Depression at Night

dark darkness loneliness mystery
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Depression always feels heavier at night. And I just wanna be alone.

I love my husband deeply, but right now, I want to crawl under the covers in a pitch-black bedroom by myself. I’m sorry, honey. No offense intended.

I don’t want to talk to anyone. I want to be alone with my thoughts and my mood. This is not a healthy choice, but it is an overwhelming desire.

Depression has a way of telling me that I’m all alone anyway, and pressuring me to feel it. This disease wants me to ruminate – to think dark thoughts over and over. Or to think no thoughts at all – to let my mind be blank. That’s not easy for me to do normally, but it’s pretty simple in my depressed state.

I would love to huddle in a space where no light gets in. To sit in silence and blackness. To be covered by a blanket of dark. To hear nothing but the echo of no sound. So that I can listen for my heartbeat – a reminder that I’m alive and fighting. Barely. But fighting nonetheless.

I’m drawn to the corner of a room, or the floor of a closet, or in the dark next to a large heavy piece of furniture, such as a dresser or bookshelf. I’d like to just sit there, with my knees pulled up to my chin and my arms wrapped around my legs. I’d be wearing my most comfortable clothes – soft sweats and fluffy socks. My eyes would slowly adjust to the small amount of light filtering in, but I’d be surrounded by the dark. It would be comforting.

Depression often brings its friend, anxiety. A hollowness behind my sternum, an emptiness in my stomach. My long-time therapist recently encouraged me to identify where in my body I’m feeling my emotions, as they are a whole-body experience. So anxiety is in the center of my body.

Depression is on my shoulders, pulling me down and forward. Like a thick pile of blankets would feel – heavy and warm.

Isolation is a very familiar feeling, comforting, enticing. I’ve felt it before, and I long for the peace it brings. But two things I know: it’s not a lasting peace. And I’m not truly alone – Jesus is with me.

The stillness that depression brings invariably turns to negative thinking, to self-accusation, to feelings of hopelessness. My mind goes from no thoughts to condemning thoughts to lonely thoughts.

And the presence of Jesus – the Light of the World – counters the darkness. He longs to comfort me in my isolation, to remind me that He will never leave me, and that nothing – not even the darkness – can separate me from His love.

I could ask the darkness to hide me, and the light around me to become night—but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you. Psalm 139:11-12, NLT

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I realize this is a “dark” entry. It’s how I feel as I go to bed at night when I’m in the midst of a depressive episode. I felt this way, too, every day of my worst depression back in 2009.  Fortunately, these feelings don’t last all day long anymore!

Things I’ve Learned from my Depression Journey

Can anything good come from depression? I think yes.
I’ve learned:

      1. Empathy for those who are suffering from mental illness. I have the ability to relate and offer comfort, because I myself battle against depression. And while each person’s mental illness is unique, there are some consistencies that generalize across diagnoses.
      2. The experience of the Behavioral Health Unit. From my short stay in 2009, I have a better understanding of the chaos and turmoil in a psych ward.
      3. That there is tremendous pain in the world – I’ve had the “blinders” or “rose-colored glasses” removed.
      4. That I have never been walking alone – Christ has been with me through it all. He has supported, encouraged and sometimes carried me, even when I couldn’t see it. “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ ” Hebrews 13:5b, NIV. And just because I couldn’t see His Presence doesn’t mean He wasn’t there. He does not depend on what I feel, or even think, to be true. He is God. He Is.
      5. Emotional intimacy with my husband – we’ve always been good communicators, but there is still room to improve.  Through depression, I was given chances to share my thoughts, feelings and fears with him. Previously, I would hold those things to myself because I didn’t want to “burden” him. But marriage requires sharing the tough stuff along with the good times. And he is a great husband, an amazing man, my best friend.
      6. How God loves me completely, even in my mess. I have a better understanding of His unconditional love, which the Bible tells us is beyond our understanding! “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:17b-19‬, NIV‬‬
      7. The importance of having a good Christian therapist – I’ve had two! They’ve each listened and understood, helped me think things through and make sense of my thoughts, and pointed me back to Christ and my husband for support.
      8. The value of a slower pace – no need to be over-the-top-involved in everything.
      9. An appreciation for naps! And gliders and rocking chairs and swings.
      10. A gratitude for the smaller and simpler things in life.
      11. The need for rest, space, quiet, even silence.
      12. The benefit of solitude and focus and breath.
      13. To not hide my emotions from my children, but to share/teach/show my kids that it’s normal to have troubles and it’s important to ask for help. I hope I’ve shown them God’s faithfulness to us through the hard times.
      14. To be more observant, to talk less and try to listen more.
      15. To pray about everything. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬
      16. The willingness to admit my weaknesses to my friends and family so they can pray for me. When I’m able to be honest and vulnerable, I allow others to help me.
      17. To serve from a place of brokenness. I had the opportunity to facilitate in a Depression Support Care Group for a year, after asking for 6+ years that God would use this depression in my life to help others. And now I blog, in the hopes that my story offers encouragement to other Christians with depression. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Cor 1:3-4, NIV
      18. Of my absolute need to rely on Christ for everything. I’m growing more dependent on Him. “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor 12:10, NIV