confession: I have suffered from depressive episodes all my life. I didn’t know that’s what it was because black people generally don’t talk about that kind of stuff.
It got REALLY bad when I was pregnant. Both times I had post partum depression–with the first one? It was full blown, full out episodes that my husband (a full 20 years older than me, and mired deeply in poor attitudes about mental health) had no idea how to help me. In fact? He and his unhealed trauma made it worse.
I was (mercifully) not suicidal or homicidal; however, I did not want to live and it showed in my actions. It was hard on everyone around me. There were times when I knew I wasn’t quite right, when the Holy Spirit would just say to me, “Go HOME.” I’d drive miles and miles to my mother’s house in Mississippi all the way from Houston, TX, just to hand my child off into the safe awaiting arms of my parents before going to lie down for days. All I wanted to do was make sure she was safe from whatever was crawling up my chest.
Our Father is kind to His sons and daughters, or whatever Brian Courtney Wilson was singing about.
But even before that—before babies and post partum, I had moments where I would feel myself slipping into a hole of silent emptiness. The darkness seemed like it had hands that would press me down further and further the lower I felt. I absolutely hated most drugs that many of my college friends took; who needed help being low? It seemed to me that everything they wanted me to try just dragged me down—and I already felt like that. Why add to the smothering feeling of nothingness? Around my 3rd year of college, I finally took the “L” and went to the student health center where they gave me pills for the first time that brought me to a place of stasis. I could think clearly and longitudinally, without the deep unending valleys that I’d fall into before.
It never dawned on me between then and getting pregnant that the two things kind of went together: that the depressive episodes I experienced in college were cousins to the postpartum depression that choked me out.
Now that I’ve experienced all that, I see it everywhere. All the time. Depression doesn’t always look like the movies always. Some of us? We function, go through the motions of each day unfeeling. That robotic way of life breaks sometimes and we devolve into anger, drugs, alcohol, and violence in a desperate fight to escape the black hole. Nobody acknowledges our pain because to do so they’d have to admit that prayer is not enough–and what does that then do to our human view of God?
The reality is that it does nothing but add to our understanding of God—if we allow it to.
Here’s what you should know: God made us to be perfect, but the issue of sin in the earth means that everything has been corrupted. Including your physical body. And because humanists and some scientists don’t believe it to be so (and therefore don’t teach it) AND because the church is ignorant in its understanding to teach the concept of the triune being of man (particularly that our minds and brains are two different things), we live life in shame and secret because we’ve made the sin seeking help outside the church instead of the sin being refusing to admit that we need help that includes medical intervention.
See, the tree we ate off of? It was the tree of the KNOWLEDGE of good and evil. So that now every idea and invention has to run the gamut of us knowing what is good and what is evil—then choosing one. Why did I say that? Well. God blessed doctors and researchers with amazing techniques and medications designed to help our mortal bodies. That understanding and their decision to help and not harm is just as much as a miracle as speaking a word and we be healed. Jesus showed us that when we spoke to one blind man, touched one, and spit in the mud to make a salve for the other.
The method don’t matter as much as the miracle does.
If this is you today, I encourage you in the love of Christ to seek help outside yourself. Prayer mired in mental illness becomes an echo chamber that pushes you further into the hole you’re trying to claw your way out of. The word says that we ought to confess our faults one to another; and despite what the church may say, Godly counselors are ordained to sit with you and guide you out of yourself so that you CAN reach wholeness. No (wo)man is an island. We all need a hand to hold. That’s why we have them: to hold each other.
Get help. You are worth it. And people who judge you for it don’t need to be in your life anyway.
Meanwhile, I am praying for you and with you, that God (through God’s infinite ways) regulates your mind.