Then in the distance you feel it coming. The winds of destruction rustling, the faint sounds of a brewing storm hastening in your direction. You haven't properly prepared for this magnitude and there's no stopping it now. You thought you had all things secured down but you were careless. You know you were in a rush to live life like everyone else. You didn't ask for it but you didn't take extra precautions either. Now it's too late.
All your energy is consumed in this raging tempest. Air is difficult to obtain. Rains of salty tears come steadily. Thoughts are surging around you with no particular pattern or purpose. The skies have a haze about them. There is no beauty to behold. Destruction is visible for miles.
And it lasts for weeks. Weeks on end.
They used to call it a melancholy spirit. Now we call it depression. Either way, it's most definitely a gloomy time in one's life. There's no doubt it's a state of despondency and desperation. You beg for God to take you Home. You cry out for peace and relief. You fight to breathe but you long to die. I know that's harsh, confusing and scary but that's the truth. Depression takes over and doesn't intend to let go. Your brain longs to be released while you have little energy left to do anything about it.
I think people underestimate the effects of illnesses in the brain. I think we underestimate the power of the brain as a whole. When we fight an illness in our bodies, our brain is the first to fight. Our brain controls every part of this physical flesh that we have been given - whether subconsciously or not. The brain is in charge. Now let's imagine the brain is backfiring. Your brain starts fighting within itself. Your brain is using your energy for it's own personal agenda. It starts to mix up it's frequencies and deliver the wrong things to the wrong places or who knows what. The point is that your whole center of a physical being is off kilter. If the most powerful part of your body is off kilter, your whole physical/emotional/intellectual self is not going to properly function. It's serious business. It's not something to take lightly, joke about or brush aside. Our bodies are gifts from God and to think of mental illness as a flippant matter is sadly misunderstanding what God intended for us.
As I come out of yet another episode of a month long depression, I wondered how to tell you about it. You see, in a state of depression my malfunctioning brain says it's pointless to write, pointless to tell my story and most definitely pointless for me to even have a place in this life. On the other side now, I can't help but doubt and wonder if it isn't true while knowing that someone has to talk about it. I cringe at the thought of negative feedback and thoughtless remarks. I know it's easier to keep it hidden so that there won't be an awkwardness that follows me around. Then I think about the ones I love who have been here - the ones who have died, the ones who have survived, the ones who are fighting hard, the ones who feel as if they are sinking - and I type these words with them in mind. I tell you for my husband's sake who sees the beauty in the depths of the darkness, who never fails to hold my hand and never makes me feel inferior or tainted. I tell you for all the spouses and loved ones out there who need to know that we need you beside us to show us who we really are, help us find our way and never give up on us.
Each God-given physical flesh is precious and valuable because He formed it. It's time we realized this and showed those who are fighting mental illnesses how much worth they have to us. We are so quick to throw our hands up and say they have nothing to offer just because they will live a different life than everyone else. We are more willing to ignore than to encourage, more eager to pity than to befriend them. The fact of the matter is that God knew that those with mental illnesses and depression could handle it. He knows we can come out of these horrid moments with better understandings of people, deeper relationships with Him and more willing to offer grace to others. Depression and mental illness brought me to my knees in a way that might never have happened otherwise. I never longed for Heaven until I knew mental anguish and torments. I never gave Him my whole life until I had no control of it whatsoever.
On this brighter side of a depressive state, it's a slow process. You don't become depressed overnight, nor do you come out overnight. It's a gradual state of recovery. And I think each time, it's a little bit different as I learn more about myself and about bipolar depression itself. This episode was the roughest in a while so it's taking weeks to recoup. While talking to people was exhausting before it happened, it's even more exhausting now as I rebuild energy levels and reacquaint myself with chatter. It's highly important to be surrounded with positivity and lightheartedness. I know life is not always butterflies and rainbows. I know life is dirty and messy and ugly sometimes but throwing that on anyone coming out of depression is unwise when they have a brain that already taunts them enough with negative words. Fresh air, healthy foods, long walks, loved ones, uplifting books, quiet time, happy music, puppy dogs and sleep are all on my "get-better" agenda. I think God gave us nature and delicious food and solitude and sleep and the Psalms for that purpose. He knew we needed these things for a happy spirit and He wants us to take use of these blessings. I think sometimes we guilt people who are in recovery. We think they have it easy when in reality, it takes so much energy to recover. Let me repeat that, so - much - energy. When we take advantage of His gifts and thank Him in the process, we are glorifying Him. When we slow our life down and make it simpler in order to function properly, we are intentionally taking care of the bodies He has given us to steward. It's been hard for me to acknowledge that. It's easy to beat myself up - hello, I have depression - and to think that my life is wasted because of bipolar and depression. That's when we have to remember that He knew each one of us in the womb and gave us a purpose. Every single person with a mental illness has a purpose and a passion. It just takes a little more undertanding of ourselves to figure it all out sometimes.
It's a life long illness. It'll never be cured. It'll never just disappear. It will linger near no matter what I do to prevent or ward it off because I have am imperfect brain. And that's ok. It's ok because depression showed me a God I didn't truly know before. A God who loves me even when I am lethargic in bed with no desires, no motives, no reasons. He is a God who sent a Saviour to die for me - my imperfect being - so that I might have redemption. He is a God who Comforts me when I hurt beyond my wildest imaginations. He is a God who shows grace and mercy for the imperfect - all of us. This is a God I long to live in the prescence of one day.
Mental illness showed me that.