Does my Battle with Depression Qualify Me as Weak?


Please forgive the nature of this post. I’m genuinely trying to shy away from rants but I need some encouragement from my friends….

I began Confessions almost two years ago with the hope and desire to instill and inspire hope. It seems, though, that all I have done is create a perspective of me that one may call “weak.”

I’m finding that the more open I become about my struggles with depression and anxiety, the more I open myself to deeper pain. Rejection is only a moment away when discussing previous experiences. Apparently, there are those who think that depression and anxiety represent some kind of inherent, chronic weakness. I’m beginning to feel as if wearing a mask would do me a world of good.

Let’s just say that I’m sick and tired of putting my heart on the line only to hear in return “Well, your issues with depression and anxiety are a concern.”

Within the last year, I’ve been told, directly or indirectly, that my struggles need to be hidden.

“You shouldn’t talk about these things so openly.”

“It’s causing other people to worry and I just don’t want you to get a bad reputation.”

“We’re just not comfortable with someone who might kill himself.”

“Because of your anxiety and depression, you need someone who can always be pouring into you and I just can’t be that for you.”

Those are a few of the things that have taken up residency inside of my head these last few months. These are a few of the things that I’ve heard from individuals who are relatively close to me. My question is simply this:

What if they’re right?

Is it that I’m genuinely weak and always need someone to babysit me to make sure I’m “feeling” ok? Have I really given off that kind of an impression? Or maybe it’s not that you can’t “be that for me” but rather you’re just not willing to give at all?

I’m so tempted to believe that I haven’t created this atmosphere around me. I truly want to believe that this is just a general stigma that anyone too uninformed of such topics will randomly spew just to get out of the conversation.

Unfortunately, I’m struggling to believe that.

My friends, I’m genuinely at a loss in my brain right now. The words are there but I can’t put them together.

Should I have to live in fear that anytime I go on a date and mention depression I might get left?

Should I have to wear a mask as if to not make someone uncomfortable?

Should I silence my voice in order to better fit into societies expectations? The church’s expectations?

I’m not being dramatic here. I can’t handle this.

Does that make me weak? Does that warrant me needing someone to come along side of me and nurture me? Am I seriously of lesser value to you because I’ve seen the only version of hell I’ll ever see and by God’s grace lived to tell about it?

I tell my story and I’m honest with others because I want them to know that there’s strength to be found. I try to come from a place of wondering. I don’t have all of the answers. Why are you pretending that you do? Why cast me off or attribute lesser value to me because I portray myself as someone struggling?

Aren’t we all struggling?

Aren’t we all searching for the light of God and for answers in this crazy world?

I mean, if you have all of the answers then please, share them. If you’ve stared demons in the face and been able to walk away from it without scars I suppose you must be like God?

I’ve spent the last few years fighting inside of my heart. I’ve been battling my inner voices telling me that I’m weak, worthless and that I’ll never amount to anything. Go figure that as soon as I start making progress, the voices begin coming from external sources.

Are they right?

Should I pretend that I have everything figured out so that maybe someone will see me as worthy?

Should I not mention my depression and anxiety anymore so that I might be able to be perceived as strong?

Maybe if I wasn’t honest anymore I could actually be “successful” in the world’s eyes.

I thought that people in this world wanted someone to be honest? I thought we were tired of the disingenuous culture that we live in?

Oh, right. I forgot that we only like honesty when it makes us feel good inside.

Forgive me for being an inconvenience. Forgive me for trying to spread hope.

I’m not weak and I don’t care if you think otherwise. It’s not up to you to decide what I am or who I’m not. Your loss. Christ says I’m valuable and you know something?

His opinion is the only one that matters.

31 Replies to “Does my Battle with Depression Qualify Me as Weak?”

  1. My thoughts are that if someone thinks you aren’t worth “investing” in as a person because of your mental health struggles, they aren’t worth being in YOUR life. That’s harder when it comes to family, because you can’t just cut those ties in the same way, but at a point if they aren’t trying to understand and support you, then pulling back some may be best, because it’s not you, it’s them. It really comes down to WWJD, which may be cliche and corny as heck, but if they aren’t even TRYING to follow his example of love and compassion, then know they are in the wrong.

    And I get that supporting a loved one suffering from depression can be difficult. Both as a sufferer in the past and as a friend to someone who suffers from very severe depression, I know it’s not easy at times, and you can feel downright helpless in others. But isn’t that part of any true friendship? There will tough times and good times. If someone isn’t true enough to be there, be supportive, and be compassionate in the bad times, they don’t deserve the good times.

