Climbing Out Of Depression
by Taylor Tomaselli
I have a confession. I am climbing out of depression. Again. (It’s not the first time.)
Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I get angry. Sometimes I stay up late, tossing and turning with anxiety as I worry about tomorrow’s problems. Those are not things I’m proud of, but I also do not intend to hide these flaws.
We have all had moments of weakness. Moments when we feel helpless, moments when we want to give up. Too many times I have had the urge to excuse myself into an empty room, lock the door, and SCREAM at the top of my lungs. Or when I’m down, to just stay down, and wait…for day, weeks, or longer. But what I’ve learned is that this doesn’t make me abnormal, it’s all part of living in an imperfect world. Climbing out of depression isn’t some special problem only a few people have. Depression can sneak up on anyone.
There are many people in the Bible who felt the same way. Some outspoken Christians like to speak only about the miracles and amazing moments of victory experience by bible heroes, but we miss out on the power of exploring our heroes darkest moments. In reality, many of “the saints” went through times of deep depression, and were forced to confront ugly truths about themselves and a broken world.
Moses, David, Abraham. All given credit for accomplishing great things. But just like us, they too, went through painful ordeals, and were human enough to make enormous mistakes in their weak moments.
There’s one person who comes to mind immediately when I think of “angsty” characters. Elijah. Elijah, after experiencing one of the greatest successes of his calling, somehow finds a way to hit his lowest point. He was depressed. And not just bing-on-ice-cream, your-boyfriend-left-you-and-moved-on depressed.
He was suicidal.
The same man who had just confidently proclaimed God’s message to an entire country…prayed and watched fire shoot down from the sky…and miraculously outrun a king’s chariot on foot…was despondent.
A single threat was all it took. He should’ve remained confident. Instead he gave in to the temptation to fear. And he was overcome with paralyzing fear. Hiding.
Can you relate? I can.
Here’s the good part. As pathetic as it seems, even when Elijah responded so pathetically, he was still taken care of. Even in the midst of his failure, God heard his cries, and empathized with his pain on a deeper level than we could understand. At his darkest hour, an angel appeared to Elijah, and instead of telling him to “get over it,” he provides him with food, and commands him to get up and eat.
I think this an awesome snapshot of what God is really like. He could’ve scolded the man, or punished him. He reacts with patience. He is sensitive to his pain and has compassion for his condition. He could’ve condemned the man; instead he uses gentleness, letting Elijah know that he is worth more than his success or failure. These God-moments are Elijah’s first moments climbing out of depression.
Climbing out of depression isn’t a solo act.
Most of us have been Elijahs at some point in our life. Even when we have been protected countless times in the past, even when we have seen with our very own eyes just how powerful God is; the temptation to fear never really goes away. We forget past victories. We become prisoners of present fear. We need assurance over and over again.
I have battled chronic Lyme disease since I was a child, and only have vague memories of what it was like to be healthy. I’ve experienced rejection and abuse in my life and struggled to move past those hurts. I have fallen victim to the lies of the enemy and allowed them to define me. I couldn’t count the times I’ve allowed my mind to take me hostage. I have lost those battles before, and I know I will lose battles in the future.
But. I also know that I will never be permanently defeated. Correction. God will never be defeated. I am free to live my life knowing that I am only building more and more resilience with each blow. Through Christ, I have the strength to move forward. Though I lose some battles, I will win the war. It’s not that I will never be depressed. It’s that when I get there, I will remember to call the expert on climbing out. And every time it happens, I’ll be quicker to remember.
You don’t have to be a victim. Those who put their trust in Jesus Christ as Savior, can never truly lose. No matter where you are in life, you can know, without a doubt that God will work everything out for a greater purpose. You don’t have to stay confined in the prison of darkness anymore. He will guide you , no matter what curve ball you are thrown.
That doesn’t usually make sense to us in the moment. Thankfully, God doesn’t operate in terms we understand. He doesn’t change his mind when we respond with frustration. He doesn’t get angry when we fail to live up to the person we said we would be. Though we early lose faith and forget what’s guaranteed, God remains the same. Often, we aren’t even expecting help when he reaches out his hand offers to lift us out of the pit.
Reaching up and out seems just as hard as going it alone. But it’s not.
I don’t know what you might be dealing with, but whatever it is, don’t ignore it. Don’t pretend you’re not struggling if you’re really struggling. You may need to actually talk with someone you trust, someone with faith. You may not feel you have anyone like that right now. So you may have to reach out to someone you don’t yet know, maybe a faith-leader in the local church here in Watertown. You may have to confront a problem you’d prefer not to, make some changes, or both. You can’t pull yourself out, but you can do whatever it takes to reach out your hand, and ask God to shine a light on the situation. Don’t be surprised when you experience some God-moments…some of your first moments climbing out of depression.
“The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by. Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire, there came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?'”
– 1st Kings 19:11-13