I arrived in Rochester later that night. Most of that trip is still a blur in my mind. However, I was in for a delightful treat. Immediately upon my arrival in Rochester I obtained a job as a para professional (A teaching assistant) and classroom float for a kindergarten class. Miraculously, my smoking car continued to hold up, even after driving it from Delaware to New York in under seven hours. To top it all off, the next morning my soul felt very much the complete opposite of the previous day of terror, so much so, that I couldn’t help but give God praise for it, “Though sorrow may last for a night, joy comes in the morning.” Sadly, my depression still lurked after this day of joy. Oh, the loneliness of depression. Oh, the pitch-black hopelessness of it. I tried holding on to these moments of bliss, knowing that they could be snatched away at any moment. Knowing that these moments were becoming far more infrequent was also killing me on every level. I felt deceived by God. I felt He was toying with me. What a cruel game for the Master to play on His servant and the Father to play with his child, if I was that. When it came to these moments of joy, C.S. Lewis said it best in his book, A Greif Observed:
Step by step we were ‘led up the garden path.’ Time after time, when He seemed most gracious He was really preparing the next torture.”
I can’t imagine what hell will be like for the unregenerate; to the one who doesn’t embrace Christ as Savior. It will not be a fun party with other non-believers. It may not even be suffering together with non-believers. Hell could possibly be an eternity spent by yourself in your own gloominess, weeping and gnashing your teeth at Jesus for all of eternity. Think about that. There is already something like this on earth. In prison, they call it solitary conﬁnement. I felt this sense of hell, even with people around me, who I felt feelings of love toward, and who I knew deep down inside loved me. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have absolute love removed from me forever. But that’s what it felt like. This may not be too far removed from what an aspect of hell is really like. If you have been depressed, you have probably tasted an inﬁnitely small piece of what Hell will really will be like.
While back in Rochester, I would often reﬂect back on my friend whom I lived with in Delaware. Remembering, how at one point he had went through a brief period of depression with me. By this time, he was no longer depressed though. There was a time before he and his family moved to Delaware that he battled a bout of depression quite similar to mine, but it seemed to have resolved on its own with no medical treatment. The depression I was experiencing was largely aiding in the bitterness I was starting to feel toward him for coming out on the others side, while I was still trapped. As if my friend and brother had anything to do with my suffering, the depression said otherwise. I was overlooking all the great things my friend and Christian brother had done for me during these dark times, just as I had been doing with God. So, when I moved back to Rochester, I wrote him an email:
What up brother,
How has it been? My struggles seem to get worse, lift for a moment, then get worse again. Sometimes I feel bitter at the Lord because of my circumstances and I must admit I feel the same way toward you sometimes. The reason being, that you are enjoying the liberation that God has so mercifully granted you, while I wait and wonder about myself. I often think, if you knew the pain of the situation, that you would be more of a help to my soul. I apologize for the way I feel though bro and I often question my faith in the Lord (sort of like what you use to do). So, it is a terrible situation to be in when you feel no one cares anymore. I am hoping in the long run that God will bring me out bro and we can enjoy those good times again friend. I can’t even shed a tear man. Pat said he was visiting next Saturday and I wasn’t even excited. Am I loving to the brothers or what? I hope this is not self-pity but a brother is sharing his heart for love in return. Peace Bro
P.S. Thanks for sending my mail. How about them Buffalo Bills?
As stated previously, these were mostly days of pure darkness, but I recall one of the few moments that light broke through, and when it did, it was exceptionally powerful. I got into a habit of running on the treadmill. I would do anything to rid myself of this darkness. I would change my diet, take milk baths, do yoga, take Saint John’s Wart, whatever it took. One day, in the midst of all these efforts, I headed down to the basement, and as I reached the bottom of the stairs I felt an indescribable peace that made me fall to my knees in tears and thankfulness that the Lord had suddenly broken the darkness in just a moment in time. The darkness would, however, return again later that day.
At one point someone suggested I visit a Christian counselor. I was open to doing almost anything. I visited this man, who I highly respect very much to this day. He gave me much helpful insight into my depression, he loved Jesus deeply, and was a student of the bible. He was very encouraging and every time I met with him; I felt my soul being ministered to. He would always encourage me to sing to the Lord and said things like, “If you truly were a reprobate, why did you care so much about being one?” He echoed the words that was previously spoken to me by a woman who was walking away from the faith a year before. This woman said “You must be one of the elect, otherwise you wouldn’t care so much.” The only problem I had with my counseling brother’s counsel was he seemed to strongly be opposed to any treatment that included medication; which is the same impression I got from most Christians when this topic of treatment came up. Most of them seemed to be saying that I should read scripture, stay in fellowship, pray, repent, and sing to the Lord. None of these means of grace put any dents in the darkness I felt. In fact, I grew angry that other Christians seemed to be enjoying the Lord and not me. I became even more frustrated because I couldn’t pinpoint a blatant sin that I was committing and of which I was not repenting of. I just couldn’t understand why a loving being like Jesus would have me suffer so much and providing fewer and fewer intervals of relief for me. Why would He surround me with so many people who didn’t seem to fully understand my plight?
Months after these appointments, I recall the morning where I clearly wanted to die the most. I had reached the end. This was the day, had I not got help, would have resulted in the path of me planning to kill myself. Before depression, I used to gain great joy from working with children. I had worked with them most of my life up to this point. In this state, the job was excruciatingly mundane as the thoughts of God not loving me kept coming, the worse yet. Now, there was no measure of gratitude in my journal that could curb this darkness. No smile or laughter of children could make me the slightest bit happy. No pain of a child could draw any empathy from me. The light was completely gone. It had mostly been almost gone, now it was completely gone. I felt death in my heart as I poured my morning coffee. I didn’t know how I planned on killing myself, but I was tired of ﬁghting. It’s not that I desired suicide with a sick type of joy. I simply wanted to escape the hell of the existence I was living in. It did not concern me how anyone felt about me anymore. It was all about me and how to end this pain that no one seemed to be able to ﬁx. In essence, it seemed like I failed myself and everyone else failed me too, including God. I didn’t even care about Hell on the other side. I just wanted to die. The thought of loathing the sight of child was enough to know I was coming to the end of my life, at least, it felt that way. I was in the kitchen that morning, getting ready to go into work, and my sister must have seen death in my face, which reflected perfectly, what was in my heart. I recall her saying, “Carl. It’s time that you get help.” I had fought taking medications for too long. It was now time. I was holding out hope that maybe medications would help. If the medications didn’t help, I thought I would end up being back at this suicidal moment in short order. It was then that I made an appointment to see a psychiatrist, and shortly after, was being prescribed two medications to help with mood and sleep.
I hope you enjoyed this 4-part series on my experience with depression. I hope more than anything it encourages people with depression to know that they are not alone in this struggle. I hope it encourages people with depression to share their struggles and be vulnerable and open with the people that love them. If you have depression and are finding that natural means are not helping depression, please consider talking with a counselor, a doctor, and exploring the potential of trying medications, even if it’s just to get your head above water. My purpose in writing these blog entries were to give people who have never experienced depression an up-close look at what it is like. Hopefully, these same people can be more empathetic toward those, and advocate for those, who have depression. Thank you for reading and may the Lord be with you.