Overpowering darkness. That’s how I once described the endless negativity rattling around in my brain. I knew the thoughts in my head weren’t true, but they were increasingly loud, and I couldn’t escape them, even though I knew Jesus. Depression had me in a vise.
When I walked alone in the depths of the murky abyss, I had four young ones that needed raising which included their homeschool schedules.
I went through the daily motions all the while longing for my closet so I could sit quietly and cry. I loved them, I loved my husband, I loved my life. I loved Jesus. Still do. And they loved me. Still do.
I had no reason in the world to be unhappy, and that in itself made me more sad. An endless battle raged in my head to either hide my sadness, or wrestle with the logic of why I shouldn’t feel these things. My inner being was lying to me and I had to fight these thoughts. Daily. Hourly.
This, my friends, is why depression is so exhausting. Fighting a daily bloody war inside your head all the while keeping the facade in place is debilitating. My brain became a mine field. Lies came fast and furious leaving me hollow and numb.
I don’t understand why it happens, why the brain steps out of sync chemically. I didn’t feel sinful, or sick, just oppressively dark. I had Jesus. I was supposed to have hope. I told myself I DID have hope. I just didn’t FEEL hopeful.
A silent battle raged.
Why are we sometimes driven to have to fight our own thoughts? Paul discusses this in 2 Corinthians. He talks about ‘taking every thought captive’, as an enemy would. Somehow now I understood that verse in a different light. This was, in fact, a battle. I needed to take captives.
I knew on a deeper level this debilitating barrage of darkness was lies, but it was still like standing alone on a firing line when I had no idea why I was being punished, and I was helpless to escape it, let alone fight back.
I knew that in order to win, I must capture every one of those thoughts and call it a lie, and watch it disintegrate. I needed to blow them up. But there were so many, and I felt I was fighting alone, in the desert. Fighting a battle alone, or so it seemed, drove me to cling to the Truth. By my fingernails many days. I needed help.
Then I read another verse one day, my favorite, my life verse, Jeremiah 29:11.
” ‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ “
His plans for me were and will always include a bright future. I KNOW this. I KNOW He is My HOPE. On this day I kept reading.
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
And this one blew me away:
This was what I felt like. I was in exile. In a desert, alone being pounded. Here’s what He taught me though. Exile doesn’t mean ‘without God’. He lives in the desert, just as He lives in the green, fertile valley, on a pristine mountaintop, or at the seashore. He lives in me!! In exile means ‘without other people’.
I was in exile and I was forced to learn what, and who, to trust in the midst of profound dryness. I had to fight and take captive my own being and learn to trust His truth instead.
He was still here. And He knew my plight.
He knew I was fighting my own thoughts. He knew I felt alone.
When debilitating negative thoughts about yourself take over your mind, they DON’T line up with what the Bible says. They are LIES. The TRUTH in the Bible is clear.
The Bible says you are deeply loved, and created perfectly, exactly as you were meant to be (Psalm 139).
God has a perfect plan for your life and future (Jeremiah 29:11).
Jesus came to this earth to redeem you and to give you eternal life with Him (John 3:16).
NOTHING can separate you from His love (Romans 8:38-39).
Recognizing the lies is the first step.
I knew my head wasn’t right and needed some help. I shared. I was vulnerable. It took courage. But I was blown away by how many friends had also dwelled in their own exiles, even though they also loved Jesus.
I was stunned actually by old and new friends who provided spiritual help by listening and sharing their own stories.
They met me in the desert with Living Water and led me to find medical help. My doctor gave me medicinal help, a prescription, which provided my brain with chemical help.
I don’t know why He put me in exile for a time. I learned I can’t trust the voices in my head, only His truth. I learned my feelings don’t always reflect His plans for me.
I learned He was still in the desert with me, just as He was with the Jews when they wandered around all those long years. And, as I recall, some of His biggest miracles happened in the desert. That day I learned of a new, hidden promise, a hope.
I learned that though I may be in exile for a time, He promised He would gather me up and bring me back.
Sometimes periods of desert just happen. Without sin. Without reason.
BUT, His Light can penetrate the darkest dark. Hang on baby, He WILL bring you back.
Twelve years have passed since I got help for my depression. My brain desperately needed the medication prescribed. Just like another malfunctioning organ in my body, it needed correcting.
Mental illness is just that, a treatable illness. Many options are available to help you to feel better.
My friend, if this finds you in the desert right now, please TELL SOMEONE where you are, a friend, spouse, doctor, or pastor. This is the first step toward healing. Most important, Jesus is with you! There is always, ALWAYS hope. You are never alone, despite what your brain may be telling you. Darkness is only temporary.
Suicide Prevention Helpline 1-800-273-8255
We are all broken, that’s how the [L]ight gets in.