A Christian Having a Depression
Here’s the thing. Too many people don’t get it. Don’t get what it feels like to be me at times of cloudiness, rough days and all that. So let me explain. Maybe you know someone who has symptoms like i do. Or maybe you have. And maybe this helps you in either case.
Anyway, too often i’ve heard so much how people say the wrong things. I understand that sometimes you don’t know what to say, but let me tell you what not to say to people with depression and anxiety.
Don’t tell me to “just get better”. Or “you just have to think happy thoughts”. It makes me feel like i brought it on myself. Like i had a choice in this. Maybe some people can fix everything with happy thoughts or thinking that oh i’ll decide to get better. But often it’s waaaaay more complicated than that.
“I understand”. Do you really? I don’t want to sound mean, but please say this only when you actually have been through something like this yourself, or are going through. We cling to hope like crazy and if you say that, but don’t really know how we feel, imagine the disappointment in us later when we find out that you have no clue what we feel.
Those weird moments when you are in the middle of crying or spilling your heart and they “oh, hey i gotta go okay?!”. No, no no no, it’s not okay to leave me like this, but i care more about you than i do of myself, so i won’t tell you that, and wipe my tears and but on a small half-smile and say “I understand” or “yeah sure, go ahead”. And as soon as you are out of sight or listening range we burst into tears. Because you left us at our worst.
In no way our feelings are logical. Having depression is like having this terrible sadness, tiredness and just weird cloud hanging over your head. Anxiety is worrying about what people think, feeling guilty for not doing things you should. So for example, having both would be being too tired to go to school or work but feeling guilty for not doing that or disappointing people. Makes no sense, i know. It’s irrational, no way logical. But that’s what it is.
Some of the symptoms i have experienced with myself.
Let’s start with physical.
Restless sleep patterns (tossing and turning, waking up in the middle of the night or too early in the morning)
Hot and cold feelings
Digestive problems (from bloating and gas to diarrhoea and constipation)
Aching muscles (in my case mostly shoulders and neck area as i tense up when i am worried)
Losing appetite, or sometimes the opposite, waking up super super hungry
and probably more, but can’t remember
The mental side of things.
Rollercoaster of emotions
Feeling like a failure
Crying a lot
Indecisiveness / hate decisions
again, there’s probably more but can’t remember…
So there’s a lot to deal with. Try being in class when you are restless, distracted, thinking of all other things besides your class. Like your to-do list, or whatever else, but at the same time knowing that your to-do list usually never gets anything crossed off, that makes you feel disappointed and unaccomplished and just failure to yourself and others. And then yeah, it’s hard.
Or try reading the Bible when you can’t sit still not even for one minute. But if you can, you kind of zone out and your mind wonders. If that doesn’t happen, and you read, then you can go through pages but then realise you really don’t remember any of what you read and just quit again. So having time with God, is not a regular thing i have accomplished. Not yet.
Also, besides the fact that it does interfere with my daily life, it’s really hard to hear criticism from people. I do that to myself anyway. I don’t know if clothes i wear are okay, or if they cover enough of the things that i want to hide. I am having problems with self-esteem. Or did i bring everything i wanted to do wherever i am going. It’s hard hearing criticism from people when you aren’t able to do what you want to. Like responsibilities that you have. But sometimes i just say no, because i can’t bring myself to doing them. It’s no way logical, it is entirely irrational. But it happens. I feel like a failure then. Like not being able to please people. And people do often look like i am the worst person on earth if i say no to them, or cancel or something.
Or those moments when people try to “encourage” you with scripture. It does feel like getting smacked with a Bible. Me having mental health problems does not mean i don’t believe. Or that my faith is shaking. Or that i don’t have hope. Or whatever else you think. I understand that people want to encourage, but doing so you get me into guilt tripping myself that i haven’t believed scripture enough. Or that i am not enough Christian. I know you want to help, i know you wish to encourage. But yes, sometimes it makes things worse.
I already think i don’t have enough time with God (then what is enough right?), or that i don’t read my Bible much, or that me having issues with mental health means that i don’t believe in God enough or have faith… Well you see, i already think all of that, so sometimes sharing scripture is really hard to hear.
But what can you do then…
Well, for me things that help. Be there. I need love, support and just sometimes people who hug me long. Or hand me tissues and listen to me rant and cry. Just to be there. Sometimes i’d love some company just to sit by me and do nothing. But just to be there so i wouldn’t be alone. Sometimes all that i need is a crying session, sleep and a movie. And maybe chocolate. And i’ll be good. And you can always pray for me. Even when you are not literally with me. Prayer is always welcomed help. Maybe even ask God how you can help me.
In any case, there’s much you can do. Encouraging words, showing that you are there and that you aren’t leaving or running off, really does help. Remind me the good stuff. Tell me what you see in me that is good when all i see is negative. Tell me that i am love and cared for. Hug me long and sometimes just sit next to me. Sometimes all it takes to feel better is a random person asking “How are you”. Or “you okay?”. And i just start crying, because i am sad, but i am also happy that you cared enough to ask! I know it doesn’t make always sense. But maybe it does to someone. Maybe it helps you to be there for someone other than me. Maybe it helps people suffering like me, to ask for help and to tell their people what they can do for them.
It is not easy sharing all this. But it’s a choice. I choose to be vulnerable because, well i want help. I want to be better and not suffer forever. I want people to know, so they won’t freak out if i leave a crowded and/or noisy room. And saves me from explaining it every single time. And helps people to know and to come after me or check up on me if i have a tendency to isolate myself (which is stupid sometimes, but depressed people do that occasionally).
So i hope this helped, hope this enlightened some of you. Or at least give you a little insight as to how life is like when you are depressed and anxious. Thanks for being there for those who are. And to others, thank you for taking the time to read.