Food For Thought

I didn’t write the following piece regarding depression, but I can relate to in on many levels. I am sharing it in the hopes that it will open some people’s eyes to the world of depression or maybe help someone realize that they are not alone in their battle. There is always hope. There is always a tomorrow.  Remember, be careful to judge someone for you don’t know what storm they have been asked to walk through.

Depression is humiliating. It turns intelligent, kind people into zombies who can’t wash a dish or change their socks. It affects the ability to think clearly, to feel anything, to ascribe value to your children, your lifelong passions, your relative good fortune. It scoops out your normal healthy ability to cope with bad days and bad news, and replaces it with an unrecognizable sludge that finds no pleasure, no delight, no point in anything outside of bed. You alienate your friends because you can’t comfort yourself socially, you risk your job because you can’t concentrate, you live in moderate squalor because you have no energy to stand up, let alone take out the garbage. You become pathetic and you know it. And you have no capacity to stop the downward plunge. You have no perspective, no emotional reserves, no faith that it will get better. So you feel guilty and ashamed of your inability to deal with life like a regular human, which exasperates the depression and the isolation. If you’ve never been depressed, thank your lucky stars and back off the folks who take a pill so they can make eye contact with the grocery store cashier. No one on earth would choose the nightmare of depression over an average turbulent normal life.
It’s not an incapacity to cope with day to day living in the modern world. It’s an incapacity to function. At all. If you and your loved ones have been spared, every blessing to you. If depression has taken root in you or your loved ones, every blessing to you, too. No one chooses it. No one deserves it. It runs in families; it ruins families. You cannot imagine what it takes to feign normalcy, to show up to work, to make a dentist appointment, to pay bills, to walk your dog, to return library books on time, to keep enough toilet paper on hand, when you are exerting most of your capacity on trying not to kill yourself. Depression is real. Just because you’ve never had it doesn’t make it imaginary. Compassion is also real. And a depressed person may cling desperately to it until they are out of the woods and they may remember your compassion for the rest of their lives as a force greater than their depression. Have a heart. Judge not lest ye be judged.
Author Unknown


Saturday, November 13th was National TWLOHA Day. To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.  TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.

TWLOHA is a group that is reaching out to those who desperately need it. They are educating those who are ignorant. They share stories of people that have risen from the ashes to encourage those that feel like they will never rise again. They provide hope…something that people often don’t have the courage believe in.

I started my battle with depression when I was about 13 years old. Seeing that I am now 32 years old, it has been a long journey. And I am still on it. I don’t think that the journey will ever end and I am ok with that. As long as I stay on the right path, I’ll be ok. Depression is not something that you can just ‘snap out of’. I hate when people say that to me. It actually hurts my feelings that they think I wouldn’t change my situation if it were that simple. It is a process…a long, tedious process….at least it has been for me.

Here is the bottom line. We are all humans with feelings and emotions. We all deserve respect and a chance at life. Sometimes, people screw that up…but don’t you think they deserve a second chance? We deserve to love and be loved…unconditionally. Truly unconditional love…once you experience it, you will never know how you survived without it.

I dare you to go into this world and be brave. Be so brave that you ask for help when you need it. Make and keep true friends without drama and bullshit. Be loyal to them and help them when they are in need. And ask the same of them. Be honest and not afraid to go to battle with them. WITH them, not for them…you can’t fight their fights…but you can stand by them and fight with them. And it’s ok to lose some of those battles…it will only make you stronger. You will win in the end. ‘If you do some losing or you walk with someone else in their defeat, live with dignity and grace. It is a middle finger to the darkness.’
The following is the Vision Statement for TWLOHA. It is amazingly powerful. Take a minute to stop what you are doing and actually read it. Understand it. Live it. Hope…believe…love….you might just save someone’s life. Or maybe even your own.


The vision is that we actually believe these things…

You were created to love and be loved.  You were meant to live life in relationship with other people, to know and be known. You need to know that your story is important and that you’re part of a bigger story.  You need to know that your life matters.

We live in a difficult world, a broken world.  My friend Byron is very smart – he says that life is hard for most people most of the time.  We believe that everyone can relate to pain, that all of us live with questions, and all of us get stuck in moments.  You need to know that you’re not alone in the places you feel stuck. 
We all wake to the human condition.  We wake to mystery and beauty but also to tragedy and loss.  Millions of people live with problems of pain.  Millions of homes are filled with questions – moments and seasons and cycles that come as thieves and aim to stay.  We know that pain is very real.  It is our privilege to suggest that hope is real, and that help is real. 

You need to know that rescue is possible, that freedom is possible, that God is still in the business of redemption.  We’re seeing it happen.  We’re seeing lives change as people get the help they need.  People sitting across from a counselor for the first time.  People stepping into treatment.  In desperate moments, people calling a suicide hotline.  We know that the first step to recovery is the hardest to take.  We want to say here that it’s worth it, that your life is worth fighting for, that it’s possible to change. 

Beyond treatment, we believe that community is essential, that people need other people, that we were never meant to do life alone. 

The vision is that community and hope and help would replace secrets and silence.  

The vision is people putting down guns and blades and bottles. 

The vision is that we can reduce the suicide rate in America and around the world.

The vision is that we would learn what it means to love our friends, and that we would love ourselves enough to get the help we need.

The vision is better endings.  The vision is the restoration of broken families and broken relationships.  The vision is people finding life, finding freedom, finding love.  The vision is graduation, a Super Bowl, a wedding, a child, a sunrise.  The vision is people becoming incredible parents, people breaking cycles, making change.  
The vision is the possibility that your best days are ahead.  

The vision is the possibility that we’re more loved than we’ll ever know.  

The vision is hope, and hope is real.

You are not alone, and this is not the end of your story.