[0] Depression feels like a gaping black hole in the middle of your chest. Something akin to a vacuum. You try to fill it up with things but it never fills up fast enough and you worry that your chest will cave in on itself as the opening gets bigger and bigger. It sucks the life out of you.

I know the root of my depression comes from an idolatrous nature. I’m finding my worth in something else besides God. I’m trying to fill up on something else besides God. I rely on my own productivity, strength, will, personality, etc. I try to find momentary relief and temporal happiness in a completed project, a relationship, ice cream, etc. On my checklist of to-do items, I mark them off one by one, only to have new ones take its place. It’s never ending. I’m so tired.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. Psalm 27:1-3.

The Lord directs me to lie down. RestBe still. “I can’t fill you up if you’re running around bleeding yourself dry.” He tells me to trust Him and let everything else go. “I am your shepherd. I will take care of you.” Slowly and patiently, as I learn to surrender my life to Him, He restores my soul.

[1] Depression feels like your heart is turning to stone. You can’t bring yourself to care about things you used to care about. You feel like a terrible person, a terrible friend, a terrible daughter, a terrible Christian, as you let things slip and cancel on people left and right. You become more irritable and realize how crappy of a person you are in your darkness and gloom. As your heart turns to rock, it hurts you, as if you can feel the pressure that pushes down on your chest in order to petrify it. Sometimes it throbs in rebellion and you wonder if you’re too young to have a heart attack. A times, it gets hard to breathe and other times, you wish you’d stop breathing altogether.

Ezekiel 36:25-26 | I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 

It annoys me when I’m anything less than perfect. Some idiotic part of me still thinks that I can be if I try hard enough. It grates on me whenever I mess up or backslide; I take personal offense when I cannot shape up and get it together. But, the Lord reminds me that the “I” in these verses refer to the great “I Am,” the only one who is able to fashion a new heart for me and take out my heart of stone without leaving me with irremediable consequences. Stop thinking in terms of “I need to do this” and start thinking instead of “God will take care of this.” I will be the one to deliver you.

[2] Depression feels like an old childhood wound that you pick the scab off of and dig your fingers into. My counselor says that when we are hurt, we’re left with a wound. Over time, it stops bleeding. It gets bandaged and wrapped up. It then starts to scab over. All of this takes time, the length depending on the severity of the wound. But then sometimes mine feels so fresh, as if I was struck that very day by the same assailant years ago.

Psalm 147 | He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. 

My counselor points out: wounds that are bound up are always a step closer to healing than those that are not. “You’ve wrapped up your wound. You’re getting somewhere. Just remember that.” Healing does not happen instantaneously. I scour the internet for verses on pain; what can help me overcome this pain? All the verses that come up do not give me an answer but point me towards Jesus. It hits me as I read through the verses: Jesus doesn’t guarantee that He’ll take away our pain in the here and now. But, just as He promises to be with us, He promises that there is a day coming where the pain will stop. He points us forward. Hope is what will get us through pain. Faith through hope is what will sustain me as I hurt in the present. What the Lord asks me to remember is the simple truth: “I will heal you.” Just wait and see.

[3] Depression feels like death. It makes you feel like a hollow shell. Sleep is all you want to do; you’re hazy and tired and weary. Your bones feel brittle, your flesh is weak. There’s a very real physical component to depression; your mind and body work in conjunction against you. You feel extremely heavy. You get pins and needles sensations in your arms and hands because any small movement you make makes the world spin and your body screams at you to stop, please stop. I cannot explain accurately to you how difficult it is to move. Your whole body cries out in protest as tears leak from your eyes; “Get up, get up,” you plead but your body wants to return to the dust.

Ezekiel 37:5-6 | This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones; I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord. 

Yet, if the Lord is able to breathe life into dry bones, then what can He do with me? My heart is still beating, lungs are still breathing, the flesh that decorates my bones is still soft and pliable. Even though I may feel that I am in pieces, I know I am still whole. The Lord binds me together and breathes life into me, even as depression threatens to steal it away. Death stands no chance against the one who defeated it on the cross.

[4] Hope feels like one thousandth chances. Hope feels like small victories like regulating my breathing pattern and dispelling my dizzy spells. Hope feels like light filtering through the cracks of my heart as I start to breathe out words, little by little to those around me. (It is quite uncommon for me to share when I am in the pits; always only after I have come around do I dare to share.) Hope feels like forgiveness, understanding, compassion, the “it’s okay to be sad”s that come from my faithful community. Hope feels like tears being collected in my Father’s bottle and written down in His book of life.

I am learning to apply scripture to the little things in my life. God’s Word provides for me a treasure cove of ointments, remedies, treatments, and encouragement. It’s hard to remember to turn to it at first, especially when I lack the energy to think consciously and meditate on Scripture, but, God is faithful. I am nestled deep in my Father’s embrace, under the shadow of His wings, and I am learning to heal, little by little, through His overcoming and steadfast love.

I always asked the Lord, “what is the point of all of this? How the heck am I to glorify you in this state? I’m more likely to curse you and bring shame to you like this.” I still haven’t quite come upon the answer but I suspect that the Lord knows what He’s doing. Just trust me and that is enough.

Isaiah 41:10 | Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.