I knew I needed to get up because there were a ton of things to do. Tasks to accomplish, dishes to clean, floors to sweep, laundry to do, lunch with a friend…but I could not get off the sofa. I can’t explain why, I just could not do it. For hours. Days. Lunch was canceled, laundry was not done, dinner not started. For days. Weeks.
The Solutions Seems Simple
For many of you reading this, the solution seems simple: just get up and do it. It’s a nebulous thing, depression, it’s a weight that makes getting up impossible. Depression is a wall between you and the rest of the world. It’s a haze that makes what you know needs to get done seem impossible. It’s a voice that whispers to you how awful you are because you KNOW it’s all possible, and still you cannot manage. You cannot explain something like this. How do you lift yourself up when that whisper keeps pushing you down? How can you be honest with your loved ones when you fear that it’s you that’s damaged, no good, a problem, lazy, mean, or any other number of things?
Some days and months were better than others. Many who know me would be shocked to know the reality that was my life. The struggle to get up every day. The overwhelming desire to sleep. The need to push everyone away. To isolate. To disappear. It was not then and is not now my fault. Depression can run in families, it can occur without any hereditary cause. It can be brought on by traumatic circumstances or come with the birth of a baby. It can be made better with medication or become worse with the wrong medication. Depression is bewildering, lonely, and is hard for those who love us. It is hard to live with.
How Can You Help Someone Get Up?
Depression can be overcome. It can be lived with. It can be better. You can help and be part of the solution for someone. You can be a support and a light. We are the hands and feet of God; we are His people and we are filled with His Spirit. God made clear that we are to be a community of believers. He made it clear that none should stand alone, for this world is fraught with hardships. God wants you to get up and help others to do the same.
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. – Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV)
How can we be that cord of three? Mostly, it’s a willingness to be awkward and real. Truth is powerful and wonderful when used to help others.
I will always remember when a friend sat me down and asked me seriously “How are you?” and then followed it up with “I really want to know because I think you are not happy.” She invited me to tell her the truth of how I was. Safely, and in a quiet and private atmosphere. I was free to answer and blubber as much as I needed (which was quite a lot as it turned out).
Then she asked if my husband knew how much I was struggling, how she could help me, what did I need. And, feeling safe, I answered her. I told her that I wouldn’t do anything to help myself, that I couldn’t, that I was utterly stuck. That I needed help but had no way to reach for it. That no one really knew how I was struggling at that moment, certainly not my husband, since I was trying desperately to hide it from him.
This friend listened to it all. She heard. And she told me she would follow up with me to see if I got help. And she did. That she wanted my permission to call my husband and tell him that I needed help. And she did.
Do you know someone who struggles with depression? Can you find a time and place to honestly and openly talk to them? To let them know that you are willing to help, to listen, to care? For you will likely have to go to them, they will not come to you. You might have to start the conversation, I know I would never have done so. Ask them how you can tell when they are really struggling, how they want you to react when you see the signs, who they need you to tell if you are really hurting. And let them know you are praying for them. It will mean the world to them, it did for me.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2 (NIV)