It’d be so easy to forget, just slide into the warm waters of numbness, a welcome temptation that presents at every turn, but my spirit knows better and doesn’t give me peace. When you struggle with depression, it can feel like it takes too much energy to feel. The temptation is to close off and become impenetrable.
Easy fixes do not apply when you struggle with depression.
Time doesn’t always fix things. Sometimes time just continues, and you are forced to find ways of coping with depression. People turn to all kinds of substances and addictions in effort to numb the pain. And, well, sometimes they work for a little while. Drugs work. Drinking works. Shopping works. Shutting down works.
The problem is … they are temporary at best and destructive always. No one needs anymore preaching against drugs and drinking or gambling or addictions of any kind. We’ve all seen the effects. We choose to ignore what we know in our desperation for relief.
It takes enormous trust to let God keep you soft, open to the ravages of damage done. To trust He can heal, and you can keep going. That depression doesn’t win unless you give in and give up.
It takes every ounce of strength to combat isolation and resist going numb.
I remember an old song from Melissa Manchester called “Don’t Cry Out Loud”. The lyrics:
Don’t cry out loud
Just keep it inside, learn how to hide your feelings
Fly high and proud
And if you should fall, remember you almost had it all
It talks about lost love and broken dreams and a mother’s advice to keep your chin up. Is that a great coping method? I don’t know. I’ve never been great at hiding how I feel. I wear my emotions all over my face. One study conducted by psychologists from Harvard found that suppressing emotions could actually lead to increased mortality rates. I mean, we’ve pretty much heard what that kind of stress can do to a body.
The point is not to keep letting poison do it’s damage to us without making a noise about it. The point is to get healing. And one of the keys to healing is treating the wound with care.
Tips for Emotional Wound Care:
- Don’t cope by numbing the pain. Short term it may give temporary relief, but can cause more damage than help.
- Don’t suppress that pain. Stuffing emotions does not replace negative emotions with positive ones, it merely masks disease.
Numbness doesn’t let the pain in, but it doesn’t let the light in either.
C.S. Lewis said it best, in my opinion. Knowing how he did struggle with depression is encouraging because through all of it he still accomplished a great deal. He continued. Here is what he wrote:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves