Dealing with Depression while Believing in God
I have been in church all of my life. I have sang in the choir, danced on the dance ministry, and been active in several other areas. I believe that my connection to God and His people is one of the best things about me.
I also have been diagnosed with depression.
It’s been about five years now, and I am just now able to really share my story without feeling stigmatized or judged, even though I know those things still happen. I am just now able to say that I have depression, and smile at the same time.
Intersectionality is — in short — the connectedness of all of our parts, as they cannot go one without the other, especially when it comes to systems of oppression and how one part cannot be discussed without the other. As a black feminist and Christian it has taken me years to be able to connect those two parts of me without feeling as if I am leaving out one or being more accepting of the other. Then, throwing a mental illness into the mix causes a confusion like none other.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Depression is a serious mood disorder that causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. It is also believed to be caused by an imbalance of neurons in the brain and can be treated with medications like mood suppressants and therapy.
It is not an easy thing. Neither is being a woman or a Christian in these times (some of y’all make us look bad), but try to be all of them. Try to be a young, black, depressed, Christian woman and let me know how your day goes. There are days where all I want to do is sleep or eat. There are days where I’m so manically happy that I scare myself. There are days where I start as one and end as the other. There are nights where my nightmares are so vivid that sleep is the last thing I want to do. There are sometimes where I cry and I have no idea why, where I’m angry for an inexplicable reason. There are times I want to tell someone how I feel, ask for help, but it literally hurts to pick up the phone, and my brain is telling me that I’m a burden on everyone and no one wants to deal with my problems, or that I am overreacting. There are days where panic attacks take over and leave me so drained that blinking is a burden. And honestly, there are days where I know I should pray, I should read my Word, I should go to church, but I just can’t.
But, if I am to be the woman God has called me to be, I know that I have to remember what He has said, regardless. My house and workplace have sticky notes everywhere to remind me of my purpose. My phone gives me reminders to pray, or read, or check in with my mentor. I have systems that help to keep me accountable because I know that if I want to walk into the fullness of what God has for me, depression can’t come with me.
Honestly, though, there are times when even that isn’t enough. But I am learning my triggers and realizing my moods are indicative of what I allow myself to experience. But, even with what I face daily, I know that God has set me up for success. I know that He already knows the outcome. Deuteronomy 31:8 says “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” That tells me that He has already seen the road, already fought the battle, I just have to walk the path.
Believe me, the path ain’t pretty. But I do not write this to solicit prayers or pity. Yes, pray for me, but that is not all I need, or expected for that matter. What I do ask is that we look at how we as Christians treat those with mental disorders and illnesses. How do we talk about depression? Do we equate it with just being sad or overreacting? Do we take it seriously? Do we actually pray for those that we say we will? Do we use the word “depression” in a way that seems like a joke or could make those that do want to seek help afraid of the backlash? Do we educate ourselves in a manner that removes stigma and judgement?
Depression has not just effected me. Trust me, telling my mother, my friends, my family, that I deal with depression was one of the hardest things I have ever done because I did not want to let them down; I did not want them to be afraid for me or of me. I am blessed to have a family that accepts it and me, and loves me in spite of and because of.
I know I’ll be better than okay. I have a support system like none other and my faith in God continues to prove to me that He does all things well. I also have access to great healthcare (for now) and am able to follow the directives of my doctor successfully, because I can afford to.
But everybody ain’t a Logan. Everybody doesn’t know how to articulate how they feel in a way that gets them the help they need and deserve. Everybody doesn’t have a job that invests in their mental health. Everybody can’t go to my doctor.
I am learning to appreciate the crossroads of my intersections. I am learning to articulate what I need, and say how I feel, trusting that I have people around me that will love me the way I need to be loved. I am learning that prayer and Word time are not just helpful when I feel weak, but even better when I am strong. I am learning to use my struggles to bless the lives of others, to show empathy in a way that they may not expect, but deserve. God goes before me, in my path and in my life. He gets it all — the good, bad, and ugly, and I push forward with His power.