I can feel it coming on. The darkness. First, only around the edges, creeping in like a dense fog that I know will, if it continues, consume me and completely separate me from everything except the thoughts that swirl in my head. Thoughts that taunt me with hurtful things and imaginings, making me cry, then weep, then become angry in a way that I cannot grasp. Words and faces become harder to focus on and forgetfulness struggles to keep me bound within the prison that is rapidly surrounding me. The walls close in and yet I cannot bear the thought of getting out because then the vastness of space overtakes what bit of sanity I feel I have left. I look around at the beauty I saw only yesterday and find it colorless and lacking and am even more saddened that it holds no interest to me and for that moment in time, I can’t find it within myself to care about anything. Music, which is a source of great enjoyment becomes, instead of melodies, waves of noise that threaten to send me over the edge. I become isolated by my own insecurities and emptiness and there is nowhere to go and to no one that I can turn. At least that is how I feel during these dark days.
From one end of the house to the other, I pace, pace and pace some more. Food doesn’t appeal, and all I can think of is how angry I feel. There is never any warning before these days come, they just come. Sometimes the darkness lasts for a day and others for several days. I can’t sleep or think. Working is a chore as it takes every fiber of my being to do my job without screaming, crying or just collapsing in pile of despair. I hope the phone will ring, that someone will call just so that I know there is another human on the planet that cares about me and at the same time, I can’t bear to talk to anyone. There is nothing to say and no way to say it without sounding like a complete nut. Forcing a smile becomes second nature for without it, there are the questions of what’s wrong? Are you ok? Why are you so quiet? And there are no answers to these questions. What could I possibly say? That I just want to disappear into a mist of nothingness until whatever it is that is consuming me goes away? And then comes the niggling thought that maybe I’ll feel like this forever and that the laughter will never come back into my life and the despair overtakes me.
I spend a lot of time avoiding God, or at least trying to. While I try to run from Him, He is steadily waiting for me to come to Him. I find that I cannot out-wait God. His mercy and patience far exceeds anything that I can even fathom. I cry out to Him to take this darkness from me because I cannot fight it alone. It is a scary place to be, where screams won’t come, laughter is lost and there is no release from the constriction that threatens to suffocate me.
And then, a ray, small at first, but a ray … and then a note, then a melody, then a bubble of laughter. The darkness opens up and hope shines through, a bright beacon in what has been a harrowing space in time. The smile becomes genuine and my heart, once heavy and burdened, becomes lighter. The mercy and grace from a patient and loving God opens the door and I am able to walk through, safe again from the depression that would, if it could, destroy me.
It is usually at this time that I crash, sleeping twelve or more hours at a time, waking to feel groggy and hung over, but better nonetheless. After the crash comes the healing. It isn’t possible to explain to someone who has never experienced spirals of depression how it feels. It is not possible to explain to a Christian how I can be so hopeless and still believe in a marvelous God. Just because I cannot find it within myself to come out of the darkness doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in the light. For now, the moment has passed. Maybe it will be years before it happens again. Maybe it will never happen again. Or maybe I will wake up in the morning feeling as though the floor of my world has fallen away and I, too am falling into nothingness. But until then, I will glorify God, shoot my Pentax and bask in a life worth living.
If you suffer from episodes of depression, you are not alone and you have nothing to be ashamed about. While it may seem that you are in a world of one, you are not. Hope doesn’t desert us when we give up on it, it just waits until we are able to look for it again. And, as always, it is there and with it comes the laughter.