Yesterday, a friend texted me and ask ‘why are so many teenagers so depressed and thus, they feel like death is the only answer.’ I’m not sure if he knew the young woman who committed suicide this week, but he has a daughter that is the same age, 19, so it’s possible. Another family I know, they knew her. She was someone they loved, adored, treated like she was one of their own. I’m guessing they had watched her go from an awkward teenager girl into a beautiful young woman. A lady full of promise and hope. Hope that disappeared in a flash, and now those who are left behind struggle with questions — too many questions — and heartbreak, anger, sadness, and ironically, depression.
Almost 11 years ago, I was in their shoes. My high school boyfriend, my first real love, my first real heartbreak, the man I reconnected with as an adult both as a single woman and later as a single mom, committed suicide. He was 29.
He could have grown up to be whatever he wanted. He had a huge heart. He was a great hugger. He would have been a good dad, and he definitely had a lifetime of hope ahead of him. But one day, he decided that he couldn’t live anymore and he made a plan. His dad found him. His family was destroyed. A few years later, his younger brother who knew he was suffering from depression commuted suicide too. Their parents and siblings will never be the same.
Admittedly, we all suffer at times with some form of sadness that can be hard to overcome. Certainly, I have been depressed before. It’s not fun. It’s a place that you hide from the very people who love you. It starts out as an off feeling. You just don’t feel okay. You might take a sick day, trying to move forward from the thoughts in your own head. If you are lucky, you can push it aside for a bit until something triggers it again. Your trigger could be anything. It could be a rude customer at work, a fight with a friend or family member, your pet could die, a disconnect notice, a bad pay cheque. The sad thing about triggers for those struggling with depression is that the triggers are different for everyone. One size does not fit all.
But sadly, for those who are left with empty hearts, it is difficult to know when that trigger gets pulled. Unbeknownst to most around them, the trigger is just the start of a long dark and dreary road. It’s an off feeling, then it’s forcing a smile or laugh, then it’s not wanting to get out of bed, then it’s fighting to keep the fog away, then it’s fighting for a few rays of sunshine, then slowly it’s a blanket of darkness that you hide from everyone you know. This process can take months or years — again, no one size fits all. Sometimes you have no idea how you went from being happy to having zero hope. Depression is sneaky. And usually the process is so gradual, the change so imperceptible that no one recognizes it for what it is.
But the good news is we do have choices. For me, I am fortunate. My faith in Jesus has always helped me control the feelings that come from nowhere. I have also noticed that giving up sugar, grains and starches has cleared the fog that takes over when I’m not paying attention. I don’t openly talk about being depressed, because my journey with it has been mild compared to some. And, for hope, I know my go to guy is Jesus. He gets my tears, my frustrations, my anger…..and He takes it all away and leaves me with His love and hope and shining brightness instead.
He gives me the peace and joy that surpasses all human understanding. He gives me the confidence to know that I am His, and He paid the ultimate price for me when He shed His precious blood on the cross so that I could be redeemed and justified and sanctified forever in Him.
Still, I wish more teenagers knew Jesus, ate less sugar and knew that death is not the answer.
For my friends who lost a loved one this week, there will never be an answer. They will always question if there was something more they could have done to prevent the loss of their loved oone. They will always mourn their loss. They will be angry…..so angry because their lives have changed and they can’t ever fix it. They will be angry at the person who died…..and then instantly regret it. They will forever live knowing they need to blame someone but at the same time can’t because depression is a state of mind, something you feel in your soul, something some people will never experience … and something that is impossible to physically blame. It’s hard to be mad at someone you loved, who battled a demon you knew nothing about.
So do me a favour, pray for my friends. Pray for the family who lost their daughter. Pray for the friends you know suffer from depression. Depression is a silent killer, it leaves devastation in its wake. Most of all, pray that Jesus will shine His light in their lives, give them hope, something to hold onto, and cuddle them because right now they need Jesus more than anything.
– Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness.