“I am not my depression”

Why is it so hard for me to say this? Is it because it’s frightening to admit I have struggles? Is it because I’m afraid people might act differently around me if they knew? Is it because for the longest time I couldn’t even figure out why I felt the emotions in the first place and thus felt almost… unjustified, for my depression? I’d had a great childhood and a family who loved/loves me, but didn’t feel homesick; nothing bad had happened in my life, no one had died; I loved my school and didn’t feel too much pressure to perform. There seemed like no basis for my depression, yet there it remained, permeating every aspect of my life.

Is it hard to say “I am not my depression” because this overwhelming darkness has threatened at times to take me over completely, to become my identity, how I define myself? I don’t want to be “that depressed girl.” Good news is, I don’t have to be. I am not.

There is hope that I can hold on to.

It is in Revelation 21:1-22:21, and more specifically Revelation 21:4, “He [God] will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

All of this suffering? It doesn’t last forever. There will come a time when Christ’s redeeming work on the cross is brought to completion, and all things will be made new. This hope is what carries me through the toughest times and the darkest days. Even if my life journey does feel something like a steep and stony mountain instead of a straight path, it is Christ’s love and promises that keep me inching forward.

So what do I do in the meantime, while I’m waiting and trusting in this hope? Though I cannot even begin to understand why I feel this way, I can lean on the various means of support that God has provided for me. I can rest assured in the words God speaks to me through scripture, in verses like John 16:33, Romans 5:1-5, Isaiah 40:29-31, and many others. I can seek comfort and encouragement from my family and the amazing friends and Christian community I have found here at school. I can and will continue to see a professional counselor. I can do my best to give full effort to my studies and activities, and give myself grace when I need to take a day off to rest and heal. I can and WILL continue to pray for healing, prioritize sleep and nutrition and fitness, serve others, and place my life completely into God’s hands.

Though I am still struggling, I am not lost; though the battle rages, the war has already been won; and though there are days where I feel like progress has stalled, I know that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion. I am not the same person I was when this all began nearly three years ago. I have learned more about myself – my weaknesses, hopes and desires. I have cried out to God, yelled at God, and felt His embrace carry me through when I thought I could not go on any longer. I have become stronger. And I have rediscovered my identity as God’s beloved daughter, my sins paid for by Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross. In these things I have life-giving hope.