I’m not fine. That was probably one of the hardest things to say to the people around me. This isn’t something new, something novel, but rather something that I have been feeling for kind of a long time. I don’t know why, but telling those close to me that I am not ok was incredibly hard. What if I bring them down? What if they don’t get it? What if this isn’t real?
It seems like I have lived with anxiety for a long time. It was never too bad, but it was always there. Sitting there in the back of my mind. This year kind of changed everything. That little feeling would grow. It would grow until it started to consume me. My heart would begin to race. My breath would quicken. My mind was racing. All while I was chained where I was. Unable to move, for even that was too difficult. I’m sure that this sounds all too familiar to many of you. Anxiety is everywhere, but it seems taboo to talk about.
Sometimes it is frustrating to try to explain to people how you are feeling. Depression is thrown around so casually that it loses its meaning. When I try to explain how I am feeling. How I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to get out of bed. I don’t want to hang out with friends. I don’t want anything. People don’t get this. The response of “Hey, it will be ok. Everyone gets sad. You will get through it” feels cold and unsympathetic. Depression is not just sadness. When I am feeling depressed, I don’t feel like it will ever be ok. I don’t see myself getting through it. I may seem fine on the outside, but often times I’m not fine. I can have fun when I am depressed. I can laugh and joke, but at the end of the day everything still feels hopeless.
Mental health is much like physical health. If I broke my arm I would go to the hospital to have a doctor tend to it, but for some reason we see mental health differently. It took me years to realize that I could not fix my depression and anxiety by myself. I needed help.
The beginning of the healing process for me was opening up what was going on deep down inside of me. Just telling anyone that I wasn’t ok was hard. It was really hard, and honestly at first it just made the anxiety and depression worse. I felt ashamed. How could I be a good Christian and the person that they love to be around if I am depressed? I still am nervous to talk about it. Even writing this is scary. Even through the pain, this was where the healing started.
Soon after this time, I stumbled across a podcast episode. It was an episode with James Duke. He is a guitarist that I really look up to, and to hear him open up about his battle with depression was so incredibly liberating. Hearing James describe what he went through almost justified what I was feeling. I finally felt like someone understood me. One of the things that James said on the podcast was “Anything you can’t talk about owns you.” This just floored me. I realized that my mental health was owning me.
The last couple months have been a rollercoaster ride. I have felt some of the darkest depression I have experienced in my life. I have had more panic attacks that I can remember, but even through this I’ve felt more free. I feel liberated because I am not alone anymore. I have people to talk to, but more importantly, I have given this up to God. I don’t know why I felt like I had to keep it, but I realized that God is so much stronger than I am. He knows more that I am. He can deal with my mental health. I don’t need to be ashamed.
The common advice in Christian circles is “Pray about it,” and while this isn’t bad advice, I think there is better advice. Let God do His work. The beginning of this is being honest with God. My depression isn’t too big for God. As I read more and more of the Bible I can see the mountains that God has moved and I can be sure that God is working today. I know that God may not make my depression go away completely. I may still experience anxiety, but it no longer owns me.
I am so grateful for those in my life that have and will support me on this journey. Some of you may not know it, but just being around you has been therapeutic. I’m not sure where I would be without God guiding my every day and placing people into my life to help me survive this. I would highly recommend checking out this podcast. James Duke helped me to begin the process of getting help and his interview has changed my life. If you are currently struggling through depression or anxiety, know that you are not alone in this. You may feel it. I know I did, but there are people that want to help you. If you need help, it is out there. Feel free to reach out to me if you need help. Life is hard, but it is easier together and it is easier when you have God on your side.