I think depression is a lot like swimming. When you swim underwater you enter a whole new world, a world of changed perspectives and deadened senses, where all your movements are slowed and your eyes start to sting from the chlorine. Except with depression, unlike swimming, you can’t break through the surface. When you kick your legs to get you back to the surface nothing happens. You just keep kicking and kicking, desperately trying to break free of the strange world you find yourself in, but no matter how hard you try you don’t get any closer to the surface. You’re trapped, and your air is running out. Your chest gets tight and you struggle to think straight.
I’ve spent most of the last week in bed, hiding from the world. I’ve been stuck under water, struggling to breathe, because of one thing; worry.
Worry saps your strength and leaves you lying in bed awake for far too many hours than is strictly healthy, thinking over every little decision with no neat solution slowly forming itself from the mess in your head. It just stays as mess. In fact your head is probably messier than you left it.
My depression has rendered me unable to take my exams this year. Which sucks. So now I have to make decisions about my future, which even under the best of circumstances is difficult, but is currently nigh on impossible given I struggle to make it from one day to the next. I have to choose between applying to degrade and having to do all of this again – exams, revising, stress – or applying for DDH (Deemed to have Deserved Honours) and getting a degree without a classification and all that entails for applying for jobs in the future, or risk getting nothing at all and leaving my three years of university with nothing to show for i
So it’s safe to say I’m worrying a little bit, and by ‘a little bit’ I mean worry that encompasses the entire world, worry that throws you in the deep end and holds you under. Depression takes the tiny things and makes them huge, and takes the huge things and makes them unbearable.
I think it’s a common belief that Christians are always okay, that because we’ve been made as ‘new creations’ everything that plagues us will disappear. But even though we believe in an awesome and powerful God, it doesn’t mean we worry less than everyone else, we’re still human. In fact it’s safe to say we worry more than almost anyone else for one simple reason: we worry like everyone else and then we feel guilty about worrying because we feel we shouldn’t be worrying because it shows a lack of faith, and then start to worry about feeling guilty etc etc… And then some helpful friend will come along and say something like: “Why are you worried? God will supply your every need! You just need to trust.”
It’s not that they are wrong, and I definitely do need reminding of that more than most, and I am so grateful to all my friends for that – for being that voice of clarity when I have none. It’s more of a frustration at myself, because although I do know I need to trust, I just want to really know I can trust. So for anyone reading this being “Awks, that’s totally me” please don’t stop! I need poking in the right direction and even if I find it hard to accept now, I will eventually. But more often than not it ends up a bit like this: “Great. More guilt for not trusting enough. And for worrying. And for being a bad Christian. And for not having enough faith. Wonderful.”
“Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith. I don’t agree at all. They are afflictions, not sins.”
― C.S. Lewis
See. Even C.S. Lewis agrees. So I must be right. Worrying isn’t a sin, it’s just something that is part of human nature.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Go check out the rest of the passage, it’ll be good revision procrastination. Jesus says: “Do not worry” three times in the whole passage, but He isn’t saying that worry is wrong. There is no “Or else!” following after. He’s just saying we don’t need to.
If someone gave you a lift and you spent the entire journey in the foetal position saying over and over “Don’t crash, don’t crash, don’t crash, don’t crash” what are they meant to think? That you don’t trust them? It’s not a great vote of confidence in your driver if you are petrified when they are at the wheel.
It’s the same with God. He’s at the wheel. He’s got this. So trust. He’s the lifeguard on the side waiting to throw you the life-ring of strength, hope and love when you can’t swim by yourself. He’s the one who, when all had lost hope and were running scared, rose from the grave, and said to them “Peace.” So that’s what I’m clinging onto. That Jesus brings peace and even though it sometimes feels like you’re drowning, He’ll pull you to the surface before you run out of breath.
Do you worry? Of course you do – you of little faith, and He knows we do. But remember that He is so much bigger than our fears and worries. He has entered into all of our fears and come out the other side, returning to His Father in Heaven – and He takes us with him. Today He says to you: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” We have everything in Him.
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
So don’t worry.