I got another email today that made me feel a little less alone in the barren landscape of depression. One of my friends wrote how she’s had a hard week but knows God is there and will comfort us if we are faithful and patient. Depression is a challenge for her and she rocks life in spite of it. This is the same girl who created the YouTube channel TransparentClouds, with all the movies and music videos that entails. (I provided links to four of her videos in this post, https://maneysmilesback.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/credits/ ) Would that all of us could be even half as strong as this human.
I’ll share the email with you because it’s awesome, but let me first make something clear. It’s easy to plaster someone else’s story on this blog and point at it in agreement, especially when their words end on such a positive and hopeful note. But you should know that the main reason I like and share these emails is because lots of times I can’t summon the courage to go spouting joy and rainbows everywhere. Lots of times my “hope” ends up sounding like a sad attempt at parroting church leaders or family members. When I mean it, I write it. But when I don’t mean it, sometimes I just have to keep reading, keep breathing, keep dragging one foot behind the other–how do I even describe it? It’s hard. And it’s what others take for granted.
Ugh, mental illness just sucks! And people don’t get it, or accept it, like they do other diseases like cancer. I know that cancer is the go-to comparison for mental illness, but right now I don’t care about cliches. The best piece I have ever found on this was Freshly Pressed a few months ago, written by Allie Brosh on her blog Hyperbole and a Half. I still think back to it in frustration when people tell me to change my attitude. “MY FISH ARE DEAD!” I want to scream at them. But I don’t. I smile, “Mm-hm, mm-hm.” (But warning, if you read it, brace yourself for I’m pretty sure a few F-bombs. These are the breaks, folks. You should read it anyway.)
Anyway, I’ll give you the email now. I’m grateful for her optimism, and for her honesty in this challenge. And I really hope the world gets better at accepting that not everyone can feel happy. Stop making it about you and please just figure out how to love better.
This is what she (coincidentally another ginger) wrote:
“It really has been a fun week. Of course there were down moments. You know, I am going to be real with all of you right now. This week I had moments when my depression came on hard. Real hard. At times it felt like I was on a roller coaster and I was holding on for dear life as there were many ups and downs during the week. It really seemed like the depression did a sneak attack on me. I really don’t know the cause of it because I can’t seem to pinpoint where exactly it started coming up again. I really think the biggest miracle for me this week was when the depression vanished. At the beginning of this week, I didn’t feel quite like myself – it seemed like “other me” was taking over. I just didn’t seem to be able to shake it off – I really was beginning to wonder if I would be able to overcome it. Satan was putting a lot of doubts in my mind whether I could finish my mission. I knew I wouldn’t go home, but I knew that my mission was going to be a living hell if I had to do it this way. Then Friday came, I don’t know how it happened, but in the middle of the day, the depression was gone. Just like that. I can’t explain it. It was like God turned off the “depression light switch”. I finally felt like myself again. The Atonement is real. During those dark moments it felt like I was stuck being the “other Sister [Jones]” – but that is not true. Because of the Atonement, everyone can change. I tell you this because – well, I don’t know. Usually I leave out things like this because I like to focus on the good. But for some reason I felt like I needed to include this. Maybe it is to let someone know that missionary life is not a super easy thing where every single day is walking on cloud 9, but it is worth it. Maybe someone needs to know that the trial you are going through WILL PASS. There could be many reasons. Just because I am a missionary doesn’t mean I am perfect. It doesn’t all the sudden make me a different person. No, things take time. We have to do something about it. Be patient and God will provide.- maybe not in the way you think – but He always does. Now that is the greatest news ever.”
I would argue that most times the “depression light switch” doesn’t get turned off, and we’re left feeling quite alone and possibly even unloved by our Creator. Having depression doesn’t mean that you are alone, or that you are unloved. Keep holding on, Reader. She’s right about things taking time, and also about trials passing. Hold on.
Maybe I’m just reaching into the darkness and trying to touch something better than the present.
And if any of you, like me, need to hear something chill and beautiful, I recommend “To Build a Home” by The Cinematic Orchestra. Plus I really like the music video.