Last week I woke up, rolled out of bed and posted the picture and caption above onto Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. To be honest, I didn’t think too much about it. (Which may be a glimpse into some of my poorer social media choices?) The sheer number of responses I received floored me.
“Thank you for sharing this, nobody in my family knows I take medication for depression.”
“I have been feeling suicidal lately, this encouraged me to tell my mom and get help.”
“My pastor told me if I just had a little more faith I wouldn’t struggle so much – but you have faith, don’t you?”
“Thank you for reminding me that I can fight to heal the broken, even if I feel broken sometimes.”
All day long comments, messages and texts came in. Stories of broken hearts and unsure minds.
“It’s okay,” I wrote over and over and over again. “You are whole.”
And I will keep saying it, over and over and over again – to you, to me, to strangers on the internet, who now feel an awful lot like friends. This stigma that surrounds mental illness is lie, a falsehood that’s carried its way through generations, damning the wounded.
But it’s okay.
Here’s the thing though, I need you to promise me something; that you won’t stay in the muck alone. If you haven’t already, I need you to get help. Tell someone you trust. Find a professional. It’s okay to be afraid, I sure as hell was. The first three therapy appointments I made I cancelled. It took a mentor of mine bribing and strong-arming me onto that leather sofa.
Following that appointment I went on medication and for nearly six years nobody knew. I was ashamed, hell-bent on the idea that if only I were a little stronger, a better Christian and a better friend I could kick this on my own, silence the voices that sounded eerily similar to my own as they taunted me. But it wasn’t true for me then and it’s still not true for me now.
Some days I simply need help.
And that’s okay.
We’ll get through this.
We are whole.
4 thoughts on “We are whole.”
Though I can’t say I’ve experienced depression in my own life, two years ago I had the opportunity to work with a guy who does. I’m on a committee that works with the homeless in our community and when I met “Al” he was out of work for 2 yrs, just kicked out by his wife, grossly overweight, super high blood pressure, estranged from his kids, minimal family support, the clothes on his back, no income, but he did have a car and a sleeping bag and $200. We got him into a shelter, but the depression he experienced was overwhelming. It tainted everything he saw. Things that would bring a smile to other people’s faces only reminded him of the losses he was experiencing in his own life. It was like very time he tried to move, he was in quicksand or mud that required all the effort he could muster. He shared with me how he wished he had a broken leg, or some physical ailment that was visible because then others would attribute his inability to do things to that and not just accuse him of being a “loser.” Unfortunately, “Al” had been through therapy before and tried antidepressant meds, but found he couldn’t tolerate them.
All this being said, working with Al really opened my eyes to the struggles people with depression face. No one would dare say to a diabetic “just have more faith” when they’re experiencing low blood sugar because everyone knows it’s a chemical imbalance that requires the right medications. Unfortunately when the chemical imbalances are in the brain effecting behavior, this seems to be quickly forgotten.
The good news is Al has been consistently working for the past 2 yrs, managed to live on his own and make some amends with his kids. He still struggles, but appears to be negotiating life. I say appears because no matter how many times I’ve tried to contact him and he doesn’t live very far from me, he won’t return any of my phone calls. Occasionally I’ll run into him while out and about and when I ask if he’s upset over anything, he’ll say no, but he can’t quite get the energy up to talking.
Three yrs ago I did have the privilege of praying with Al for the first time in his entire 50 yr life when we were still getting together every week. It was a time I’ll never forget.
Wow. Thank you for sharing that story/insight, Phil. You are spot-on in the diabetes comparison.
I’m not sold on wholeness. I tend to believe nothing will fill that spot or whole or yearning. Anytime something does we believe greener grass and better environments will be better than what we just got or aquired. I’m not saying this for any other reason than to just pose a question. What if wholeness isn’t possible and could this be why we are searching endlessly all the time? What if we could become friends with the emptiness? Who knows?
I think it’s almost one in the same actually. I will never be perfect, I will always have things that I yearn for and I will always hurt, but I think part of the wholeness. As whole people we feel all the things, much like Jesus did in fact. I don’t think you’re off on what you’re saying – I think being friends with the emptiness actually fills us. Maybe? 🙂
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