Today I was riding home from Missouri with Best Life Ministries girls. We were in a continual state of chatter feeling so blessed by the experience and the amazing hospitality we received. I brought up the fact that I still had no ideas for my blog that had to be written by tonight. There was such an expression of warmth and gratitude from the folks of St. Joseph that I had decided to blog on the gift of hospitality. Thank you to smartphones. I checked my email and found a heartbreaking message from a dear friend. Someone very precious to me had overdosed. That changed everything.
I still vividly remember what it was like. It took every ounce of strength I had to get out of bed, put on a happy face and go to work. The memories of the icky neighbor were new. It brought everything in my body to a screeching halt. Everything felt heavy and hard. I even remember sitting on the couch telling myself to get up and do laundry, but I couldn’t move. My mind and body didn’t seem to work together anymore. I remember not liking how I felt-emotionally, physically and spiritually. I remember wanting it to change and being unable to make the change happen.
Depression is not merely being really sad. It is a clinical mental illness that affects one in every ten of us. Up to 80% of the time it can be treated effectively but 80% of us wont seek treatment (Depression Help Spot). I could have easily become one of the 80% because the last thing I wanted to do was go to a therapist. Thankfully there was someone in my life who knew it was imperative that I go and she talked me into it. At my first visit to the therapist, she told me that I didn’t have to be there. I responded, “Yes I do, I don’t want to feel like this anymore.”
In Luke 3:17 (MSG), John the Baptist describes Jesus like this: will ignite the kingdom life, a fire, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.” I have to be honest. That is exactly what He did for me. He took this tiny thread of hope that I was holding onto and pulled me into new life. He cleaned my inner house in such a dramatic way that I now stand hope filled. It is a promise He makes to all of us. He will do it for you.
I really believe He will do it for all of us whether we struggle with mental illness, emotional wounds, grief-all of it. But there has been a key for me in all of this. I have to use my voice. I have to talk to someone-a therapist, pastor, close friends and always my husband. We have to stop being afraid to talk about it. When we talk about it, it loses its sense of shame and secrecy. If we don’t use our voice, it comes out in other far more destructive ways. It may be deeper more destructive mental illness, destroyed relationships and even physical illness. Using my voice opened the door for hope, healing and God to move in my life.
Having depression is not a sign of weakness or failure. It is an illness that needs to be treated. My friend will be okay-physically. If she will let me, I will walk this with her. I never would have sought help without someone encouraging me and helping me find the resources I needed.
We have to use our voice for ourselves and others who need an advocate. We have to talk about it.
Are you willing to give your voice? Are you willing to aid in lifting the stigma of depression and mental illness? Let’s commit to encourage and pray for one another. I pray that the Holy Spirit washes you clean of all that breaks your heart. Tell me your story-give it a voice-and I’ll commit to praying with you.