    It can be easy to pin it on yourself, but I don’t want you to fall in that trap. You don’t deserve any less from a friend or loved one than you’d give yourself. ❤️

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    1. I certainly agree with everything you said. I’ll explain better in the email but everything is ok now. In all regards, I have to learn how to better handle these kinds of situations without flying off of the handle. In some of the things I did, I caused some pain so I was at fault here too.

      I can’t expect everyone, or anyone for that matter, to understand or respect where I come from and how I go about trying to help other people. I just have to learn how to do so compassionately and with grace. 🙂

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  2. It’s ok to be broken! In my own experience I struggled for answers but I never found them I even prayed for my death so wouldn’t suffer anymore. I tried to explain what was going to my aquanintances but they couldnt understand me. It is only by the Grace of God that I am still alive. Thanks for this post, Much Love for you Matty!

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    1. Hey John!

      Indeed! If we truly look to the inner recesses of our core, we find that our deep sinfulness not only breaks us but causes spiritual death. It is only by God’s grace that we “have been made alive with Christ.” If you ever need someone to understand and listen, I’ll be here. 🙂

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  3. I dislike the notion of hiding what is actually going on with mental illness. But, there are times when we all do it. However, to have someone tell you that you should hide your struggles points to a person who doesn’t want to know the truth. In some cases you have to distance yourself from those telling you to hide. You know who those people are, because the knife plunges just a little deeper.

    I’m sorry you’re going through this Matt…I’m sorry anybody is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hate it too, my friend. Honestly. This situation is entirely stupid but it reveals a part of the person that I couldn’t see before. It tells me a lot about who they are. Ultimately though, I have to forgive them, apologize if I need to, and then move on. Regardless, distance is coming. I hate it because it was a close friend but oh well.
      It’s all good, my friend. It shouldn’t surprise me but it does hurt. Thank you for your faithful friendship. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Matthew,
    Depression is something that snuck up on me. I was depressed and anxious for several years before I found out what was going on. How I dealt with depression was to get medication. This helped me a lot. I got some relief from the symptoms. My mind became more peaceful. Getting out of an abusive relationship with my former husband helped me also. Ten years later I still take medication but my dose is reduced to half of what it was at the peak. I think what I experience as depression is different from the depression that you describe. Mine is more situational perhaps, (although there was mental illness in my immediate family), whereas my understanding is that you deal with depression that’s more genetic in nature.

    Is depression a weakness? I think the answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Depression can be debilitating. If you can function reasonably well with depression then I think that it should not define you. You mentioned that you had worked hard for over a week putting in lots of extra hours at work. I would say that this shows good capacity. What difference does it make if you have a medical diagnosis or not? If someone wants to make an issue of it then they might be looking at discrimination if they are hiring as an employer, etc. Depression does not change your moral integrity, your godliness, your righteousness, your skill level. You stated that you were a student awhile back attending a Bible College. What does that tell us? That you’re as capable as anyone else that does this.

    If someone wants to say that you have a handicap, what about the thousands of people addicted to Drugs? Alcohol? Pornography? Prescription Medication? Abusers? Psychopathy? Bullies? Thieves? White Collar Criminals? Liars? etc. The fact of the matter is that nearly the whole population of the world could say that they are ‘weak’.

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    1. Good morning Linda!

      You make a great point and your words are very encouraging. I’ve been prescribed anxiety medication but I opted not to fulfill it due to personal reasons. I definitely know that there are those who absolutely need it but I have had bad experiences in the past with them.

      You’re right when you say that everyone has a weakness. I know that I am fundamentally weak because of my sinful disposition before Christ. However, because of what Christ did for me on the cross I now have his strength. Therefore, I am not weak but made strong by the grace of God. It’s not me who musters the ability to be who I am but it is God in me. I suppose my biggest issue is with those who imply I am of lesser value because of this illness. They assume that I currently struggle and that is not so. Are there days where I slip? Yes. Everyday, though? No. I’m writing from a place of strength but unfortunately, they don’t see that because when they hear the word “depression” their mind automatically thinks “he’s struggling.”

      It’s really the culture we live in that has me riled up so much as opposed to a singular entity. I’ve been dealing with these kinds of remarks for a while now. As much as I hate to think this, maybe one day I’ll just get used to it.

