Can You Be A Christian and Struggle With Depression?

Odyssey Photo I haven’t posted much on my blog, because well, real life has gotten in the way. But this week, I need to vent out my pain. As a writer, I must first be truthful to myself. This week, I am in one of the lowest places in my life, and I don’t know what to do about it.

This week, depression and anxiety are really kicking my ass. This week I’m struggling with how to deal with these feelings from a Christian perspective.

What do you do when your faith has grown so small that you can’t see your way out of the situation you’re in? What do you do when you’re a Christian, but you struggle with depression and anxiety?

That’s where I am this week, this week, I am struggling, trying to find my way through this maze of emotions I deal with on an everyday basis. Depression and anxiety aren’t something that get talked about much at church. In fact, it’s almost taboo to address issues of mental health. We tend to put a scripture on it or we tell people to ‘bind it up in Jesus name’ and to, ‘speak to your situation’. But what happens when you do that, and you continue to do that but it doesn’t seem to get better? What do you do if you’re going to church and serving and praying and reading your bible daily, and paying your tithes but you’re still stuck in the same situation? Why do people tell  you to ‘keep praying’ or ‘just believe harder’?

If you’re like me and grew up in a Black Baptist Church, depression wasn’t a part of the weekly sermon. In fact, it wasn’t talked about much at all. If I can be even more honest, Black families don’t talk about mental health, period. You learn to suck it up and keep it moving. You don’t have time to cry if you’re Black, you don’t have time to lose your mind because there’s someone out there depending on you. Oh, and don’t be a young person and say ‘I’m struggling’; the first thing an older person will say to you is ‘what are you struggling with?’, ‘You don’t have kids, you don’t have any bills’. But yes older people, we struggle too, believe it or not, a struggle is not just associated with having kids and having to pay bills.

Sometimes I find myself asking, ‘Who can I talk to?’ sure people will say ‘you can talk to me’, But can I really? Can I really pour out what’s in my heart with no judgment, without you trying to heap your problems onto me? Can I come to you in confidence without fear of it getting out or without you wanting something in return? In most cases, the answer is no, especially if you’re that person that everyone looks to for advice. But you should be able to go to your pastor/priest, right? Nope, sometimes even they can’t help. Sometimes, it’s impossible to talk to your pastor because he or she is too busy or you’re constantly hit with ‘You just need to keep praying about it’ Even worse they’ll ask ‘are you paying your tithes?’ or something stupid like that. Because sure, not paying tithes is really the cause of my depression. *side eye*

What do you do when the people you look to for spiritual guidance are nowhere to be found?

Do you keep trying, do you keep praying? The Christian answer is yes because God will see you through it. But how are you supposed to keep going when the waves of depression and fear are like a raging storm, and no matter how much you call Jesus, you can’t seem to see your way out of it? In fact, is there something wrong with you if you’re a Christian and you have anxiety or deal with depression? Where does it come from? Surely as a Christian if you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do, you have no reason to be sad, lonely, or depressed, right? I mean, you serve a great and mighty God who made the heaven and the earth, you wake up every morning with new grace and mercy, Jesus died on the cross for your sins so, why are you sad again? Shouldn’t you just be ‘happy with Jesus alone’? Sure, the idea of just needing Jesus and nothing and no one else is comforting, but real life doesn’t work like that.

You cannot get through life without having someone to lean on, someone to confide in. Unfortunately, in religious communities, you are forced to carry your pain in secret. You must put on your mask of happiness when you walk into the house of worship, and you leave just the same. Sure, healing and deliverance can take place in the church; I don’t deny that one bit. However, the church has become so commercial in its pick up lines for why you should join and the even bigger commercialism that’s being put on tithing and giving an offering. As much as I love Jesus, some days, I can see why people are atheists or agnostic. The concept of a God who judges you to eternal damnation if you don’t abide by a book of rules that are badly misinterpreted by human beings to fit their own personal agenda can be a bit disheartening.

Sometimes, when you’re in a low place, you just wanna stand in the middle of the room and scream out ‘can anybody see me?’ ‘Does anybody see that I’m hurting?’ Sometimes, you just want to see if people really care as much as they say they do.

Depression and Anxiety are like rain clouds; it doesn’t come every day, but you know that rain is always somewhere around the corner. Sometimes, the rain can be a drizzle and then it’s back to sunshiny skies. Other days, the clouds loom for a while, taking away the sunshine and then things are back to normal. The worst days are the days where the rain comes and it brings with it darkness and thunder and lightning and floods.

The days where the rain can’t seem to end and you’re stuck with this stifling feelins are the worst. However, while you may feel like you’re going to be in your storm forever, the rain eventually ceases; the clouds go away. The sun comes back out to shine again and sometimes it will stay for a while. You cherish those days of sunshine and cloudless skies, but you also learn to be more prepared for the rain. But sometimes, though, the rain can hit you unexpectedly, and you’re stuck in the middle of a torrential downpour with no rain gear.

That’s how depression and anxiety work, it’s a constant process of ups and downs, highs and lows, peaks and valleys. This week is my week of low, right now, looking at things in the natural sense, I want to give up and quit. Sure, in the back of my mind I know that things are gonna work out because they always do. However, right now, in this moment, I don’t see it. Sure my parents have been a wonderful support system, pushing me, encouraging me to keep fighting and I will, but it’s just hard today.

The irony in this situation is that despite all of the bullshit I’m facing, I have hope. Isn’t that funny? On most days, I dare not hope or dream for better, because I’ve grown so used to life kicking me in the teeth, but yet I still hope. I often times call myself faithless or seriously lacking in faith, but just sitting here writing this blog I’ve learned, maybe my faith isn’t as small as I think it is…

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