Friday, July 1, 2011

Pits and Bits: social interaction and depression

The pit of depression steals my voice and makes asking for help nearly impossible.  There, I cannot even imagine what kind of help I might need.  I only know that I need, and it is a tremendous need.

Once as I was just coming out of the pit, I read this from a wife of a depressed husband:

“All I can do is... Pray, share bits of myself with him and wait for God to heal him.”

YES!  I thought.  Yes to prayer, because I cannot do much of that when I am there.  Yes to someone who will wait with me, and remind me what we are waiting for.  Yes to someone willing to share bits of life with me even in my dark place.  Social interaction from the darkness of depression is exhausting and torturous…  but so, so necessary. 

With the memory of the pit fresh in my mind, I wrote the following to my dear husband.  Perhaps it will help those of you who are loving someone in a pit.

When I am depressed...

Please share bits of yourself with me even if I cannot respond appropriately. I do want to talk about something other than how I am doing but for the life of me I just cannot fathom what else that could be!  Please don't let the stench of my ugliness and sadness keep you away.

Tell me what you did today, what you struggle with and what made you laugh. I may envy your laughter, I may be too caught up in me to engage with your problems. This is so unfair... But share yourself with me anyway.

When you do it gives me hope that I will be able to engage in a relationship again... That depression will not destroy myself and everyone around me. It makes me think maybe I won't be able to push you completely away even if I seem like I am trying to. It gives me hope that if I am ever healed there will be someone there who has waited for me and will welcome me back.

Share bits of yourself with me to remind me you are there with an open heart towards me. Your kind treatment of me is nothing like the way I am treating myself.  It nice to have something other than boiling hatred pointed at me. I may be too numb to feel it but I see it. It helps me hope that as you are, perhaps God is also kind and gracious, even though I cannot now feel it.

Share bits of yourself with me to show me your love is stubborn and constant; that it can withstand the attack of depression. Depression attacks and tries to consume me, but through me attacks everyone around me. May God help you withstand. I cannot even help myself.

I am asking too much of you when I ask you to love me through this. I am asking you to pour yourself into a black hole and not know if you will ever see even a drop of life come back to you. I am asking you to forget that our relationship was once reciprocal and easy, and instead carry me on your back while I cry.

It is not fair what I ask of you. It is superhuman grace and mercy that I need. Lean on him who gives that.  Get help for yourself too, and if possible, find others who will share the burden of my sickness with you.

And while you are there, talking with Him and feeling His presence, receiving His gifts and His love, please tell him not to forget me down here.  Remind Him that I am waiting.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
   and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
   my salvation and my God.
Psalm 42:5 


  1. Thanks for this, Emily. Having struggled with depression myself, I find that you expressed much of what I have not been able to do.

    Blessings in Christ

  2. Sorry to hear you understand, but I am encouraged to hear my words may have helped some. Funny, the more I say things like this out loud, the more people I find that completely get it.

    ...though maybe the ones that don't would never tell me- they just look at me funny ;)

    Many blessings in Christ- our refuge and security.


  3. Having gone through some very dark valleys (not just with depression), I have found that I am sensitive when people are hurting. When we talk and I identify with what they are experiencing, their first response is, “How did you know?” I know only too well. It is in our weakness that Christ can use us and He can display His strength and power.

    I have noted elsewhere that there is a missed opportunity for ministry to the forgotten ones, those hurting on the edges of the church, but no one knows it. It is a much broader area of ministry than most people acknowledge. And I have found that the horrible experiences and pain of the past can opens doors to witnessing to those outside the church.

    2 Corinthians 1:3-7 and 12:7-10.

  4. How we long for someone to wait with us! I had a therapist who used to describe it as "keeping vigil". Seems exactly right to me. Thanks for writing this.


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