Depression. Hopelessness. Battle Weary. Despair. Many of us have used these terms to relay our feelings. I have been on this road.....a lot.
In light of Robin Williams' death, we have been encouraged to support the depressed. Pretty hard to do if you don't know if someone is in need of help. Personally, I think one of the worst things you can say to a depressed person is "Don't worry - Be Happy!" which empathizes the point that they should not be blue and creates an overwhelming feeling of guilt.
I encourage you to watch David Letterman's tribute to Robin Williams linked here. David shared his relationship with his close friend of many years. As close as they were, Mr. Letterman had absolutely no idea of Robin Williams' pain.
One of the most difficult hurdles I had to overcome when publishing Battered Hope was to realize that the pain I hid for many years would now be exposed. I knew my motives were pure; this story had to be told. For ten years my daughter pushed me to write my story and would not allow me to back out once I started writing it. She knew how it would help many who were struggling without hope.
I believe that all of us have had bouts of depression at different stages of our lives. It is important not to deny the fact that you may be in an awful place and not able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. You also need to be honest enough to admit that it would take a miracle to get out of a difficult or seemingly impossible situation.
Why do we hide our depression?
Why did I choose to hide it from those close to me? The same reasons many of us do -- all the battles, all the years of insurmountable circumstances, all the problems, all the tears, all the struggles. All the times I had to muffle an unutterable scream. All the times I had to wipe the tears that would not fall. All those times took a lot of strength. Hiding pain and hurt and fear is difficult. But it is done out of love.
We do it so that we do not cause worry to those we love. We do it out of fear that we, who appear so strong, may actually appear weak. We do it because we do not want pity - we just want change. We do it because we believe people won't like us if we expose our fears, our hurts. We look for and hope for change. When it does not come, we hide that disappointment. Many of us hide it with laughter. I have kept my marriage together for forty plus years because I have made my husband laugh, through the pain, through the trauma, through the hopelessness. Making someone laugh is contagious.
But....we need to face reality
But it is in those alone moments that we realize the reality of our circumstances and that we have to battle them alone. Or do we? There is not one doubt in my mind that I never would have made it without my faith in God. He gave me the inner strength, the stamina, the tenacity to push through the problems and strive toward the mark of victory. This happened not once but countless times over the years; and each time, I was victorious. Each time I was a bit stronger.
For the first time in my life, I realized something this morning in my quiet time. I realized that I am always keenly aware of what the circumstances are and even if I fret and worry about them, I choose not to dwell on my demise. I may not be happy at the moment. I may use all my energy to suppress the pain so that I can encourage and motivate those close to me, to help them laugh and be happy.
The Bottom Line
But the KEY... the secret that has always gotten me through is this: It is NOT where I live. It is NOT what I focus on. The focus of my thoughts, my plans, my hope is seeing a positive outcome. No matter how rough the situation is I think about how wonderful it will be when there is a positive outcome. I see myself there -- in THAT place.
This is essential to understand and grasp. Don't mask your pain by pretending it does not exist. It is very real. Be honest with yourself but focus on what you hope to happen. Believe that it can happen. Trust that it will happen. Trust God that He will give you the strength to get through it. Visualize yourself as a victor, instead of a victim.
Have you had a similar experience? Have you been able to overcome circumstances by changing your focus?