoughts don’t stop, you feel held hostage to a body that you can no longer control, unsure of the possibility of an escape. You realize what a gift it was to feel normal, and long for the days where you feel joy again. You ask if it will always be like this. You start feeling that your grief is a burden to those around you.
When the lie of suicidal ideation creeps in, you forget that you are so very loved, just as you are, and that this world is so much better with you in it.
This illness begs for consistent, gentle reminders of truth to what the mind can so often distort. And while depression’s presence is one with which I’m still learning how to coexist, I’m grateful for the way it’s shown me to hold gratitude for the days filled with joy and for where I feel like myself again, if only for a moment. My walk with depression has forced me to seek out what matters most, to ask for help, and to deepen my faith. It hasn’t been easy. It’s been long nights where my sweet husband has just held me in his arms, and long conversations with my doctor, therapist, and loved ones. I’ll never be able to truly express how grateful and what a gift they’ve been in this journey.
I’ve still had days where I feel like nobody cares and that my life is too deep of a burden to those around me. But what a quiet comfort these past years have been, being reminded that I have a God who holds my heart in His hands (Jude 1:1, Psalm 61:2, 1 Peter 5:7, James 4:6).
I share this because this illness thrives in silence, isolation, and the belief that it’s better to try to deal with life’s sorrows on your own.
Do not feel ashamed to tell someone when you don’t feel like yourself and that you need help in the midst of grief.
I know what it’s like to feel trapped inside of a body and mind, wondering if you’ll ever heal or if the days will feel better.
I know it’s exhausting.
I know it is frustrating, feeling like you’re losing a battle with your own mind.
But I promise you it does get better.
Please don’t give up.
You are not a burden.
You are not a burden.
You are not a burden.
Do not apologize for being sad or for the hard days.
Keep putting one foot in front of the other.
It takes time.
Give yourself grace.
Please don’t feel like you have to wrestle with your thoughts alone.
Please tell someone if you are struggling.
This world is so much better with you in it.
To help suicide prevention please check in on your loved ones, remind them they are NOT a burden, share the things you love about them / why you’re grateful to have them, and encourage others to do the same – mental health can be invisible so this matters for everyone. Be the one to start conversations, offer support, speak up, and break the stigma surrounding mental health. If you or someone you know needs help, connect to hope. Call or text #988, or chat at 988lifeline.org, to speak to a trained crisis counselor 24/7/365.
Resources that have helped me + loved ones:
The Real Depression Project (Informational graphics and practical advice to help loved ones understand how to care for you and for those needing help expressing how they feel)
Book: The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse (A children’s book with simple truths about self-love and carrying on. A tear-jerker and a balm to the heart)
Book: Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for Those Who Suffer from Depression (for those who want to better understand the illness and for those also wrestling with Depression. A kind and comforting balm to the heart when you feel misunderstood).
Hymn: “The Sands of Time are Sinking” – Sovereign Grace Music / Capitol Hill Baptist Church
Song: “Anyone” – Demi Lovato (an honest song and cry for help, explaining what Depression feels like)