This morning, as I sat alone at my kitchen table waiting for the sun to come up, I felt the fog of depression begin to settle over my heart and mind again. Feeling its tendrils wrap around me, my pulse quickened as a slight sense of panic began to arise. I longed for it to let me go. Yet, oddly enough, its presence had become so familiar, a part of me clung to it as if it were my best friend. Somehow, depression understood what I was going through, and grieved right along with me.

The Realities of Depression

Can you relate? Have you ever struggled with depression yourself? Sometimes, the long, cold, dark days of winter trigger episodes within me. Other times unperceived reasons bring them on, leaving me to wonder what is wrong with me.

I have a confession to make. Until recently, I did not clearly understand depression. I thought it was something people could easily shake from their lives. If only they would try harder. Smile more. Laugh more. Pray more. Think of others more. Then they could easily bring back a stable frame of mind. Right?

Wrong.  How could I have been so insensitive and judgmental?

Now that I am experiencing depression, I understand the tight hold it can have on people. Initially, depression consumed me in such a way that all I could see was the darkness. It was oppressive, and void of hope. I felt lonely and worthless. I begged God to wipe away this tumultuous cloud, but it has remained with me for several months now. I have moments, and sometimes days, even, when the weight of depression lifts, but it seems to never leave entirely.

It lurks close by, and just when I start to feel “normal” again, it overtakes me once more.  Almost as if it is a jealous, controlling beast, who will do anything to keep me bound to it.

It is not going to win, though!

Joy Even in Depression

What depression doesn’t understand is, the weaker I become physically and emotionally, the more I must lean into Jesus. He is my strength. My sustainer. My joy. Yes, my JOY!  Christ is showing me that even in my current mental state, I can experience the joy of the Lord, not because I am happy, but because He is right here with me. He is holding me up, reminding me that I am His, even on the days when I cannot feel His presence. My circumstances do not have to be perfect, peaceful and pain-free for me to sing praises to Him, for He is working in the midst of my struggles, molding and maturing me right here, right now, using this depression for His glory.  Through the emotional pain, I am learning in a very real way that:

  • Even in the dark depths of depression, the love of God is present.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life…nor things present nor things to come…nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”  (Romans 8:38-39).

  • Even when I feel insufferably weak, He gives me strength.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses…For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

  • Even in the angst of my despair, the Lord gives the gift of joy to sustain me.

“Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

  • Even in the oppression of hopelessness, God brings me to a place of praise.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him” (Psalm 42:5). 

Yes, I will continue to praise Him, through the good and the bad, through the hard and the pleasant days. When I begin to feel worthless and sad, He is right there, reminding me that I am His child, created in His image, with great purpose. With every lie that Satan tries to make me believe, the Holy Spirit reminds me of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And I choose to cling to Jesus, for He is my reason to keep going another day, even when I don’t want to move.  He is my hope for a future, even when I don’t know how to make it through the hour. He is my life, even when I have fleeting thoughts of death.

I need you, Lord, more than I ever realized before. How could I have taken You for granted like I did? Forgive me for being arrogant and blind. And thank You for bringing me to this place where I finally see that I need You more than I need a breath of air. Without You, I am nothing, and I long to have more of You. What a gift this awful depression has been to help me see that.

Twila Miles lives in Raleigh, NC with her husband and five children, the oldest of whom was adopted from Ukraine at the tender age of 12. From her experiences as an adoptive mother, she wrote her first book, Whispers of Hope:  Finding Perspective Post Adoption. She received her MA in Theological Studies from Covenant Theological Seminary, and currently serves alongside her husband in starting a new church plant.  During her free time, Twila either pulls out her art supplies to create a new painting, curls up on the couch with a good book, or catches a long-needed nap.