There's a really great pastor at my church who is kind and clearly loves serving people. Just about every time he sees me, he asks how I'm doing. "I'm OK," I reply. And I'd say about 75% of the time he follows up with, "Just OK?" If he doesn't say it, the sentiment at least flashes across his face for a moment. I never really know what to do in that moment. Usually "I'm OK" means one of three things for me:
1. I'm having an average, normal day. Nothing especially fantastic has happened, but it's not horrible. It's fine. It's OK.
2. I don't think you want a truthful answer, so I'm just moving the conversation along.
3. I'm feeling really awful and have no idea how to be truthful when it's not the time and place to have a serious discussion.
I don't think people really know what to do when their friends or family members are depressed. I don't even know sometimes. It's not something tangible you can fix. And mental illness can cycle around, so it seems like the same thing over and over again. Sometimes I think my brain is just damaged, that there's nothing that can be done to make my life better, more hopeful, more meaningful.
Depression is not fair. I hate that I find both relief and unspeakable loneliness in isolation. I hate that I struggle to connect with people, to find deep friendships. I hate that asking for help sometimes feels like putting a burden onto people I love, so sometimes I don't ask.
For a majority of the past month, I haven't really felt like myself. Everything just seems like too much. I'm so lonely, but I can't stand to be around people. I spend hours upon hours at home alone, wishing things were different, that I had the energy to be a different, better person. I spend so much time trying to hold myself together that I don't have much room for anything fun. It's not that I'm always miserable, but it's hard work to have fun sometimes. Even as I was writing this I got a text from a friend about Connect Group, but I told her I wasn't going. It's too hard. I feel like a failure when I can't connect with people, when I can't care about other people.
Yesterday I was so jittery it was like I'd been drinking caffeine all day, even though all I'd had was water, but most of the time I am so low in energy it feels like a Herculean task just to get the basics done. Often I use up all my social energy at work and have little or none left at the end of the day. So most nights I go home and watch Netflix or read or even just go to bed because I'm so tired I don't even care.
One of the worst things, the thing that is most unspeakable for me, is how angry I get at God for all of this. I get so angry that I just have to suffer when he could take it away. I get so angry that he is mostly just silent, leaving me feeling unbearably isolated and unwanted. I watch worship at church unable to participate because I just can't, and it makes me feel sad and alienated. I pray and read my Bible most days, but so often it brings little or no comfort. Sometimes I feel a peace that I know isn't coming from me, but mostly I just feel lonely and sad. I watch as friends devote their lives to serving Jesus and sharing him with others while I don't even know what the point is of anything anymore. It's really hard to deal with existential angst when you're supposed to be a Christian. I sometimes fear that all my anger and doubt excludes me from God's love, because who could love someone so broken and fickle? I get really angry at myself for not being able to believe, for being selfish, for being prideful, for knowing that it's probably my fault that God feels far away.
I don't know how to fix any of it. I do my best to get through each day and fulfill my duties at work, at church. Sometimes I text my friends asking for prayer. Sometimes I just lie in bed and cry, my tears a silent prayer for relief. There are days when I feel like myself, when I have fun, when I revel in an ice cream cone and laughing with people I love. I hope I have more of those days, that those days will start to outnumber the bad ones. They will, eventually. My depression cycles always end at some point. That gives me great hope, or at least enough oomph to carry on.