As I read through so many of the statuses and tweets regarding Robin Williams depression and successive suicide, so many of you are taking an “action” approach and reaction.
I want to write from personal experience (and current experience). Depression has been something that I have dealt with since High School, it has reared its ugly head since last October where God moved me into such an isolated season for preparation for the future that I know God has called me to in God’s timing. I have done so much to work more, adding things to my plate that I could not handle so that I can stay up all night working so that I don’t have to have a conversation with others or myself. I work so that I can smile because I know the moment I stop working, I will begin crying. What really pierced me was the entire month of July where it seemed as If the work I was doing was no longer good enough, and I went from a closeted depressed person to a seriously depressed person.
This culminated two weeks ago after leaving church service as I sat on the top of a parking garage ready to jump and end my life. I didn’t. So I went home and cut myself in my leg.
I did not know who I could trust to be transparent with who would not judge me and in time use it against me. I had asked many people to get dinner and coffee all month, yet everyone always had something to do. Those same individuals were upset when I could not eat with them…crazy.
Depression is not something that requires action, it requires presence. You would be amazed how far a simple handshake or hug goes instead of asking someone to do something or change something about him or her. I don’t need someone to tell me I preached a good sermon. I don’t need someone to tell me that my work is Good. I know that. I need someone to tell me, I’m glad to see you. The reason – you don’t know how hard it was to wake up and come here and fake this smile. Tell me, God loves you. The reason – there are times where it feels like no one does and I need the reminder, and I know that you don’t. Don’t ask me what’s wrong, but just engage me in conversation. That question makes me see all that is wrong in my life. Don’t ask why my tone is off, engage me in something that you love, and tell me about your life because there is something God has allowed us to be together in that moment that I need to hear. Depression does not need you to figure out what is going on in my life; I need someone present to keep me from myself.
I understand, you are reading this upset that I am a preacher of the Gospel struggling with something. It's crazy right? Please don’t forget that I am human and that every struggle is not Drugs, Alcohol, Sex and Money. You would be amazed at the Preachers I know who leave pulpits after preaching, go home and sit in the dark because after they pour their hearts out, people come with daggers to stab at their lungs. The lack of true understanding and care in culture will bring a number of you whose churches I have preached at to view me differently. It’s sad but its true.
Regardless, what’s the resolve, what has kept me sane and still does? The bible tells us that when Job dealt with suffering, he had three friends who showed up and they didn’t do anything, but they were just “there.” Before they spoke, before they said anything, before they had a long drawn out conversation seeking to find out Job’s issues and root causes, they were just there. Speaking from experience, those you know who may be dealing with these issues need people who are just “there.”
The hardest thing to do is smile. Feigning happiness so you will shut up. Wearing extra clothes so you will stop asking why you lost so much weight. Using eye drops so you won’t see my red eyes. As a matter of fact for me, not coming to church so that I won’t be asked questions why I'm not happy. Don’t ask what’s wrong, just be there.
For me, preaching these past two weeks was not a financial thing, it was God ordained because God knew I needed it. That’s my therapy, that’s my care. I thank God for those moments because I needed to be ME.
Is professional help necessary? Yes! But that can only go an hour. 23 hours a day still exist.
So What? How can you be present and “there” with those dealing with depression? Here’s what I wish I had in July before I found myself on top of that parking garage.
1. Be Present – If you sense something on someone’s face, don’t try to fix it, but sit with them. Hold conversations with them about those things they hold dear. Sports, relationships, hair, clothing. Don’t try and push them to fix their lives, but be a friend to them because they need it.
2. Know them and be intentional- If you know what makes them happy, be intentional to search how to make opportunities where you can assist them in doing something that makes them happy.
In those two things, it will push them not to be “happy” but to see joy. It is that Joy where we see Jesus. They will see the joy in their salvation, the joy in Christ and the joy that Christ has offered us.
I pray your perception of me has not changed and that if you know someone who is dealing with something like this that you pray for them pray with them, be present with them and know life is possible.
-SN, I’m fine. The few friends I have are amazing. Most of all, my girlfriend is a blessing from God. On top of all of that, my best friend is amazing you should get to know him. He has hair like lambs wool and eyes like balls of fire and loves me unconditionally, His name is Jesus. He has a book that is kind of long but really simple to read, been on the best sellers list for years! Text me, lets talk about him! He’s awesome!