We are back in the middle of a battle around here. One that is never easy. People used to talk about cancer and refer to it as the "C" word, but the problem with depression is that people do not talk about it even by another name or acronym. Depression. It is the secret. It might be your secret. It might be my secret. Or a family secret. But it's a secret. And if you cannot talk about depression then you certainly cannot talk about mental illness. You say the word mental illness and people automatically either think the worst or they become extremely uncomfortable. There seems to be no middle ground. Well-intentioned people either want to give you a five-step cure, ask you about sin in your life (if you live in the Bible belt), or tuck their tail between their legs and run away. Depression is not like other illnesses. You can scrape your knee and put a bandage on it, you can cut yourself and get stitches. You treat strep throat by taking antibiotics and even though you cannot cure the common cold, you can alleviate the symptoms. But no one is comfortable talking about the debilitating aspects of depression and how it affects both individuals and families. I have to confess that I am probably not either, if truth be told. But I am not going to run away. I am not going to pretend that everything is fine when it is not. I wrote the following post last year when a family member began yet around round with this dread disease. I am going to post it again; but just so you know...what I really want to do is scream and cry. Not for me, but for my loved one and for every one who finds themselves afflicted with this disease. I hate it. Can I say that again: I HATE this disease. I hate DEPRESSION. I HATE DEPRESSION.
Here's my post from last year. I don't think I can write anything new today. My heart is aching too much.
It is a dragon that can slay the bravest of hearts. It does not discriminate. It can strike when least expected and is able to construct elaborate ruses, feints, and ambushes that are designed to take the traveler completely by surprise. Yet on the other hand, it can be a frustratingly predictable adversary who keeps its annual appointments with alarming and despicable regularity. It is not a respecter of maturity, of age, of wisdom, of status, or position. It decries human understanding and loves to masquerade under many disguises. It has held captive the likes of Mother Theresa, C.S. Lewis, Ansel Adams, Winston Churchill, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Elijah, David, and more. It has also stalked my family. I am well acquainted with its name, its face, and its modus operandi. Sometimes it brings paralysis, other times indifference, and yet at other times it will spread a web of lies that look so real that they become an alternate reality the traveler is somehow tempted to believe.
It is an illness, a sickness, and a disease that can ravage the mind, the body, and the soul. David the Psalmist understood all too well. More than once I have understood the depth of his words: "“I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. …I groan because of the turmoil of my heart” (Psalm 38:6,8 - NKJV). I am talking about that terrible foe, that enemy, that dragon known as depression.
I think my most difficult struggles with depression have not come as a result of my own struggles in this area (yes, I, too, know this foe), but have come instead when I have had to watch this despicable scourge lay waste to someone that I love. It is not that I have not seen victory...because I have, but I have also recently seen this enemy return once more to camp at the door of my house. I know the verses upon which to stand. Thank goodness I hid so many of them in my heart when I was but a child. I know about the wonderful armor and the weapons of our warfare against this dragon and his brother, The Dragon of Old. I know and believe that the Word of God is a powerful offensive weapon and is sharper than any two-edged sword. I know the Truth that will set not only me, but others free. I believe it. I really do. But I see the dragon breathing fire and stalking his prey. It makes me tremble.It makes me weep. Then it makes me mad.
All I gotta say is that it better watch out. St. George the dragon-slayer has nothing on this momma.
St. George and the Dragon by Gustave Moreau
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” ~ Romans 8:1-2
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~ Romans 8:37-39