The darkness and weight of depression often leave me breathless. The thickness of it can make me feel like there is no way out, especially when the words rolling around my head are: “forsaken,” “worthless,” and “broken.” But a lot of the time I also don’t think I deserve the label of depression. To be clear, a mental health diagnosis is not something one deserves or must earn; one should not have to prove the depths of their pain. While I know these words to be true, there is an internal voice that insists that because I do activities of daily living—get dressed, brush my teeth, read a book, attend college classes—I must not be depressed. In the past, I have used self-harm as a way to prove to myself and others that I am, in fact, struggling. Each scar is a moment of feeling overwhelmed frozen in time, a moment when I did not know what to do with my desire to no longer be alive.
I say these words both for my benefit and in the hopes they will remind someone else of the truth: depression looks different for different people. There are standardized descriptions of symptoms, but because every person and everybody is unique, living with any illness is individualized. Sometimes there is a clear cause, sometimes the darkness comes out of nowhere.
I often turn to 19th-century Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon’s words about depression: “Causeless depression cannot be reasoned with, nor can David’s harp charm it away by sweet discourses. One would as well fight with the mist as with this shapeless, undefinable, yet all-beclouding hopelessness.”
One day the darkness might hold you hostage in bed, and the next it might give you enough space for basic functioning. There could be a string of good days with one bad day in the middle or there could be moments of struggle and moments of ease within every day.
However depression manifests itself, it can make one feel hopeless. More often than not, I resonate more with the English soccer fan mantra, “It’s the hope that kills you,” than an upbeat optimism like the one embodied in the TV show Ted Lasso. Why have hope? The constant heaviness can make the future seem impossible, like something that is always just out of reach. I don’t want to live in the future my depression envisions for me, so I need help seeing past the dark clouds.
Here again, I turn to another’s words for encouragement. When I cannot imagine a life without darkness, a life where the end is not tragic, Samwise Gamgee’s words (The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers, 2002) ring in my ears. As Frodo sits beneath the weight and difficulty of continuing his journey, it all seems like too much. Sam says, “It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will out the clearer.”
As we ask, “How could the end be happy? How could my world go back to the way it was when so much bad has happened?” be reminded that the sun will continue to rise no matter how thick the shadows seem.
“Even darkness must pass.”
And you don’t want to miss the light that comes out of the darkness.
Depression has a way of making us feel incredibly isolated. We’re here to remind you of the truth that you are not alone. We encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool to locate professional help and to read more stories like this one here. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. If it’s encouragement or a listening ear that you need, email our team at [email protected].