I thought I’d do something a little different with today’s #depressionis post. Because I came across a great post from The Mighty. How do you explain depression to someone who has never experienced it? My #depressionis posts describe people’s experiences of depression, and Allison Toy recently shared some helpfully descriptive metaphors on The Mighty:
How do you explain depression? It’s a whole different continent people don’t understand and can’t fully relate to unless they’ve visited it themselves. In college, I had a close friend who was dating a guy who struggled with depression. She had never experienced depression, but was constantly working to grasp it the best she could. One of things I remember most from our conversations was this comment: “It’s so helpful when you say ‘depression is like…’ I want to understand. I really do.”
This is for those who want to understand. Just like a distant land, I can’t take you (and wouldn’t want to) into the experience of depression, but I can do my best to describe what it’s like… Read more
Have you ever tried to explain depression?
Unlike the girlfriend in the above story, not everyone wants to try to understand depression. They may not want to hear what you have to say. They may not even be able to hear you through what they think they know, what they think they see.
The church still suffers many misconceptions of mental illness.
I’m not depressed because I’m a bad Christian. I have a glitch in my brain, as well as deep-seated insecurities, and thought and behavior patterns based in early experience. I am redeemed. My past is redeemed, and the comfort I’ve received from God is useful to comfort others. But I haven’t received miraculous healing from the miscommunication-storm that happens in my brain. And trauma still affects the way my mind works. God HAS provided a medication, an anticonvulsant called lamotrigine, that helps keep my brain from pushing me into the darkest blackness.
It’s not a sin to take medication for depression and anxiety.
If you struggle with mental health and faith, I hope you find reassurance through my Fruit of Brokenness that you are not the only one. I also hope my experience can help you explain depression to someone in your life who doesn’t understand. If you’re looking for words, please check out the great post linked here and above, too. I’m not shy about describing my experiences of mental illness, so other people who don’t know what it’s like to be stuck in depression or anxiety can understand that it’s real and can’t be swept away with a dismissive Get over it, or admonition to read the Bible more, pray more, trust God more. To be clear, knowing and applying God’s Word, prayer, and understanding God’s character so we know we can trust Him even when circumstances make Him seem untrustworthy are important. Vital. But these things do not guarantee mental health.
The church needs to better understand mental illness, and step into its rightful place as a meaningful resource to help people struggling with issues such as depression and various anxiety disorders. Working in a combined effort with necessary psychiatric and other mental health professionals, the church has so much more to offer the broken-brained, brokenhearted, and misunderstood struggling to find Light in the darkness.
What metaphors or descriptions have you used to explain depression?
I’d love to include them in my #depressionis series.