Some people are surprised to learn this, but I’ve lived with depression for as long as I can remember.
I know what it’s like to not want to get out of bed in the morning. There are days when my world seems like it’s in grey scale—the vibrancy that once was there fades out of view and, after a while, I begin to wonder if it’s ever going to come back. But, I have learned that God is still good, even when I feel myself stuck in the darkest and deepest of holes.
I reach this point—usually when I’m irritable, eating poorly, and spending too much time inside— when I realize something’s wrong. And it hits me: I need to get out of the house, I need community.
But there’s always a moment of hesitation before I venture out into civilization.
I’m an introvert.
Just one more episode.
But eventually I get out of bed, I get dressed, and I step outside. Some days, that’s a victory in and of itself. But then I make my way out into the world. Often, I go to one of my favorite coffee shops, where I feel comfortable and safe, and just spend time doing something I love: writing. When it’s not summer, I’ll go for a walk, which tends to lift my spirits. But the best thing I can do when I’m surrounded by the dark clouds of depression is reach out to someone in my community who gets it.
I’m going to talk to someone who understands where I’m at.
I’m going to text the friend who will reply “let’s go get coffee” or “let’s go for a walk” or “I’m on my way”.
I’m going to call that person who gives me life, who tells me who I truly am, and reminds me of who God is.
Do you have a relationship like that?
For years I struggled with relationships because I didn’t see their importance or my need for them. But now I value community. Here are just a few ways that healthy relationships have changed my life.
I love accountability. Don’t get me wrong, I hate it initially when people call me out but, in the long run, I really do love it. One of the most loving things a person can do for me is ask me how I’m doing with the things I know I need to do for my health.
How’s your spiritual life?
How are you eating?
Are you exercising?
Are you spending time with people?
Are you resting?
I hate these questions but I’m so thankful for them. And when my friends ask me these targeted questions, I am reminded that they care about me and my well-being.
This is probably my least favorite because I just don’t like compliments. They make me uncomfortable and I always want to shrink away and hide. But I still need encouragement, as awkward as I feel when I’m getting it.
Who tells you who you are? Who are the people in your life who will tell you that you’re a beloved daughter of God in whom he is well pleased? Who reminds you that you’re more than a conqueror in him who loves you?
Those are the people to keep around. Those are the ones you call when things get rough. I’m so thankful for the people in my life who are willing to tell me who I am when I don’t believe it myself.
When depression strikes again, I always get myopic in my thinking. Instead of seeing the bigger picture, I focus on the narrow: my lack, my comfort, my needs. But I have friends who will help me look up when I start navel-gazing.
These life-giving friends have done more for my soul than I can express. And I’m so thankful for them. These are the dreamers, the visionaries, the passionate people who are whole-heartedly following the Lord who make me feel filled up in their presence. They are the ones who bear the image of Jesus and, simply because of how they live, encourage me to do the same.
Do you have any friends who hold you accountable? Is there someone who regularly gives encouragement? Who do you come to when you need to refocus? I encourage you to reach out to them today and thank them for the joy they’ve been in your life.
If you don’t have anyone that fits the bill, I encourage you to ask God for those healthy relationships. But it doesn’t stop there: you can go first and be that friend for someone else and see what happens—you might be surprised.
And, my friend, if you’re struggling today, let me just tell you: I’m proud of you. Just reading this was a big deal. Well done! But I want to ask you to take it a courageous step further: reach out to one safe, life-giving, Jesus-loving person today and let them love you even if it makes you uncomfortable. You can do it!
Featured Photo by: Hope Kirby