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  5. I am going to be as blunt as I can be. The people that say unsupportive stuff, bar a few well meaning, but unhelpful advisors, you should distance yourself from. Everyone, including yourself struggles to say the right thing at some point, but real friends would not insult you, drop you, or term you as weak. It can be difficult to know what to say when someone is ill, no matter what type of illness it is. Ask yourself would you say that to someone with another serious illness ? No. So then it is not acceptable to say it to someone suffering from depression. Support comes in many forms, but most of all its when they are there for you no matter what. You don’t always need words, right ? A cuddle, company – watching a film, a gift of support, daily phonecalls can mean the world. Losing friends but gaining the right ones will also do you the world of good. See it as a good way to find out who the real ones are, I certainly did 🙂 It took time, at one point there wasn’t anyone, but slowly through choosing carefully, I am starting to find really brilliant people with no ulterior apart from being there as company – If you can stop by and read my latest blog then that would be really appreciated x
    http://goo.gl/9ctxa2 with warmth and wishes 🐇🐇@UDtherabbithole xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Honestly, you’re right. Absolutely right. While this may be difficult it certainly is a way that opens my eyes to who is trustworthy and who isn’t. True friends are exactly as you said it: There for you no matter what with no complaints or excuses. I greatly appreciate your honesty and encouragement. I’ll definitely check out your blog. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. There is nothing weak about expressing your feelings, as long as they aren’t hurtful towards someone else. Talking is a way of healing. I wrote a post titled A Face Kept In A Jar By The Door, borrowing the title from a Beatles song from long ago. I am posting it again today, with minor updates. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. So I’m not sure you wanted actual answers, but I feel like sometimes just hearing something that you know, repeated by someone else is more helpful than just saying it to yourself. And if you don’t know what I am about to tell you, then perhaps it’s not such a bad thing that my nosy streak has won out.
    Here goes.
    I could give you the formulaic “depression isn’t weakness” schpeal and although it would be correct, it wouldn’t make a difference. I could similarly tell you the rehearsed “their opinions don’t matter” speech with equal effect. So I’m going to skip those and get right to the heart of the matter.
    You’ll get rejected. And it will sting and it will cause you great pain. You may even reach a point where you don’t know if “it” (whatever “it” is) is worth it anymore. That may lead you to re-configuring your whole life-right down to the core of who you thought you were.
    You’ll give in. You’ll let depression take the wheel for a while and just coast. Not because you want to be like that, but because you need a break from fighting so damn much. And you’ll feel like you’re drowning each and every time you fake a smile, don a mask or even just reply “I’m fine. You?” too many times. And you’ll start to notice cracks.
    You’ll get angry. Angry at people for not noticing that you’re struggling (but not wanting to admit to your struggles). You’ll get angry that they’re probably faking it too and seemingly so much better than you are. It’ll eat away at you until you hurt so much on the inside that you start to compulsively dream about running away, escaping everything-including yourself.
    And it is only when you reach that bottom point, the moment you can no longer keep pretending, that true life begins.
    You’ll invest time into finding your happiness. You’ll promise yourself that this time you’ll get it right. You’ll take risks, make decisions you wouldn’t have allowed into your routines before. You’ll work out (or not). You’ll eat healthier (or not). And you’ll either find what makes you happy or you’ll pinpoint what didn’t. And both of those things are equally important.
    So why am I talking about all the things that “will” happen?
    Because being depressed isn’t some curse that happens to bad people. It isn’t the “secret trial” that good people have to overcome. It’s what happens when you have conflict in your heart and in your brain. (And you know, a chemical imbalance.) It’s what becomes of people who can’t reconcile what they believe they “should” be doing with what would make them fulfilled. That could be anything from “going to school because you’re smart” to “getting job X so your parents will be proud” to “ignoring your symptoms so you’ll fit in”. Eventually you’ll start to notice that even if you choose the wrong thing for the right reasons, happiness isn’t there. And when that’s the case, something has to change. Being depressed isn’t some weakness, some defect in your character. It’s what happens when you let all the outside voices, all the nay-sayers overpower your inside voice, the real you you’d be if you weren’t afraid of the outside judgment.
    I know this was kinda long, but as a serial depressive (and as someone who has been told that I “overshare” my symptoms and stories just because they get people talking), I know it’s hard to listen to the “be inspired” messages and actually believe them. I hope this helped. (And if it didn’t, at least you read today-which is a gift many people would love to have.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m genuinely at a loss for words (in a good way). I can pinpoint a specific time where I experienced every one of those stages you described. It wasn’t a fun place to be and I wish(ed) that I would never have to go through it again. Honestly, some days I do feel like giving in. Let it all go and just pretend. It seems that this route would be easier on the people around me, at least. Maybe they would treat me like a normal human? Maybe I could stop worrying so much.

