Friday, March 16, 2012

Reflections of a Cafe Experience

This evening I went with my roommate to a local coffee shop to get some homework done. I got very little work done, but that's not what this is about. There were only a few other people in the shop, and after settling in and enjoying a few sips of my caramel macchiato, I couldn't help but overhear two women's conversation who were sitting next to me. I really couldn't help it because they had no discretion for volume, language or content. From what I could gather, they knew each other well, but it seemed like they hadn't seen each other for some time. They discussed jobs, boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, family, and eventually began to talk about their struggles with mental illnesses.
I was shocked and slightly discouraged at their viewpoints, which were clearly from a non-Christian, and terribly hopeless sense. One thing that they said is they remembered growing up with their individual disorders and how utterly alone they felt, which I completely understand. Their families didn't know about their struggles and at the time it was polite to remain silent. Another point that saddened me was one said "Depression is a lot more common and seems to be catching on" as if it were a new trend. It saddened me because I know how true it is. Depression seems to be on the rise, and is emerging in people younger than ever before in history. It could be that society has become more open about the issue of depression and suicide, which is good, but I feel can be very dangerous in causing its appearance to be chic and modern. Please hear me when I say that depression or thoughts of suicide are not something to be ignored, covered up, or overlooked. Because it is more acceptable in society to admit a struggle with depression, help is more readily available and experts are more educated on how to help in these situations. I urge you to seek help if you are feeling hopeless, worn out, or have any thoughts of suicide. I promise you that you are worth it. The battle won't be easy, but it is worth the fight to live.
I have been back in my dorm for over an hour, and their conversation has stuck with me and I felt the need to unravel some of my thoughts. Like I said, it saddened me to hear them speaking from such a hopeless perspective. I have battled with depression and anxiety for 11 years and yet I am overjoyed with the knowledge that I have the tools and support to overcome it on a daily basis. The journey I've been on has included late night phone calls to friends just to stop the harmful thoughts or actions, years of being on and off (currently off) of medication, countless friends and family praying for me and encouraging me, months of counsel from professionals and pastors, and opportunities to share my story with others who I may not even realize are going through the same thing. Through all the years I have become very open and unashamed of my sad (pun totally intended) little brain that can't quite decide which chemicals to produce. For me, it is worth the risk of being judged by an individual in order that they might grasp even a grain or a whole truckload of the hope and joy that I have found.
It is true and undeniable that my hope is wrapped intricately in my faith and the love of my savior and redeemer, Jesus Christ. I am so confident in this that I have those three words, Faith, Hope and Love, tattooed on my wrists (Faith and Hope as an ambigram) which provides a good opportunity to share with those curious enough to ask about my ink. Most times it is brushed off as a reference to 1 Corinthians 13:13, and often I'm happy to leave it at that because that's usually as far as the level of interest goes. As I said, I am open to deeper questions about the meaning behind the words and always know I have the choice to share as much or as little as I am comfortable with. See, the counseling worked in making me assertive and confident!
To wrap this all up, there is hope. Please don't be afraid or ashamed to seek help. You are not alone. You are not broken or defective and there are options and ways to live with and overcome daily the darkness of depression. I still have bad days or sometimes weeks, but each day I get through is a victory in my eyes. I can now see and know that I am stronger than depression, and even when I am at my weakest, I have confidence in knowing that Jesus is stronger and has overcome every disease.