Let’s be real clear about something: Medical depression is a chemical imbalance, it’s a body malfunction that makes it hard to function. The same way a broken thumb makes it hard to hold a mug without a handle. You learn other ways of managing, and you know that some day the thumb will heal. It may not always work perfectly, but it will work. And if it doesn’t, you learn other ways of managing, of holding your mug.
People who suffer from depression are not weak in faith. It’s not a spiritual deficiency. Sometimes holding on to that mug takes all the strength a person has, but at least they’re holding on.
So stop telling them they’re doing it wrong.
If your thumbs are working, if every atom in your body and brain are working at full capacity, congratulations. Your name is Jesus.
Guess what. My name’s not that.
My thumb may be broken, but the rest of me works just fine.
I see a lot of memes about “share this if you know someone who suffers . . .” but we don’t, do we? We don’t “share” because we don’t want to be associated with “that”. We glance, nod, think of someone else, think “there but for the grace of God go I.”
We think, “If only they did this, tried that, went here, skipped there . . .”
We make our own judgment calls of how their life could be, should be, better.
We hide, we’re embarrassed. We think we’re less than perfect because it comes down to “us” and “them”, where “us” are the “normal” people and “them” are the ones who suffer.
We/Us avoid getting too deep with we/them. We/us are uncomfortable, can’t comprehend how this thumb doesn’t work, we/us don’t really want to know how the thumb broke to begin with, we/us offer solutions. The problem is, we/them can’t always pick up your solution. Sometimes, we/them are so used to the broken thumb, that we/them sometimes don’t remember it will heal. We know how to compensate and make do. We don’t always know how we broke it. We sometimes feel it’s always been broken, or we forget it’s broken. We think this is the way it’s always been. But it isn’t. We just don’t always remember “normal”.
We/us can’t understand why we/them just can’t “get it together”. We think they aren’t strong enough, they must want this, or not want God. We think there’s a disconnect between their body and their soul and they don’t want to mend it.
We/them can’t express ourselves. We/them know we ask too much, and we/them put we/us in ridiculous positions where we/us have to say no which perpetuates our/their sense of alienation.
We/them feel combative, defensive . . . and always alone.
We just want to be invited back to the normal table.
Sometimes the problem isn’t we/them. Sometimes a thumb break is the kindest thing that can happen to us/them because it’s at that point that there’s a conscious realization that something’s not right.
Sometimes the best help we/us can give us/them is to not to splint the thumb, but just ask, “Can I hold that mug for you, for a little while? Can I stay here and watch you try, and learn how you cope so I can see more of how you are? Can I be with you, in case you start to drop your mug and I can help? Can I be normal around you and not make you feel less normal? Can I do that for you? Will you let me?”
And we/them will say, “No. It’s awkward. I’m embarrassed. I’m supposed to be strong. I’m supposed to have my own thumb back right away. It shouldn’t take this long to heal. I should know how to do this by now. It’s my thumb that’s broken, not yours. You shouldn’t be here for this. Go away. Go away. Go away!”
That’s when we/them need we/us to say, “Yeah. I’m gonna be your thumb for a while. I’m gonna be your normal.”
That’s when we/them need we/us to stay. No matter what.
That’s when we/them will drop the mug, push we/us away, say things we/them don’t mean, do things we/them shouldn’t do.
That’s when we/them need we/us to stay. NO MATTER WHAT.
And sometimes say nothing.
But just stay.
And when we have our thumbs back, we/them still don’t want you/us to leave. Because it can be really scary to admit we were broken, but that’s when you were there. So it’s also hard to admit while we want our thumbs back, we’re afraid you’re going to leave. Because some people like us when we’re broken. It’s the only time they hear us. So sometimes, we stay a little more broken, a little longer, so we don’t have to be alone.
And then we know. We don’t like being broken. Not really.
We just want to be back at the normal table with our normal people and forget there was a time we weren’t normal.
You don’t understand. And that’s okay.
Our normal isn’t your normal and it may never be.
We don’t want to be unique. We can’t help it.
We’re different. We’re not always broken.
It’s our faith that things will get better that keeps us holding that mug.
Depression isn’t a spiritual deficiency. It’s just a struggle.
Without faith, I wouldn’t be here to tell you these things.
Without faith, I wouldn’t believe it will get better.
Depression isn’t a spiritual deficiency. And it doesn’t define me.
Like a thumb, it’s just a small part of my body.
Some days it’s more useful than others.
It won’t always be broken.
I won’t always be broken.
You won’t always be broken.
Have faith in that.
And Frankly, My Dear . . . that’s all she wrote!