I struggled a bit with the title of this post, and I’m still not sure it’s exactly what I meant to say. I mean, I don’t really ever think that depression itself is a good thing. Speaking from experience here, it’s miserable. It’s free-falling in an endless black hole. But I do think that good things can come out of it, and that’s what I wanted to ramble on a little today.
Depression runs in my family and I deal with it in some form usually once every couple of months or so. It doesn’t “trigger” off of anything in particular, but it usually happens when I have too much time on my hands – nothing else to focus on but me. My dear husband thankfully doesn’t really get depressed. He defaults to “happy”, and has a hard time understanding why anyone else wouldn’t, lol. It’s a great thing for him and I’m glad to have that ray of light in my life, but invariably when I get down, he tries to cheer me up.
Why is this a problem? Well, depression (at least for me anyway, can’t speak for others here) isn’t sadness. I’m not down about something, I’m down about everything. It doesn’t matter if everything is going right for me, I just can’t “get happy”. And really, nothing is going to cheer me up. I just have to get out of it myself.
Actually, I have to get over myself. For me (again, I’m just talking about what I’ve experienced, I’m in no way an expert in this area) depression is a companion of a whole lot of selfishness. I don’t mean the kind where someone else would look at my actions and say, “Wow, what a selfish person.” I mean the kind where all I can think about is myself. Where my whole worldview is based on me and what I’m feeling. And since what I’m feeling isn’t great, it gets worse just because I’m thinking about it. I’m not sure if that makes any sense, but it’s a vicious cycle that can be really hard to get out of. Especially as I usually don’t notice it when it’s happening.
But somewhere in the midst of my numb existence, after a certain amount of time I grab onto something. A rope. A lifeline, even. Maybe someone said something, or I started working on a project, or I actually got around to reading my Bible (which always helps, but I rarely can get myself to do it in this state), but more often I’ll read something in a different book. I’ve figured out that I can trick myself in these moods into reading something that will lead me back to God. The Purpose Driven Life is great for that – the whole first chapter is basically “hey, it’s not about you, it’s about God.”
And then it all just clicks. It doesn’t matter what I’m feeling, not if the point of life is God. My purpose, my whole goal in life is to serve Him – so it’s ok if I’m not happy all the time, because that’s no longer the goal of life. In other words, just because I feel bad doesn’t mean I’m not fulfilling my life purpose. I’m here for a reason, circumstances are what they are for a reason, and I’m even feeling what I’m feeling for a reason. I may not have any clue what that reason is, but again, if the world revolves around God, not me, then that’s ok. I don’t need to know. And my struggling to control my life and circumstances and emotions is really a selfish thing for me to do, when what God wants is just for me to trust Him.
It’s a tough thing for me to learn, and I think that’s why the lesson gets repeated as often as it does. So in an odd way, it’s good for me to get depressed from time to time. It helps me trust God, and focus on Him, not me.