Editor’s Note: Nicole Cottrell is the writer behind the blog Modern Reject. She is one of our favorite bloggers, so we are honored to feature her writing here today.
I wasn’t quite sure what was happening. I couldn’t explain it. I didn’t have the words. I didn’t have the energy to try. What I did have was a constant ache, a swelling emotion that everything wasn’t going to be okay. What I had was the overwhelming feeling that I was drowning, desperately trying to keep my head above water.
I wonder what my husband must have been thinking. Here was his wife, who went from being an energetic, vivacious, passionate young woman to being a quiet, sad, exhausted shell of her former self. Why was I sleeping all day? Why had I quit showering, quit eating, quit taking care of our home? He must have thought I had morphed into the world’s laziest person.
But I hadn’t. Something else had taken a hold of me.
This wasn’t an unwillingness to work. This wasn’t me giving in to idle behavior. This was something more. This was something far darker than I had ever confronted before. This was depression.
In many Christian circles, “depression” is a dirty word. I rarely, if ever, heard people talk about depression. If they did, it was usually whispered about in quiet circles and behind closed doors. Depression wasn’t really a sickness, so much as a sin, as if people could just pray harder, snap their fingers, and be freed of it.
So that’s what I thought
–if I could just pray harder, read the Bible more, seek forgiveness of my sins, surely God would just wave His magic wand and rid me of this burden. Except that didn’t happen.
It didn’t happen because as anyone who has suffered with depression knows, you can’t pray your way out of it. Part of the reason, is that things like praying, reading a Bible, going to church, being around other people feels almost physically painful. These things are the last things you want to do, not the first.
Instead of finding comfort in the spiritual practices that usually brought me comfort, I was all-consumed in my own head. I was self-loathing, self-destructive, self-obsessed.
That’s what depression does.
It makes everything that once shone brightly turn gray and fade. It makes you shrink away to a place of self-preservation, which isn’t really possible. And this is how I went on for months, until one day, the fog of depression was lifted.
I have no reason. I have no wrapped-in-a-bow explanation as to why, but one day it was simply gone. I sat in the wake of depression’s destruction though and felt frightened for the future. What if it comes back? What if I hurt myself next time? How do I explain this to friends and family?
God spoke to me so clearly.
This isn’t a sin–this depression. This isn’t a flaw in your design or a mistake. Depression is an illness. It is rampant, especially among women and if ever there were something that needs to be brought to the Light, it is this.
I felt convinced that God did not want me to remain silent and act as though none of this had happened. God did not want me to be fearful of the future either, because when we bring things to the Light they cannot hide. They cannot grow in secret shame. They are exposed to His goodness and His grace.
And so that is where I attempt to reside
–in His goodness and grace. If ever I feel the tentacles of depression wrapping themselves around me again, I do not fear because He is with me. It doesn’t make all of the dark parts magically disappear, but in His Light everything shines.