by Bethany Weaver
It was Christmas Eve, and I was in the thick of depression. I sat alone in my house, depressed that I wasn’t able to see my family and contemplating numbing my mind and spirit with hours of Netflix.
“How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world!” the lines from “Hamlet” clamored through my mind the way they always do when I’m struggling to navigate what I call my “gray days.” I memorized that monologue years ago, and the words have since become written on the core of my being.
Mild depression has been my companion for years. At times, it feels like a weight around my neck, rendering me incapable of movement. Other times, it moves to the background and seems to be a wisp of a thought.
But it is always there, always present. And I have always despised it. My depression, mild as it is, makes every action exponentially harder. It’s like walking through a shallow pool of water: I can get to the other side, but it will take a longer amount of time and a greater effort than most people.
That’s where I was on Christmas Eve. I was gazing at the other side of the pool and wondering how on earth to get there. I knew I had to do something — anything, really.
So I mustered the strength to attend a late Christmas Eve service at a local United Methodist church. The moment I walked through the doors, I felt as if the fog were rolling off me.
As contemplative space, the church’s architecture and a cello’s strains engulfed my senses, I sat in sheer wonder at the beauty and joy life offered, although a mere half-hour ago I had been in despair.
Later that night, I wept as I wrote in my journal my recollections of the evening. Somewhere deep, deep within me, the truth had clicked: Without my depression, my experiences of joy and wonder would be diminished.
See, depression feels so utterly gray and empty because the joys and delights of life I experience are so acute and intense. It’s a sliding scale, and I cannot have the intense (and frequent) delights without the equally intense (and frequent) lows. If it were not for my depression, I would not cry with joy when I see a beautiful sunset. If it were not for my depression, I would not find such serious and true wonder in watching a sparrow hop about to find food. If it were not for my depression, I would not write or create to capture all of that my spirit delights in. In fact, if it were not for my depression, I am convinced I would feel everything — every single emotion — less than I do now.
It’s a curious thing that, when flipped, depression often becomes an acute ability to appreciate and love the beautiful things of this world.
So I have decided to no longer hate my depression. I will not isolate it, repress it, yell at it or tell myself there is something terribly wrong with me. I will no longer berate myself for how I feel or for the amount of gray days I experience. Instead, I will accept this as part of who I am. I am my depression, and it is me. No part of me can exist fully outside of it.
I will be quick to seek help if and when my depression overwhelms me. I will be unafraid of medication to balance me out, if and when that is needed. I will at times go to counseling. And I will be quick to respond to the guidance of godly people in my life.
This I will do because depression, though a part of me, should not go unchecked. But I will no longer despise it. Because in doing so, I inevitably end up despising myself. And I have hated myself for far too long.
The thing is, the God of the universe made me just as I am, with all of my penchantsand proclivities.
So I think it’s time I look at the full picture of depression. I think it’s more than time for me to accept it.
I will now present my depression to my God the same way I do my personality, in prayerful surrender, saying, “This is me. But you, and not my depression, are the Lord of my life. Do with it what you will.”
I am me. God is God (and a big God, at that).
I will choose to love and accept all of the self he created me to be.
And that, dear friends, is why I don’t hate my depression.
Bethany Weaver is a copy editor, blogger and all-around lover of words based in Charlotte, North Carolina.