When I was younger, I felt numb. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. Everything in my life seemed colorless and dull.
I guess I struggled with depression for the majority of my formative years, but I didn’t realize it until I was about 17. Now, I didn’t become this way because of a bad home life or bad decisions, but nevertheless the shadow of depression hung over my eyes from age 11 to 18.
It started at a little private school I attended from 5th to 7th grade. When you transfer to a new school, it can be difficult. At that age, it’s hard to find stability in a place that feels more like an alien planet than home. I didn’t understand the traditions, culture and process of the brick building connected to a church. Kids would make fun of me because I had a high voice and didn’t fit in much. I was shy, socially awkward, and above all, wanted a friend. I remember crying to my parents, faking sick, or making my self sick almost every morning in an attempt to stay away from a place that seemed so dark to me.
When I entered public school things began to look up. I made friends, good connections and grew into myself a bit more. I was outgoing and quickly found my place in music and dramatic arts. But still, my constant silent companion, depression, was with me.
It wasn’t until my junior year of High School that my symptoms became more aggressive. When you feel trapped by your own mind, anything that distracts you from yourself is perceived as a good thing. I began trusting the wrong people, making decisions that hurt myself and others, and spending the majority of my time locked in my room. I was on a path that ended abruptly in self destruction. By the climax of my fight, I had already planned out how I would commit suicide, I knew what my note would say to my family and friends, and had the place I would do it picked out.
Luckily, I didn’t go through with it.
Depression is an epidemic in our world. Almost 15 million American adults struggle with Major Depressive Disorder. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 25 to 34 year olds, and the second leading cause of death in among college students. Every year, nearly a million people attempt suicide, and every 17 minutes, one of those attempts is successful. 88 people die by suicide each day in the United States. According to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, suicide rates have increased more that 30 percent in 10 years. In 2012, suicide overtook car accidents America’s leading cause of injury related deaths.
This means Americans are more likely to die on purpose than on accident.
I grew up in the church, was surrounded by good influences, and had a good home life. But I was still affected. What could happen to people who weren’t given what I was? I think the numbers speak for themselves.
The Church has a unique and wonderful opportunity to reach those struggling with depression. We can love those who feel loveless, show compassion to people who feel like they are a burden, and train each other on how to fight this silent epidemic. Through education, nonjudgmental love, and compassion, the church is posed to be a catalyst of change.
God doesn’t look down on those who struggle with it. Being a Christian and not feeling “full of the Lords joy” is not something to be ashamed of. We need to remove the stigma of feeling ashamed of struggling with thoughts of suicide and depression. There’s no stigma about a broken arm. But a broken mind or heart and we seem to shy away from getting the help that we need.
If you feel like you may be struggling with depression, let me say this to you: it’s okay. It’s not shameful. It’s not something we should keep hidden away, isolating ourselves in a dark and lonely existence. If you are having thoughts of suicide or self harm, please, please let someone know. No one should have to fight alone.
"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.”
If you need help call 1-800-273-8255
For more information or to get involved visit twloha.com