By Joy Moton

I remember coming home from school for the summer. It was a rough semester that ended with a pretty devastating breakup. I went straight to my room and locked myself inside with Netflix shows for the first few days of break.

If I watched anything too happy, it would upset me. If I watched anything too dark, it would discomfort me. I needed something in the middle, something to contribute to the numb feeling I desired to maintain. I chose to binge meaningless shows that had enough of a storyline to hold my interest but not enough to interrupt my mood.

It took a few days and some interactions with my parents for me to realize I was tightly within its grasp. Depression had its scaly limbs constricted around my entire being.

The thing about depression is that it’s deceptive. A large part of you wants to sulk and wallow in it – maybe even bring those around you into it. The other part of you wants to see the light of day again and deeply wishes for it to go away.

There came a day when my dad sat me down and told me the truth. A truth I didn’t want to hear.

“Joy, you’re choosing this. You can fight to get out of it, but no one can help you through this until you decide to want to get out of it.”

Hearing frustration come from the one person who’s probably the most patient with me hurt. But it was what awakened me. I saw that my partially self-inflicted pain was hurting the people who loved me most.

I had to stop. I had to fight this. Not just for myself, but for the loved ones around me.

I wasn’t completely feeling up to it, but I took small steps.

I researched self-help books, I talked to people who loved me and when I started to get that feeling again, I countered it with some intense cardio and lifting in the gym.

Next, I looked deeper into myself. I was forced to answer the question, “Why am I doing this?” I commanded myself to adhere to reason in the midst of everything I was feeling.

Lastly, I faced Him. Him who I dodged every chance I got because I knew He was Light itself. I finally opened myself up to God and that’s where the breakthrough came. Although God cannot force himself on you, there are certain things that just can’t happen in the atmosphere of His presence. Darkness cannot dwell where Light presides.

Friends,

Depression is indeed a monster that should be taken seriously. I believe there comes a time when everyone will eventually encounter it. But just because everyone encounters it doesn’t make it less important to lend our attention to.

I’m certainly no psychologist, but if I had any recommendations for someone dealing with this monster, I can tell you the lessons I’ve learned from fighting it:

Open up.

Even if you’re feeling down, tell someone. Let someone know what’s going on – not so they can intrude – but so they can be aware of where you are mentally.

Don’t believe its lies.

Depression whispers many untrue things into your consciousness about yourself, others and most importantly, God.  

It might say things like:

“I’m helpless and hopeless. Why would God allow this to happen? Why won’t He help me? Why does this even exist? Maybe He actually hates me and wants me to suffer. He doesn’t care.”

When these thoughts began to creep their way into my mind, I had to check myself with Scripture that told me exactly who God was and what His intentions were for my life.

Remember: God is God regardless of how you feel.

Find your reason to fight.

Please know that depression is nothing to be ashamed of or disappointed in yourself for dealing with. I think we live in a society that shames anything regarding mental health and it has to stop. With the political divide, constant mass shootings and police brutality in our country, there is certainly a reason to feel down. However, even in the midst of all this, we must remember that there is always a reason to have hope.

That reason might be your family. It might be your friends. It might even, simply, be you.

You have to dig deep and find your reason to fight. Even if it’s not one of the things I listed above, there is always a reason to fight depression.

If no one else in your life will be a source of encouragement and reason, let me encourage you by telling you that you are worth the fight. Even if depression gets to you for a while, don’t allow it to consume you. It’s okay to fall down as long as you get back up. You can fight this and when you win, celebrate your victory and share your testimony with others. Now that I’ve triumphed, my story of hope is one I’ll never stop sharing.