      I’m trying to put into words my appreciation for you taking the time to write all of that. It’s helped more than most pieces of advice I’ve gotten in recent memory. I suppose the only thing that will suffice is to simply say thank you. I mean that with all of my heart.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In the end, there is an army of people experiencing things like depression. We’re all fighting our own darkness. But the thing is, we also understand that being true to ourselves is a difficult and sometimes nasty business. Don’t settle for the people who want to drown you out-even if they think they’re coming from a well-intended place. I’m glad my words resonated and at least let you know that in suffering, you aren’t alone. You’re welcome. And may brighter days be ahead.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. P.S. I hope you have a therapist to speak with. I do. I need the continuity of care. Autism, much like any mental illness, is ongoing. Challenges arise & you need a 3rd party to help you sort out things. Discussing blogging pros/cons is something you could do with a therapist.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I think you need to take a break and pray. Never wear a mask, making yourself more uncomfortable in order to make some insecure person more at ease. It is noble of you to help be a voice for those who struggle. It can also be super draining. Words do matter, and there are terrible people Satan uses to tear us down with their words. I pray that God will lead you in the direction He wants you to take. Remember that you are a part of Broken Light Photography Collective and can have them backing your photos on their site. They screen the garbage for you. It takes a lot of energy to give love to someone with any illness. I’m the one who has autism, and as drained as I become, I become even more drained imagining what it must be like for family. There are people who God has anointed to be rocks and build us up. I hope you will pray for me as I am going through a hard time as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My friend, I will most definitely be praying for you! Thank you for the words of encouragement as they help bring life to my heart. 🙂

      I honestly need to send a few more submissions to Broken Light. I may do that today!

      I am definitely grateful to my family and loved ones for supporting me in this. I can’t imagine how it can be some days knowing that their son/brother/friend deals with all of these different kinds of things.

      Remember in your struggle that though God may not take you out of it, He will get you through it. He loves you and is working all things for your good!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. When Jesus took the penalty for your sins, He thought you were worthy. That is what matters; Him!
    What other people think and say… yes, it will get to you as it clearly has. But what does the Lord say about you friend?
    How does God see you?
    “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. That’s how He sees you. You are a child of God, dearly loved and always will be. Perhaps He is using depression and anxiety to draw you closer to Him. Asking you to get to know Him even better.
    I have a 9 year old daughter with anxiety and depression and it’s difficult to watch. Humans can’t go the distance, but Jesus both can and will. Praying for you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So very true! Honestly, the truths you just expressed are the very ones I’ve been trying to pound into my head for years. I fully believe it all. I love that Christ loves us. I love that God sees me for who I am yet chooses to love me anyway. It’s that truth that I so oft, though, forget to mention to myself day by day. Ironically enough, on the days I’m mentally weakest are when the external voices pipe up.

      Thank you for stopping by and taking time to encourage my heart. It means an incredible deal. I’m sorry that your daughter is dealing with these things. She will be in my prayers as well!

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  11. I know your struggle and it’s true. It’s dangerous to share the truth about mental illness with people because most people are uninformed. Everyone says finding supportive friends helps, but depression makes it almost impossible to find ANY friends, nevermind “supportive” ones. It’s like everything with depression, at least for me, I just hang on and try to enjoy the good days and ride out the bad. I think the internet is a great place for you to express yourself without a mask, and you are not weak. A human being LIVING with chronic depression is probably one of the strongest people in the world and speaking honestly and openly about your struggles is BRAVE. Jesus Christ is most well known to the broken, we are grateful for the unconditional love and the daily healing that only He can provide. If depression brings you closer to Him, like Paul, you can truly rejoice in all things. That is a real gift! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, you have impacted and made this reader feel less alone.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That was indeed a great encouragement to read. It’s so hard to drown out the vocal minority. The few that actually express their “concern” from a distance only make me wonder what those who don’t say anything think. It’s a hard line to stay to one side of. I know who I am in Christ and I don’t need anyone’s acceptance. Hearing, though, that my being human in this way is a detriment really bothers me. Thank you for being a good friend. I needed it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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